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One Moment Please... An unintended experiment

Mon, Jun 18th, 2012
Posted in All Commentary

In the May 21, 2012, issue of the Fillmore County Journal, I addressed the numerous inquiries about why the Journal was now being delivered on Saturdays instead of Mondays. As I said in that commentary, that was a decision by the Postmaster General handed down as a mandate to all local U.S.P.S. locations.

Well, as some of you may have seen in recent weeks, we are back to a Monday delivery date again.

Back when the USPS made this decision to put our newspapers out in the mailboxes as soon as they received them on Saturdays -- instead of holding them until Mondays -- I had no idea of the possible ramifications.

Within weeks of the new Saturday delivery, I started getting calls from advertisers asking how readers were getting their newspapers on Saturdays. These advertisers were having customers receive their Fillmore County Journal on Saturday and then immediately utilizing the newspaper that day. In every circumstance, the early delivery was creating confusion for readers. I know the JEM Theatre had numerous customers coming to the theatre expecting to see next week’s movie, and I know we had a couple of hardware stores that had people walking in with inserts showing in-store specials that didn’t start until Monday.

Wow! I didn’t realize our customers responded so quickly upon receiving the newspaper. For a short time, I pondered whether we should just change our publication date to Saturdays, but then I realized that many of our advertisers based their marketing plans and sales on a Monday delivery date.

At any rate, it was a real eye-opener for me. From this experience, I learned that we have a very proactive audience of readers who utilize this newspaper immediately. This is good news for our advertisers.

What I also learned was that Monday is clearly the best day for our newspaper to hit the streets.

As a publisher I once worked with many years ago once said, “Changing the newspaper is like rearranging someone’s furniture in their living room without their permission. You need to be careful and consider the impact.”

And, I believe this is so true.

Our readers and our advertisers help us define the content we publish every single week. Every week, I hear feedback about what we are doing well and where we can improve. And, frankly, we need that. The fact that our readers care enough to share their opinions about this newspaper gives all of our writers, graphic designers and salespeople the sense that we are the community newspaper for Fillmore County.

Thank you to our readers and our advertisers for being a part of something bigger than any one person. A newspaper is a living, breathing weekly record of what is happening in our lives.

And, a hearty thanks goes out to our local Postmasters in all of the communities in Fillmore County.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have met most of them while on the road delivering our newspapers to each USPS location.

From my travels, I quickly confirmed what I already suspected. We’ve all heard the phrase, “the [insert word of choice] flows down stream,” in reference to the hierarchy of management making decisions that impact frontline employees.

It happens all the time in corporate America, as we’ve seen amplified over and over again during the past five years.

The USPS is no exception. All of our local Postmasters are contending with a trickle-down effect of executive decisions.

In spite of the many top-heavy decisions being made by the USPS executives, our local Postmasters still make our local Post Office locations feel like a small town business with personality and compassion.

And, that, my friends, is what can keep the USPS alive and well.

Yeah, sure there are economics involved in the big picture of what needs to change with the USPS. I addressed a number of those issues in a March 14, 2012, commentary titled “One Moment, Please... If I owned the USPS,” which appeared in the Olmsted County Journal. You can view my thoughts at the following URL:

Beyond the economics, it’s all about the people and how they treat the customers; a very important ingredient in the formula of a successful business.

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