Have you heard of Areas Inspiring Mail (AIM)? It’s a Postal Service program that offers mailers and marketers the opportunity to meet with USPS Area and Headquarters leaders to learn about the latest postal news and initiatives and how to integrate mail into omnichannel marketing campaigns.
I have the privilege of serving as the industry co-chair for the Western Area, and we held our most recent Western Area AIM meeting in Portland, Oregon last week. It was a great opportunity to learn how marketers in the Pacific Northwest are leveraging tools like Informed Delivery to drive response and return on marketing investment for their direct mail campaigns. It also gave us “postal nerds” the chance to geek out over the brand-new, state-of-the-art Portland mail processing facility. The most fascinating part was getting to see the self-driving forklifts that navigate the production floor on their own, moving containers of mail to where they are needed next. Thanks again to the Portland District and the Greater Portland Postal Customer Council for being great hosts.
But AIM isn’t the only postal news you need to be aware of. There’s been a lot going on in the postal world since the first of the year, so let’s dig into the latest postal news and what it means for your marketing campaigns.
Inside the Beltway: The Latest Postal News from DC
Both House and Senate postal oversight committees have held hearings on the report of the Presidential Task Force on the Future of the Postal Service that was released last December. At this point, we haven’t seen signs of a comprehensive postal reform being introduced, although we remain hopeful that a few smaller bills can be passed as part of larger omnibus measures later this session.
With the release of the task force report, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has indicated it will be pushing ahead with its ten-year review of the rate-setting mechanisms established as a result of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, passed in 2006. After issuing a proposed rulemaking in December 2017 and gathering stakeholder comments in early 2018, the PRC put its process on hold pending the release of the task force report. It is now expected to issue a final rulemaking by this fall.
USPS Governance and Oversight
As I mentioned in my December 2018 post, the USPS Board of Governors is slowly being reconstituted. In addition to the two members confirmed by the Senate in 2018, the President has nominated Roman Martinez IV, Ron A. Bloom, and John McLeod Barger to join the board. The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee announced that hearings to consider Bloom and Martinez’s nominations will be held on Tuesday, April 2.
The Senate has confirmed Michael Kubayanda to fill the previously open seat on the PRC. In addition, the President has nominated Ann Fisher (who previously worked for the PRC and the Senate postal oversight committee) as a Commissioner, replacing Tony Hammond, who will leave the PRC later this year.
Postal Management Leadership Changes
Postmaster General Megan Brennan recently announced several changes to the USPS senior management team. (All are currently in acting status until approved by the Board of Governors.) Isaac Cronkhite has accepted the position as EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer. This resulted in changes in the VP roles on the USPS CIO team. Jeff Johnson is now VP Enterprise Analytics, Pritha Mehra has become the VP Information Technology, and Marc McCrery has moved into the VP Mail Entry and Payment Technology role. In addition, Sharon Owens has been named VP Sales on the Chief Customer and Marketing Officer (CCMO) team, and Steve Phelps has assumed Owens’ former role as VP Pricing and Costing in the CFO organization.
Quick Reminder: Get Ready to Take Advantage of Mailing Promotions
Mailing promotions are back in 2019! The Tactile, Sensory, Interactive (TSI) Promotion and the Emerging and Advanced Technology Promotions are currently open, with more, including an Informed Delivery Promotion, coming later in the year. TSI runs through July 31 and Tech runs through August 31, so there’s still plenty of time to earn postage discounts. Reach out to your IWCO Direct account team for more details on how to take advantage of these offers in your direct mail campaigns.
With so much going on that could impact the businesses of those who value direct mail as a marketing tool, now is the time to get involved to help move things in the right direction. Join an industry association like EMA, PostCom, or Idealliance to stay on top of the latest postal news and amplify your voice, and be sure to engage with the Postal Service through venues like the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC), AIM meetings, local Postal Customer Councils, or the National Postal Forum (NPF).
I hope I’ve convinced you that engagement matters—that the future of mail affects everyone who sends or receives it—and that we should all be tuned into the latest postal news. One great first step toward getting involved would be to attend the 2019 NPF May 5–8 in Indianapolis. While you’re there, be sure to check out the IWCO Direct presentations during the event. We’ll provide more information about this event in an NPF Preview post in April. In the meantime, be on the look-out for an AIM meeting in your area.
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