Associations Act to Defend Direct Mail

Now that the Federal Trade Commission's national no-call registry has been implemented and a do-not-e-mail list is a possibility, mailing associations are moving to promote direct mail in hopes of forestalling passage of any do-not-mail legislation.

The Association for Postal Commerce, Arlington, VA, began Project Fairness last month to promote direct mail. In a letter to PostCom's 1,000 members, vice president Anthony Gallo said, “During the past year, PostCom has noticed an increasing number of news stories [that] equate the mail stream with cold calling and electronic spam. Given the establishment of the FTC's 'Do-Not-Call' list and growing efforts to limit electronic mail, we believe the paper-based mailing community cannot ignore the business development threats we face today.”

Meanwhile, the Envelope Manufacturers Association, Alexandria, VA, is developing “collateral materials and advertorials promoting the importance of mail and the economic value of mail for mailers and other interest groups to use,” president Maynard H. Benjamin said.

Also, the Mailing and Fulfillment Service Association, Alexandria, is alerting members about the threat of do-not-mail legislation in its “Postal Points” newsletter. No program is formalized yet, but “we are providing our members with information about what the issues are and some guidelines about how to take this information and turn it into action, whether it's visiting with representatives or writing to representatives,” said Leo Raymond, director of postal affairs at MFSA.

The Direct Marketing Association said it is following legislative action on the state and national levels and alerts members when it sees something. For instance, the DMA’s 3D e-mail newsletter on Friday urged members to contact legislators to protest U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer’s do-not-e-mail amendment.

State lawmakers in New York and Massachusetts introduced legislation this year to establish state do-not-mail registries. Also, the Center for a New American Dream gained support this year for its annual campaign to launch a national do-not-mail registry.

Several of the associations said they are reaching out to one another to create a unified voice.

“When everyone looks at do-not-call and do-not-spam, the next thing that comes to mind is do-not-mail,” PostCom president Gene Del Polito said. “We have to make sure to explain to [the community at large] the importance of business mail to universal service and the economy.”

Del Polito said “every single, solitary incident must be challenged.” He is asking his members to let PostCom know if they see something negative in the media about direct mail.

PostCom has started the letter-writing efforts. Last month, a letter was sent to USA Today regarding an article that repeatedly used the term “junk mail” and lumped advertising mail with spam, telemarketing and unwanted faxes.

This is not PostCom's first such effort. In the 1990s, it conducted an image and marketing campaign to fight the use of the term “junk mail” in newspapers and other media that led to changes in several newspapers' style manuals.

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