Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Postal Service Plans Unaddressed Saturation Program

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Postal Service Plans Unaddressed Saturation Program

Article excerpt

THE U.S. POSTAL Service (USPS) plans to offer small businesses the chance to saturate neighborhoods with advertising circulars for as little as 11[cts.]-12[cts.] piece.

The proposed "Neighborhood Mail" plan has drawn fire from a host of trade organizations, including the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) and the National Newspaper Association (NNA), which contend the plan could cost daily and weekly newspapers untold amounts of advertising revenue.

Last week, the Postal Service announced that a test of the program, originally scheduled to begin in September, will be delayed until after Christmas.

Under the Plan, the Postal Service would deliver advertising circulars -- bearing such addresses as "postal patron," "neighbor" or "occupant" -- to entire neighborhoods.

Under current policy, the Postal Service requires a name and address on all mass mailings.

Essentially, "Neighborhood Mail" would allow anyone with a copier to print a flyer and deliver it by USPS. Also, the plan largely does away with the need to purchase mailing lists with names and addresses.

The USPS says that's just the point. The plan was developed with small businesses in mind, officials said. In fact, the USPS already is putting together a brochure that offers mailing tips. Also, for a fee ranging from $30 to $50, businesses will be able to purchase census-type data from the Postal Service.

"We're going after pizza businesses, dry cleaners, florists, hardware stores -- the neighborhood businesses that are in every community," Postal Service marketing specialist Julie Rois told the Wall Street Journal.

The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) blasted the Plan, contending that it would put the USPS in the advertising business and into direct competition with the private sector.

"The Postal Service is supposed to be a service provided by the government to deliver the personal and business correspondence of America's citizens, not a delivery service that dumps unaddressed material into the mailboxes of American homes," Cathie Black, NAA president and CEO, said in a statement.

"The Postal Service's plan is a failed attempt to protect their monopoly standing and have open competition at the same time, while claiming to help small businesses," Black said.

Initially, USPS announced a one-year test of the plan beginning this fall in Sacramento, Calif.; Rochester, N.Y.; and New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La. …

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