Last year, we received a thank you note from a Filipino senior manning executive soon after our blog post about his views on the industry came out. The short missive was handwritten and with it came a small corporate giveaway, a gold-plated desktop clock with matching pen. It was a heart-warming gesture. How many bother to scribble a note to thank a blogger or journalist for being featured in an article? The gentleman we speak of is Miguel V Rocha of Manila-based CF Sharp, a manning agency that has always seemed to us different from the herd, a class on its own.

There are others, of course, like Mr Rocha. Not too long ago, we received a mobile phone call from Arlene Abuid Paderanga, president of the Asian Institute of Maritime Studies (AIMS). She apologised for calling late in the evening, then went on to thank us a couple of times for featuring her in our Portraits of Maritime Women series. Others about whom we’ve said a good word in the blog express their gratitude via email, which is just as satisfying to us. Small gestures like that make the world a little less cold and a little more human.

Alas, the old conventions on courtesy and etiquette tend to get waylaid in the frenetic, profit-driven world of maritime commerce. The practice of starting an email with the customary “Thank you for your email” or “Thanks for your reply” is in danger of vanishing. Many industry folks now use the salutation “Hi” instead of the more proper “Dear John” or “Dear Mr Smith”. Some even fail to reply to email letters. Ironically, maritime public relations agencies are often guilty of disregarding what we call the “human touch” in maritime business. They blast off with their press releases like a 12-gauge shotgun and smile when the story is picked up by every Tom, Dick and Harry in cyberpace. Do they bother to send the editors and writers an occasional thank you note or a Christmas or New Year e-card?

The great American writer Henry James wrote: “All life therefore comes back to the question of our speech, the medium through which we communicate with each other; for all life comes back to the question of our relations with each other.” It’s food for thought for PR agents and maritime executives. ~Barista Uno