I recall watching a TV sketch more than 20 years ago in which Bette Midler depicted this mopey, depressed woman whose reaction to just about all situations in life was (in the character’s whiney, Noo Yawk accent), “Why bothuh?” Performed solo, the skit and her character were at the same time hilarious and chilling.
When I think of lobbying for key catalog legislative issues — namely, postal reform and privacy — that character often creeps into my mind.
Postal is perhaps the more pressing of the two concerns for catalogers. Since the first postal reform bill was introduced more than a decade ago, the Direct Marketing Association, the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) and other groups have spent thousands of dollars in member dues lobbying on the Hill. But each session of Congress becomes a postal “Groundhog Day,” as reform keeps petering out.
This has often struck me as a “Why bothuh?” situation. In fact, as PostCom president and Catalog Success columnist Gene Del Polito tells me, if the current companion postal reform bills — H.R. 22 and S. 662 — aren’t reconciled and signed into law by the president this year, new postal reform bills might not be introduced in the next Congress, as key reps on Capitol Hill are saying they’ll throw in the towel.
Warding Off Privacy Bills
As privacy relates to catalogers, it’s coming from the opposite direction. Whereas postal reform would theoretically make the U.S. Postal Service function more efficiently — thereby presumably keeping future postal rate increases in check — a number of privacy bills over the years have threatened to prevent catalogers from freely mailing to prospects without having to gain consumers’ permission first. Like postal reform, for the most part, those bills have gone nowhere.
Despite the dubious state of these key issues, others will come along. If you’re like many in the catalog business, you sit back and wait for your industry associations and suppliers to help your cause. But you can help your own cause, too; the question is which methods are effective and worth the bother, and which do you have the time for?