Take Our Industry Off of and Out of the Dumpster

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Something has been troubling me every day that I pick my 9-1/2-year-old son up at his aftercare program at his school.

When I pull into the parking lot, I see this huge dumpster right outside the school with "junk mail" printed on it in large white letters. I guess its purpose is to convey the message that this is where what I would call "mixed paper" goes in for recycling. I'm not a whiner or cry baby, but I can't help but think that after 21 years in our industry some things may never change.

I recently attended a List Leaders Forum in New York City, where the topic was privacy. We were given insight to the fact that certain political types in Washington don't like people in our business. It's no wonder that some politicians and much of the general public have this type of attitude toward us and feel we should be regulated by the government.

Unfortunately, the attitude toward our industry is shaped in subtle ways starting at a very young age, as witnessed by the two words on the dumpster. I find it ironic, however, that direct marketing is a legitimate degree that can be pursued at the college level and yet outside an elementary school the "junk mail" message is conveyed.

I don't recall ever seeing this message on the dumpster outside the then NYU midtown center 21 years ago, when I took Nat Ross' course on direct marketing.

Bob Portner is senior account executive at Kroll Direct Marketing, Plainsboro, NJ. His e-mail address is Bob@KrollDirect.com.

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