USPS OIG Blog: ‘Tis the Season for Political Mail

April 18, 2016
PoliticalMailGet ready for a political advertising avalanche. Politicians and the groups that support them are expected to spend a whopping $12.3 billion this year on campaign advertising in an array of media –television, radio, digital, print, and direct mail.

The U.S. Postal Service wants to snag $1 billion of that revenue, nearly double its $525 million piece of the ad spend during the 2012 presidential election cycle. To reach that aggressive goal, the Postal Service has a comprehensive strategy that includes reaching out to political mailers earlier in the election cycle, assigning specific goals to Sales staff, and coordinating internal activities between the Sales and Operations teams. But the plan’s success could hinge on improving mail service.

Our recent advisory, Political Mail Strategy, found the Postal Service’s overall strategy to be sound and well-implemented. We determined the Postal Service has learned lessons from the 2012 election cycle and instituted some best practices to process and deliver political mail faster. We also noted the Postal Service’s solid plans around a dedicated sales staff and earlier outreach to political groups. (It’s so-called political strike team.)

However, mail delays and service quality could derail things. Some political mailers and service providers raised concerns about service issues they’ve experienced, especially during past fall mailing seasons. The bulk of political mail is sent in October close to the general elections in November, when the postal system is already stressed at its busiest time.

We recommended the Sales staff work even more closely with Operations to identify processing issues, coordinate corrective actions, and inform customers when problems are resolved.

Is political mail an effective tool for educating and persuading? What type of political advertising resonates most strongly with you? What other approaches could the Postal Service use to boost its share of the political advertising spend?

Source: Office of Inspector General

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