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.
blogEleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds share ideas …,” and Linn’s is fortunate to have thoughtful leaders of the stamp hobby on its Editorial Advisory Board. Board members participated in a lively discussion of “The State of the Stamp Hobby” Aug. 21 at the American Philatelic Society Stampshow in Grand Rapids, Mich. Read More ›
August 19, 2015 01:58 PMIn an unusual development for our hobby, the Office of Inspector General of the United States Postal Service is blogging about stamp collecting. Read More ›
August 17, 2015 12:19 AMFrom 1967 to 2006, Royal Mail (Great Britain’s post office) advertised all new issues with posters displayed in post offices. Most of these posters had pictures of the stamps along with basic information such as the date of issue, instructions for first-day covers, etc. Some were a little more elaborate. Read More ›
August 14, 2015 09:46 AMWill the United States Postal Service issue a Christmas stamp this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the classic television musical special A Charlie Brown Christmas? Read More ›
Watch as Linn’s associate editor Michael Baadke discusses happenings at the recent APS Stampshow from the show floor.
Watch as Linn's/Scott editorial director Donna Houseman discusses the early release of the new U.S. Elvis stamp, the possibility of a Peanuts stamp and Linn's at the upcoming APS Stampshow.
Watch as Linn’s Stamp News managing editor Chad Snee discusses highlights of Robert A. Siegel Auction Rarities Week sales in late June, and reports that the 49¢ price for a first-class United States stamp will remain in effect until April.
Watch as Linn’s senior editor Denise McCarty discusses the hiring of a new executive director of the American Philatelic Society, the new Linn’s Editorial Advisory Board and the upcoming APS Stampshow.
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.