Tag Archives: Business Extension Bureau

PRC Next Steps

As you have already heard, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has issued a proposed change to the rate setting process that would authorize a series of over -Consumer Price Index (CPI) increases that could sharply increase postal rates over the next five years.  (For details see our blog; The PRC is Threatening Your Livelihood)

March 1, 2018 marked the deadline to receive comments about the proposed changes, and the PRC got plenty.  The comments received had a consistent theme from industry associations, individual mailing companies and direct mail organizations.

The American Mail Alliance represents associations and individual signers that have come together for the sole and limited purpose of showing unanimity in asking the PRC to reconsider its proposed solution.  The AMA is by far, the largest ad hoc group submitting comments.  They criticized the prefunding burden and noted that the PRC was placing too much focus on the financial health of the USPS as impacted by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), stating that most stakeholders in the industry, predictability, rate stability, and transparency have been achieved.  In turn, the group argued that the commission over zealously sought ways to pay the accumulated debts caused by the unnecessary prefunding requirement.

Another rally against the proposed plan came from three groups commenting jointly; (the National Postal Policy Council, Major Mailers Association, and the National Association of Presort Mailers).  They not only argued against the higher prices but questioned whether the PRC has the authority to advance changes to the CPI-based rate setting system.

Other powerhouse organizations that “chimed in” questioning the PRC’s authority to move forward included the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, the American Catalog Mailers Association, the Association for Postal Commerce (PostComm), Idealliance, and the Association of Magazine Media.

So, what’s next?  March 1st marked the first phase of comments; reply comments in which commenters critique each other, are due by the end of the month.

After that, the PRC faces the task of digesting the input it has received and developing responses to comments.  They can produce a revised proposed rule (presumable acknowledging the industry’s concerns); or they can issue a final rule presenting the changes it plans to implement.

A second proposed rule would repeat the comment and, perhaps, reply comment periods, while a final rule would set a timeline on which it would be implemented.

The commission’s deliberations could reasonably take at least sixty days, meaning a revised proposal or a final rule shouldn’t be expected until late May or early June at the earliest, with implementation (under a final rule) sometime later this year. If a second proposed rule were issued, that would add another sixty to ninety days, at least.

Whether a presumed late-2018 rate filing by the USPS would be impacted is unknown at this time but, regardless, nothing will change about how USPS rates are set until the PRC’s rule making is concluded.

Of course, it’s widely anticipated that a law suit in federal court against the PRC’s final rule – no matter what it is – particularly given the opinion of some commenters that the commission lacks the legal authority to do what it’s proposing. If there is litigation, the final outcome is anybody’s guess!  We will keep you posted as this important issue unfolds.

PRC is Threatening Your Livelihood

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) dictated that the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) conduct a study of the past decade to determine if the current system for regulating rates and classes for Market Dominant Postal Products was achieving its objectives.

Those results were published on December 1, 2017 and the PRC concluded that the current system achieved some of its goals, but overall the system has failed.

The PRC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would give the USPS the authority to raise rates by at least 2% above the CPI for each market dominant rate class for five years.  It also allows for an additional 1% increase if they hit service and productivity standards, and will be required to raise prices for “underwater products” (Periodicals and Nonprofit mailings for example) by a minimum of an additional 2% above the price change authority to move prices toward full-cost coverage over time.  This could drive rate increases for standard letters (officially known as Marketing Mail Letters) up by 27% and flats by more than 40% over the next  five-years.

These proposed changes to the current postage rate ceilings are inflated and threaten the vitality and efficiencies of the postal service and our industry as a whole.

The PRC is an independent agency that has exercised regulatory oversight over the Postal Service since its creation by the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. It is composed of five Commissioners, each of whom is appointed by the President and subject to confirmation by the US Senate, for a term of six years. To ensure bipartisanship, not more than 3 of the Commissioners can belong to the same political party.

The PRC is tasked with ensuring transparency and accountability of the USPS and fostering a vital and efficient universal mail system.  They act as an independent regulator for engaging postal stakeholders to promote a robust mail system through objective regulatory analyses and decisions.  Normally, the PRC does not have the final say when it comes to postage rate increases.  That is for the USPS Board of Governors.  However, this is not a rate case.  This is a 10-year review of the system which the PRC reigns supreme.

The argument that the USPS has accumulated losses of $59.1 billion include the $54.8 billion needed to prefund their already financially healthy retiree health plan; even though no other entity is required to do the same.

The current regulations force the USPS to reduce costs and raise efficiencies which is needed now more than ever as many economists expect inflation to increase.

Thursday, March 1, 2018 marks the end of a 90-day comment period.  There is another 30-day (one month) period allowed for replies to comments before a ruling can be implemented.

We are very active with industry associations and sit on several industry boards.  Together we are  fighting to prevent this travesty from happening.  The industry will continue to stand united and push the USPS to focus on rate increases specifically tied to cost efficiencies only.  We will keep you abreast of the situation as it unfolds.





Content Myth No. 5

There is so much content available, you don’t have to always post original content.  Many bloggers will be happy to “guest blog” on your behalf.  Ask a colleague to pen a quick article on something happening in your industry.  Also, feel free to use another person’s blog or article, just be sure to recognize them and be extra courteous by adding a backlink to their article or site.  You will be (pleasantly) surprised at how many people will reciprocate.

Content Myth No. 4

Content marketing is a process that takes time. You can’t expect to see results overnight. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time, and it certainly doesn’t mean it can’t be measured. Use metrics that will help you measure activity. Pay attention to things like page views, downloads, time on site, subscriptions, paid versus organic search traffic, repeat versus new visitors, social likes and shares and cost per lead.

Content marketing is an extremely powerful tool and is an excellent resource for organic SEO. It allows you to develop long-lasting relationships with your clients and prospects and is critical at all stages of your customer journey.

Content Myth No.3

Content marketing should be woven into every touchpoint—online and offline—that you have with a customer. It can play an important role in more traditional direct marketing campaigns and even in-person sales meetings. Remember, content marketing is ultimately an experience that you’re creating for your target audience, built around a narrative that ties back to your business.

Inspired by http://www.chiefmarketer.com/5-content-marketing-myths-bust-2018/

Content Myth No. 2

Content marketing is a powerful tool for both acquisition and retention. It’s also a great way to explain a complex process, product or service. B2B’s longer sales cycle means prospects often spend more time at the top of the funnel, creating multiple opportunities for engagement and lead nurturing via content.

Use content to guide prospects along their decision journey and warm them up for a conversation with your sales team when they’re ready. Once converted, create content to welcome new clients or customers and reinforce that they made the right decision. Then strengthen the relationship and keep them engaged with ongoing content.  Exercise your expertise by sharing the latest information or trends.

Inspired by http://www.chiefmarketer.com/5-content-marketing-myths-bust-2018/