As the death toll, damage, and destruction mounts in the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina, list industry executives are calling for mailers and service bureaus to halt all mailings to the affected regions until conditions improve.
For its part, the U.S. Postal Service announced Aug. 31 that it is not accepting any Standard (nonletter) or Periodicals Mail addressed for delivery within these three-digit zip code ranges: 369, 393, 394, 395, 396, 700, and 701. Catalogers are urged to avoid mailing to addresses in these hardest hit areas of Louisiana and Mississippi.
“We are recommending to clients that they suppress that the USPS’ zip code areas,” says Steve Tamke, senior vice president of Hackensack, NJ-based list firm Mokrynskidirect. The company is working with the service bureaus to help its clients with zip suppressions, he says. “We’re also asking our list management clients to allow deductions [from other mailers] from these zip codes without penalty.”
Princeton, NJ-based list firm American List Counsel (ALC) announced on Aug. 31 that it would suppress addresses in the Hurricane Katrina emergency zones on all list orders placed at no charge. On list orders that were placed prior to Katrina with future mail dates, ALC will allow mailers to suppress records in affected areas and take those deductions at no charge.
They’re not alone. Schaumburg, IL-based list firm Rubin Response Management Services will waive the omit charge for the hurricane related areas as will Newtown, PA-based MKTG Services.
Indeed, several industry list firms have asked service bureaus to perform state suppression free of charge. “It’s the right thing to do,” says Geoff Batrouney, executive vice president of New Rochelle, NY-based list firm Estee Marketing Group. As an industry, he notes, “we need to lessen the burden on the postal system and allow the residents to cope with putting their lives back together.”
What’s more, Batrouney says, “it’s just bad business to mail pieces to people incapable of responding and who are not likely to look kindly upon you or your mailing if you can’t at least understand their dire circumstances.”
Considering that Katrina is shaping up to be one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, circumstances are indeed dire, and recovery is expected to take years. In the case of Florida hurricanes last October, says Mokrynskidirect’s Tamke, mailing suppression lasted at least three months. “Katrina will take at least that long,” he says, if not much longer.