November 13, 2013
It’s interesting for sure, and definitely somewhat ironic: Spikes in online transactions that have been a factor in declining revenues for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) might be part of the solution.
Recently the USPS announced that it will work with Amazon.com to deliver customer packages on Sundays. For now, they’ll start in coastal cities and expand next year to others if all goes well.
It’s also interesting to consider the PR angles of this arrangement. There’s no denying that consumers and businesses have lost some faith in good ol’ mail, and many are quick to say that after nearly 250 years, the postal service might be riding out into the sunset forever. Can the appearance of cheerful postal employees on their doorstep or mailbox on a Sunday afternoon renew their image of the USPS? Perhaps, and it will require some strategy.
One option: Deliberately sharing the story of the postal service’s history and horseback beginnings could make an impact from a PR perspective. Why? The time is right for a new campaign that uses what the postal service has in its power: great stories and a long history that still represents the American spirit, especially if you consider its beginnings as the famed Pony Express. (There’s an opportunity to move us, inspire us or even add some humor to catch our attention and change our thought patterns.) Placing these stories within social media like YouTube and blogs is definitely an option, as well as celebrating the long-term revenue and job impact of the postal service over time.
From a consumer standpoint, the USPS must share its message “Yes, we are open for business” in a more engaging and positive way, since many smaller post offices have been closed gradually over the years. The message has been “Closed, closed, closed” for too long, with plans circulating to cut out delivery days, routes and more mail centers (along with changes to employee benefits). Now smart, savvy PR tactics are needed to encourage audiences that the USPS is indeed open, open, open, even as it works to overcome major financial difficulties.
In comparison, other major corporations that go through financially tough years continue to successfully ride the tide with strong PR and attentively sharing targeted messages across news outlets and social media. They don’t over-emphasize the downturn; rather they continue to curate the conversation while they work to get back on their feet. This is a lesson the USPS could learn from.
It’s also important to share the competitive spirit of the USPS. The Sunday work wasn’t just handed over. The organization worked for the assignment and beat out the competition. Consumers may also respond to the fact that Sunday deliveries means more hours for postal employees whose schedules have lagged.
The coming months will likely bring more change to the USPS, but now’s the time for the organization’s leadership to guide this change in the most impactful way possible. It’s a piece of America’s story that doesn’t have to end here.
Is there a legendary story you need to share about your organization? Do you need to reach out to audiences with the message that you’re certainly open for business? Contact Axia Public Relations today. Your next chapter could be your best.
by Jason Mudd, APR
Jason Mudd, APR, is the CEO of Axia Public Relations and an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway Insurance, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles and Verizon.
Topics: public relations