- and an update on our USPS related efforts
OK – even just 6 months ago, I wouldn’t have thought it necessary, but as it turns out, there’s no question about it and no way around it… it just absolutely is. In fact, there have been undeniable indications over the last six weeks that absolutely nothing else will do!
Here’s why: in light of what we learned in 2006 and 2007 about the ways Flute Network moved across the country (thanks entirely to you all!), and especially the willingness of some at the USPS to hear it, we understand that the US Postal Service has actually put new rules in place about how all mail such as ours is to be handled. So far though, what we’ve seen from these (and a number of other new rules which are now also in place) has been … err, um… well, …let’s just say that what we’re seeing at this point is probably best put as “…confusing”.
As before, what we’re primarily interested in is helping folks know how to best plan the timing of their ads and notices so that they can reach people in time to be the most effective (both for the advertiser AND for those who might want to know about it!) - So IF these “new rules” are making a difference either-which way, it would be really good to know what that is – again, so that people can plan accordingly! And that’s why we’re asking your help again, this one last time.
As before - we can use any of these three email addresses again as a way to get your information to us (they’ve all proven to work well for most
folks during this past year):
As always too though – snail mail to the address given in the header of each issue (Flute Network, PO Box 9472, San Bernardino, CA 92427) – and/or phone messages – are always welcome too! And as always – we are zealous about protecting your privacy!… It’s only the relevant zip codes and dates these issues are received that we are collecting. Know too that there is no end date for this project – as long as you’ve accurately noted the date received, we’ll want to know about it even if weeks have gone by since then.
You – each, individually – will be receiving *even still more* of my undying gratitude, and can rest assured in the knowledge that by helping us with this undertaking, you really truly are doing something important -- and you’ll also be a part of something that has already proven to have weight and significance! Even if we hear from you about only one of those two issues you’re info will be part of something that is – at the very least - simply a really-really-good thing!
SO – can we count on you to help – this one last time?!
We’d sincerely appreciate it!
Many many thanks in advance – and all best wishes (‘cause yeah – we really are all in this together!) -- Jan and Jerry
Oct. 10, 2007 -- AN UPDATE: On Our USPS Related Efforts…
As mentioned in our Greetings Section of the September/October issue, it’s because so many of our subscribers have indicated they genuinely wish to continue receiving hard copy of this publication via “snail mail” that we’ve taken such an interest (over the past year and a half or so) in trying to understand just what’s been happening with the USPS in that regard… What we didn’t expect was that our experience and findings would turn out to be so useful to so many others! – As it turned out, not only were there many other small companies experiencing the same kinds of frustrations we were (and whose whole existence relies even more on the flow of US mails than ours does!), but the USPS itself claimed to not have data relevant to their delivery performance with this class of mail – so of course we were delighted to share ours, and we’ve been deeply honored to champion the cause of so many others such as the likes of us.
If you’d like to read the formal Testimony, Replies to Interrogatories (the formal name for questions about Testimony), our considered Opinion, and the other documents that The Flute Network has provided (all by invitation, I should add) for the Postal Regulatory Commission, the USPS, and the other members of the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee #114 during this past year, you are welcome to read them – you can find them all available here:a downloadable copy of Flute Network Comments, Docket PI2007-1 as a pdf and here: a web page with links to downloadable documents which Flute Network presented before the PRC (Be aware - they’re all downloadable pdf’s and you’ll need a pdf reader for that… and frankly, they’re big, long-winded documents, but everything in there is solid information!).
NOW - As of this press time – while I can’t yet cite specifics, there do appear to be some solid indications that our collective efforts may indeed be leading to good things for all of us...! And possibly better yet, we’ve been privileged to find ourselves in some VERY good company… and among them, found a number of genuinely wonderful new and supportive friends who’ve not only totally validated what we were finding with Flute Network mailings, they have actively joined us in important ways to help us (1) even better understand what’s been happening, and (2) to even more effectively, then, “present our case” as part of our common cause.
If there’s room in this issue to acknowledge only one of our new friends in this effort, it has to be Cameron Bellamy and his company GrayHair Software. Based in Mount Laurel, NJ., these folks are at the forefront of modern mailing technology and are the “go to” people for many of the toughest mailing questions today.
