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Dear Knower of Truths, Got a Minute?

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Dear Knower Of Truths, Got a Minute?

A debate has been raging in the FT, or whatever the FT version of raging is, for a few weeks on the strange death of the salutation.

It began with a column by Pilita Clark where she noted that she gets more and more emails that don’t begin with any form of greeting.

“This is perfectly acceptable for work colleagues in close contact. But when it comes from someone who has not been in touch for a while, or a stranger, it can feel jarring, confusing or sometimes plain rude,” she writes. (And is right).

This is a tricky one for the PR trade, which I think gets it wrong much of the time.

(We all do sometimes. Someone I email all the time and know very well told me the other day that he wouldn’t mind at least an occasional, how are you mate?, before I launched into whatever was on my mind. I felt genuinely embarrassed.)

For PRs sending out chunks of emails to journalists they probably don’t know the odds of falling foul of all this look high.

I get hundreds every day that begin “How are you?” or “I hope you are well.”

Just now: “I hope you’re having a lovely week!”

Why do you?

Perhaps these greetings are just politeness, but you don’t say that to strangers on the street which is effectively what we are. And it can grate.

Another from five minutes ago: “Dear Evening Standard, How are you?”

What, all of us? Well, I know Steve’s not been so well and Rachel is a bit worried about her daughter.

This stuff is harmless really, but it does put you a goal down before you’ve even begun. It gives the journalist little confidence that what follows is going to be of interest.

What works better? I think on phone and on email a quick, “Hi, it is Stuart from Brunsbury, have you got a minute?” is good.

Even the busiest/most self-regarding hack has got a minute; then at least you’ve established the terms. You have a minute, go.

Back at the FT, one letter writer recalled his time working for a peer of the realm, when all communications had to begin “My lord,” and end “We remain my lord, your obedient servants.”

It’s hard to imagine anyone now saying or penning those words without sarcasm.

Another letter writer says her pet hate is emails that begin “Hey guys”, partly since she is not a guy.

A study of Persian epistolography led her to the salutation “Knower of Truths.”

Bit poncy, but I like it. Give it a go.

Sky has landed a record 27 BAFTA nominations, says this from the broadcaster.

The drama Landscapers is up for a gong in seven different categories.

The days when Murdoch-owned Sky was deemed a threat to democracy, and much else besides, somehow, seem a long way away.

Certainly, since Sky arrived, TV is much, much better.

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