This weekend the Protocol School of Washington will celebrate turning 25 years old with a Global Summit. Attendees will participate in workshops such as “The Protocol of Titles and Forms of Address” and “Keep Calm and Protocol On: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at a Royal Visit.” The PSOW also has served as a consultant for several editions of our Blue Book of Stationery, which has been the go-to guide for proper correspondence since the late 1800’s. So, we thought it both timely and appropriate to speak with PSOW President Pamela Eyring, who shares with us thoughts such as the pen pal worthy of a letter closing with “Fondly” and why she just might have been the next Florence Nightengale.
How long have you been at the PSOW and how did you end up there?
I graduated from PSOW almost 15 years ago and have proudly owned the school for the past nine years.
Describe your first memory of writing a letter as well as receiving one.
My mother always wrote beautiful letters! She has beautiful cursive handwriting and I would enjoy reading her words in Christmas and birthday cards (and still do). My first letter was from my military father who was stationed overseas. He, too, has nice handwriting and was always so thrilled to receive a letter from him.
The first letter I wrote was in second grade to my Aunt Lena. She was ill and I told her I was going to grow up and be a nurse so I could take care of her. Although I didn’t become a nurse, I do care about people, enjoy helping find solutions for professional growth and motivate women to believe in themselves.
Why do you enjoy writing correspondence?
Like our founder, Dorothea Johnson, I’m a correspondence snob! I cherish receiving a handwritten note or letter on beautiful stationery. Of course, I can tell when it is written on Crane paper—the best!
What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
The actual writing with a bold, black ink pen. To see my thoughts come to fruition on paper makes me feel I have achieved a goal and know the receiver will appreciate my card.
If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
Maya Angelou. I have enjoyed her quotes and writings for most of my life. I would write to her and tell her how she motivated me personally and professionally and thank her for helping remind me to be a better, kind person to others. I would close each letter or card with “Fondly” due to my admiration of her.
To whom do you most often write?
I enjoy writing welcome notes to our students attending our five-day certificate programs. Over the past nine years I have written more than 2,000 welcome notes.
Even if I am not attending one of our courses due to business travel, I still write each student attending a welcome note. I enjoy letting them know I am delighted they are attending our school and that they are special. I believe this good “habit” comes from working in Protocol for the US Air Force. I always wrote a welcome note to each general officer who would stay on-base at our lodging facilities. It was great practice!
Describe the most memorable letter or postcard you have ever received.
There is not just one. I receive hundreds of thank you notes from our graduates thanking me and my team for a their superb training.
Their words make me smile and tear at the same time. When you help someone positively change or reach a goal you can feel it in your heart. Those notes are so special to me I keep each and every one of them.
What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
First of all, it has to be hand-written. That stands out immediately since we are visual in nature. Then it’s the quality of the letter—the paper. Is it thin or thick? Does the paper feel good on my fingertips? Is there a watermark? Plus, a letter is larger in size where you might have to use two hands to hold it.
Do you have a favorite stamp or stamp series?
Of course, I enjoy holiday stamps when sending my Christmas cards. Since most of my cards are hand-delivered, I don’t seek a variety of stamps, but it is important when sending a personal letter or thank you card that it is a stamp and not a meter mark. I also think it’s important the stamp is placed evenly on the upper right corner of the card and is not crooked.
What makes your correspondence distinct?
The variety I keep of Crane stationery. When I’m sending a thank you note or appreciation card, I can select a style of card (and print) based on my mood. I love my stationery with palm trees since I live in South Carolina. I also have the more classic style with the blue edging—always appropriate if not as social but rather more professional.
What do you think classic correspondence will look like in a decade or two?
Our nation is becoming very casual. I believe we will see more vibrant colors that are not as traditional and different use of fonts to show one’s personality. But the need will remain. Having personal and professional correspondence will separate us from the digital masses of emails we receive giving a person a clear differentiator!
Have a question for Pamela? Email the Crane Concierge at firstname.lastname@example.org.