In short - several people worked near-miracles on our behalf and on extremely short notice (and they’ve done so twice now!) by generating and placing the specialized bar code used on the mailing of both our last issue (the one that went out in June) and now again with this one. (If you've got one of our Sept/Oct 07 print issues around, or even the July/August 2007 issue - do take a look! – this special bar code is just above your address… there are four lengths of lines in there instead of the two that we’re used to.) These things are the “next generation” – and called “Intelligent Mail” barcodes.
In many ways, these IM Bar codes act sort of like a license plate does on a car …your bar code is unique to you and contains a wealth of information that used to appear in other places on mail piece addressing (more on that later).
OK - these special bar codes are going to be required for our kind of mailings beginning in 2009, all as part of a whole new system of preparing and handling the mails that will be going into effect in January of that year – but currently only a handful of companies are working with them. Thanks to GrayHair Software, though, we’re getting to use them now to see what we can learn about the way these two particular issues of The Flute Network have been moving once they entered the USPS mail stream -- and that turns out that we’re learning QUITE a LOT! Not only are we learning a lot, the USPS officials are too… Still, whether anything material comes from it all may be one of those “only time will tell” things, I guess… for sure, this is something quite a few of us are watching for, together! In the meantime though, it’s a real honor to get to work with GrayHair Software and I am deeply and sincerely grateful for their interest, all the wonderful help and especially their generous support in absorbing and managing all the data that’s been coming in to them from these special codings!
(Briefly - the “IM Barcode” on *your* copy is totally unique to you, and is assigned by the USPS for the purposes of helping to streamline delivery processes for each mail piece as it moves along the way, and also allow for tracking the flow of mail as works its way through the system. See, there are special scanners embedded in the mail processing equipment which essentially “take notes” as these special bar codes go by… although the USPS has its own purposes for these scans, there’s also a special section of “our” barcodes which directs the machine to let GrayHair Software know too of where and when each scan takes place.
Here’s what’s really neat: The data we have for how the July/August 2007 issue moved through the USPS system has TOTALLY validated the experiences y’all shared with us regarding the “day and zip code” receipt of each of two issues in 2006 and again in 2007 (no surprise there, but how cool is that?!) – And NOW we plan now to also compare the July/August IM data with how this Sept/October issue is going (or went!?) as well since - at the suggestion of some in the US Postal Service - we’ve made a small change in the format of our little paper: we’ll see if moving the address panel (and thus the “lead fold”) makes a difference in how it flows on the USPS machines…or not!
Of course - we’ll share what we find out about all that with you too, as soon as we know – so for sure, stay tuned! … (…I did mention
that “the adventure continues”, right?! – well, this is just one part of it! NOW ON A RELATED MATTER -- if you've been accessing Flute Network issues exclusively online, well we're delighted to have you visit! BUT DID YOU KNOW you're missing out
on some special things that can ONLY be shared in our hard copies?! This April issue included another wonderful offering (a teaching duet) from Howard Vance, just by way of example...
and there's lots more planned to come, SO -- the following notice which was also on the front page of April's issue comes in here:
NOW ON A RELATED MATTER -- if you've been accessing Flute Network issues exclusively online, well we're delighted to have you visit! BUT DID YOU KNOW you're missing out on some special things that can ONLY be shared in our hard copies?! This April issue included another wonderful offering (a teaching duet) from Howard Vance, just by way of example... and there's lots more planned to come, SO -- the following notice which was also on the front page of April's issue comes in here:
Yes - FLUTE NETWORK is DESIGNED to be shared – posted - and passed around but…um… DID YOU KNOW…? … if you’re not currently getting your own copy of The Flute Network - and would like to – we’d be delighted to add you to our free bulk mailing list! ( … you DID know that subscriptions are free, right ?! ... ) Looking ahead - we are thrilled to get to share some pretty special offerings with you in the next several issues (for example, check out page 5 of this very issue, and that’s just for starters!) … For many reasons, though, these kinds of things can ONLY appear in our print editions. .. SO - if you’d like to be receiving your very own copy – or know someone who would - just let us know! Here’s how to do that: all we need is (1) to know that you’d like to be added, and (2) a name and address for which we can generate a bar code that the USPS recognizes as valid – that’s it! As always – snail mail and phone requests are welcome… and all of the following email addresses are still active as well: email@example.com -- firstname.lastname@example.org -- email@example.com
(You can rest assured – we are zealous about protecting your privacy – no part of our address list is ever sold or shared.)