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Postal reform in bite-size pieces.

Postal regulations can be intimidating, especially now when reform is rampant. Here are some tips to make you the postal expert at your association.

Business reply cards. Contrary to the original reclassification ruling, business reply cards that are not bar coded will not ruin automation discounts for the publication. Here is the new U.S. Postal Service (USPS) wording: "At this time, the enforcement of the enclosed reply mail standard will be limited to bringing noncomplying reply pieces to the attention of the originator for corrective action. No mailing will be rejected, delayed, or assessed higher postage solely because it is found to contain a noncomplying reply piece; nor will mail be held solely to detect or examine enclosed reply pieces. However, if an enclosed reply piece is found during another verification process, it may be checked for compliance with the applicable preparation standards."

Inserts. Forget everything you thought you knew about inserts. As long as the insert does not break the following five rules, it may be mailed at periodical rates. It may not use

* a separate price or subscription instructions different from those of the host publication;

* the word catalog;

* a first-class or standard mail permit imprint;

* an International Standard Book Number; or

* an International Standard Serial Number or USPS number different from that of the host publication.

Label carriers. Printed information may only appear on the back of a carrier card. However, a single line of text may appear on the front to draw attention to the additional material, for example, "See reverse side for . . . ." If the information on the back of the card is advertising, the line will be treated as advertising also; if the back-of-the-card material is editorial, the front is treated as editorial, too.

Polybags. Most polybags cannot be bar coded for automation discounts. Only polybags made from USPS-approved film qualify for automation rates. Be sure to conduct a cost-benefit analysis, because what you save on postage may be spent on the polybag.

Products. According to the postal regulations, products may not be mailed at periodicals rates. Products are defined as items such as floppy disks, cassettes, and other merchandise. However, printed pages, including calendars and posters, are not considered products if they are not offered for sale. In addition, the page does not have to be paper; however, there must be printing on it and it must be an integral part of the publication - perhaps tipped in.

Public service advertising. Falling in the same category as subscription cards, public service ads do not count as editorial or advertising in your publications. As long as the ad does not mention any company name, it merely counts in the weight of the publication.

Other things to note. When tackling the new postal regulations, ask plenty of questions. Always run your publication ideas by your printer and postal representative. They can alert you to any potential problems or added costs.
Best Mailing Months

Category Top Months (1995-1996)

Fund-raises November, October, August
Business/finance December, June, September
Cultural reading December, May, June
General reading December, May, November
Self-improvement September, December, July
Health June, December, April
Home interest May, December, June
Parents and children August, April, October
Hobbies December, June, March
Entertainment December, June, May
Educational/technical/professional January, November, July

Source: The 1996 Kleid Seasonality Report, The Kleid Company,
New York City, reprinted with permission.

Remember that the printers and postal representatives are being reeducated also. For specific questions or concerns, start at the Postal Service's district level. However, if you are not satisfied with an answer, pursue the issue until you are comfortable.

Most importantly, take it upon yourself to know the postal regulations. Even if your questions are answered by the post office, the publisher can still be held accountable for errors.

Finally, remember there is no statue of limitations. Telling postal representatives, "I did this before and there was no problem" could land you in a heap of trouble.
COPYRIGHT 1997 American Society of Association Executives
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Association Management
Date:Feb 1, 1997
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