By Max Heath
Getting and keeping requests, Q & A
Last month, I covered the basics of Requester qualification. This month, I want to share ways to get and keep requests, and answer some questions posed by others on the recent National Newspaper Association webinar.
There are a lot of methods for getting valid requests, good up to three years. Here are some widely-used:
1. Mail-back card inserts into the paid Periodical or free Standard Mail newspaper explaining the shift to Requester status. Explain that the paper will no longer be free, if it is now, or will be going to more people who request it. Be sure to include a statement that the request to receive (title name) will be good for up to three years. Their complete name and mailing address should be provided with signature—and date signed. Faxed requests can be accepted if showing the above information. These techniques are good for requalification efforts, as well. If someone signs a request before the three-year expiration, so much the better, because it pushes the expire date farther out.
2. Set up tables at major shopping areas in high-traffic locations, such as grocery stores, big-box stores, and events such as county fairs or local festivals. Using the same cards as above are fine. But Requester rules do not allow any incentive, such as a premium, gift, or drawing for prizes.
3. Electronic requests may be counted if the request includes: A. the title of the publication, B. the requester’s name, C. terms – length of the subscription, D. the requester’s physical address, E. the requester’s e-mail address, F. the date of the request, and G. a copy of the offer. When audits are performed, publishers must print out all documents associated with a request for the names selected. If multiple titles are offered, they must be produced by a single publisher. If the title is printed in full on the subscription offer, abbreviations in requester records are acceptable. (Per postal Customer Support Ruling PS-054.)
The easiest way to achieve this is to set up a matrix on the website of the publication that includes all the fields above that can be clicked to from prominent locations on the website inviting readers to “Request (title name) NOW!
4. Signed and dated requests for a quantity of copies (bulk requests) from employers that specify the employees, by name or position in the organization, who are to receive copies of the publication are considered valid requests. Other bulk requests for copies of a publication—for example, when membership organizations request distribution of the publication to all of their members—generally do not count as valid requests.
5. Telephone requests can be acceptable, although state and federal do-not-call lists make phoning people less effective. Call-ins may qualify, as well as outcalls. At a minimum, records for telephone requests should include: A. the name, address, and telephone number of the requester; B. a copy of the text used by the interviewer that solicited the request; C. the interviewer’s signature; and D. the date of the interview when the request was obtained. This will provide the U.S. Postal Service with the minimum information necessary to contact the requester to confirm the request, if necessary.
6. Sell subscriptions to readers outside your target market where you plan to saturate your paper. Remember, paid counts toward Requester, just not the reverse. So any paid copies to say, readers elsewhere in the state and out of state, all boost the Requester percentage.
POINTS FROM WEBINAR Q & A
You cannot use an opt-out program to establish a Requester. Signed individual requests are necessary, although e-mail requests are allowed as above.
You can sell a Requester publication via single-copy sales. All paid sales count toward the 50 percent plus 1 rule, though such sales are not highly productive when all residents are mailed the paper, free and requester. The 50 percent is calculated as a percentage of total distributed copies, so leaving copies for free pickup is not a suggested procedure, because pickup drives up nonrequested/nonpaid copies.
If you have paid subscribers in a larger city that is within your county, but outside your Requester Saturation zone, they would, of course, count as in-county. However, recipients within the in-county zone do not qualify for the lower price unless they have valid requests on file. The in-county rate is not available for your nonrequesters. You can also count 10 percent nonsubscribers at in-county prices under the “sampling” allowance each issue.
Requester Periodicals are due the same level of delivery service as Paid Periodicals. But the best practice for price and delivery in your target zone of Saturation coverage is to deliver to all offices using Exceptional Dispatch.
If starting from scratch, you would send copies Standard Mail while establishing the valid number of Requests to qualify for Periodicals. If converting from paid status, that is not advised. You cannot mail a complete copy of a Periodical at Standard Mail prices.
Requester publications mailed solely to Requesters, such as a business journal, would pay whatever postage they qualify for, most likely the Basic carrier-route price rather than Saturation.
Requester copies must include a name and standardized address to qualify. Best practice is to purchase Computerized Delivery Sequence files via your software vendor or other source, with regular updates. CDS gives you every resident in ZIP codes purchased. Nonrequesters can have “Resident” as the standardized address. Use the “exceptional address format” of “Or Current Resident” on subscriber copies.
© Max Heath 2016 MAX HEATH, NNA postal chair, is a postal consultant for Athlon Media Group, publisher of Parade, American Profile, Athlon Sports, Relish and Spry newspaper supplements, and also for Landmark Community Newspapers LLC. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.