The woman who supervises the stamp program at the United States Postal Service is once again raising eyebrows.
This time the cause is a speech that Nagisa Manabe gave April 10 at a Washington Conference called PostalVision 2020.
There the chief marketing officer of the USPS announced that the federal agency is “actively looking for ways to build new business lines around what not long ago might have been considered science fiction,” according to several news accounts.
Manabe went on to describe some marketing ideas that have been widely discussed, such as delivering groceries and other goods on a same-day basis.
She then suggested that some other new marketing ideas would be too good for the USPS to pass up.
One example involved a woman trying to decide which of two cars to purchase.
“We’re at the point where, all too soon … We’re going to know exactly that she was shopping at two different car dealers looking at cars and both of those car dealers should be mailing her communications about that vehicle, right?
“And we’re there now, folks,” she continued. “I mean you know all this.
“There are dozens of folks out there who are supplying that kind of information. If we’re not testing and exploring some of that together, we should.
“ … As we know more and more about how consumers are traveling around and making their decisions, it behooves us to get involved and actually send them information to actually close the deal.
“For me it’s all about speed and accuracy of the mail.”
“We do not sell or rent your personal information to outside parties.”
“We do not market other products or services to you without your consent.”
To some mailers, however, it’s one thing for Google and Facebook to actively market to their customers’ apparent needs and desires, but quite another for the USPS to be assuming such a marketing role.
The head of one major bulk mail association told Linn’s it raises questions about the USPS’s often-cited assurance of privacy of the mail.
“Particularly since the Postal Service (to the best of my knowledge) is still prohibited by law from creating, maintaining, using, and marketing mailing lists,” the official said.
When asked about such issues, Darlene Reid-deMeo, a spokeswoman for Manabe, said the questioners were wrong.
“There seems to be some confusion; her presentation was merely a discussion of what is available to mailers via the industry. Not the USPS,” Reid-deMeo said.
“The Postal Service respects the right to privacy of its customers,” she said.
“Consistent with the mandates of the Privacy Act of 1974, we only collect and use such data as is required to operate the nation’s postal system. In doing so, we fully comply with all aspects of the Privacy Act and other federal laws.”
It’s not the first time Manabe has stepped into controversy. Some members of Congress have questioned the wisdom of a contract she approved for a study of stamp usage.
The reality is that being the chief marketing officer for the U.S. Postal Service has never been an easy job, especially for an outsider like Manabe.
Suddenly obstacles appear for projects that most corporations would easily undertake. Those obstacles are often federal laws and regulations that are designed to keep the USPS from competing with private industry.
blogIn this column in the Aug. 24 issue of Linn’s, I referred to the American Philatelic Research Library in Bellefonte, Pa., as a “gift to stamp collectors.” The BNAPS library and the APRL are two of many libraries available to stamp collectors, and some philatelic libraries are available online. Read More ›
blogIt’s often been said that one of the salutary benefits of collecting stamps is the friendships made along one’s philatelic journey. If I were asked to place a value on the bonds thus forged with collectors in locales near and far, I would be rich beyond measure. A few of these hobby friends I have never met in person. Read More ›
blogToday, Nov. 11, 2015, is Veterans Day. Over the years, a number of United States stamps honoring those who have served in our nation’s armed forces have been issued. Read More ›
blogMy previous blog post focused on a mystery: the apparent indentations of paper clips on United States Purple Heart forever stamps that were used to mail payments to the circulation department of my employer, Amos Media in Sidney, Ohio. Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Denise McCarty discusses Great Britain’s final stamp issue for 2015, a Star Wars prestige booklet, and reveals what is included in its stamp program for 2016.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses a registered 1967 cover from Qatar that recently sold for almost $1,200 and the latest discovery of an Upright Jenny Invert pane.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News editorial director Donna Houseman announces that Linn’s has been named official daily publisher of World Stamp Show-NY 2016 and provides an update on the reorganization of the Scott catalogs.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News senior editor Marty Frankevicz reports on the suspension of Canada Post’s cluster box conversion plan after the election of a new prime minister.
It is always a treat to get to see stamp dealers’ own collections.
In the recently concluded Linn’s United States Stamp Popularity Poll, the Circus Posters set of eight stamps was chosen as the overall favorite issue of 2014.
Dispersal of the splendid Daniel B. Curtis collection continued March 25, with Robert A. Siegel Auction Galleries gaveling items from United States back-of-the-book and possessions.
The 175th anniversary of the first postage stamp, Great Britain's Penny Black, is May 6, but the stamp was placed on sale May 1, 1840, for mailers to use beginning on May 6, the designated issue date.