Modes of communication

I had the good fortune yesterday of being upgraded on my transatlantic flight to Virgin’s Upper Class (and very comfortable it is too). I was struck however that each person is given a letter from Richard Branson, commending them for their impeccable taste in having selected his premium service.

The letter of course was not personally signed (and there are machines to do that for us these days), but nor was it personally addressed. I was impressed at having received a letter, but with little effort it could have had much more impact. I’ve booked a seat, so it’s easy to address it personally to me.

Then it struck me how few good, personal, business-oriented letters are sent now. In an age of email, where communication must provide immediate gratification, the letter seems rather pedestrian. Most of my ‘snail mail’ is misdirected, ill-conceived junk. But an individually-addressed and signed letter is one which I will undoubtedly open and read. The days of printing and stapling press releases to send to the media are behind us, but perhaps we overlook postal mail in our desire for glycemic communication.

I then wondered about the humble fax. A personal fax is a rarity indeed. Legislation has done much to prevent mass fax-outs of direct mail, so many of the faxes I now get are either legal documents which need signing or resumes. The arrival of a fax, though is a momentous thing. Most of us don’t have fax machines in our offices. The main fax line is normally at reception, meaning the fax’s arrival is trumpeted in with a personal call. Then often some kind soul, will hand deliver the fax reverently to your desk. The arrival of a fax is an event which punctuates one’s day, and it gets read. Which is what communication is all about. Again, I think we may overlook what was once the work-horse of PR technology.

Richard asked for my feedback saying he’d read and respond himself. I think I’ll send him a fax, it’s more likely to get through.