Updated postal regulations benefit community papers

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By Tonda Rush

National Newspaper Association

Newspapers can now use simplified addressing on city routes, a change that allows papers to mail copies on a saturation basis without specific addresses.

Sampling to build circulation can easily be done with this tool.

A Feb. 24 postal bulletin clarified that the Dec. 16 rule change allowing the simplified address format also will apply to periodicals.

The change, effective immediately, alters Domestic Mail Manual Rule 602.3.2, which had for many years limited simplified addressing to rural routes and post office boxes associated with rural routes, except for government agencies.

For community newspapers the changes mean:

• Newspapers that lack specific address lists for city routes can now expand their sample copies using the nonsubscriber rules in the Domestic Mail Manual.

Ten percent of in-county subscriber copies in a 12-month period may be sent to nonsubscribers. Sampling over the 10 percent in-county limit pays regular saturation prices (outside county) but can still be done profitably.

• Newspapers with shoppers (or free newspapers) serving the entire market but that skip the few city routes in small towns due to lack of a list or software to integrate the list can now prepare simplified address copies for city routes.

This can mean additional revenue as advertiser preprint counts are increased to match the higher numbers and ROP rates are increased to match the additional coverage.

How does the change work?

• Periodical newspapers can now choose to saturate city routes by bundling copies for each active residential customer using the words “Residential Customer” printed directly on the piece where a label might normally go.

The Postal Service is providing delivery statistics for simplified address mail at https://smp.usps.gov.

• Likewise, shoppers or free newspapers may add city routes to their mailing if needed or end the use of specific address labels, saving the costs of label printing and mail preparation.

While this rule was not class-specific, the Postal Service’s marketing department that ordered the change asked for it to apply only to standard mail, according to Max Heath, the National Newspaper Association’s Postal Committee chairman.

The Postal Service needed the change as a precursor to an experimental market test filed in January for a program called Marketing Mail Made Easy, which would allow local businesses to send up to 5,000 copies per day of standard mail flats weighing 3.3 ounces or less via saturation carrier route price using simplified addressing.

The goal of the market test is to gain new business by allowing small businesses that don’t advertise to promote their services to a few postal routes around their businesses.

The National Newspaper Association, while supporting the rule change for city routes because of member requests, has opposed the market test, saying that private industry can grow business for the Postal Service simply by allowing newspapers and others to use the mail without having to purchase costly mailing lists.

The extension of simplified addressing to periodicals now means newspapers can use simplified addressing to sample copy city routes within the allowances permitted under the rules. The new option gives newspapers a new tool to use in growing circulations.