NEW YORK: The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is looking beyond
its own medium and implementing a PR campaign to direct marketers and
the general public to assure them of the safety of opening direct-mail
Preferring to keep the effort in-house rather than tap project agency
The MWW Group, Louis Mastria, the DMA's director of public and
international affairs, said he has spoken to media outlets including The
New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and others
with his message that it's OK for people to handle their mail. Direct
mail, he said, is a $528-billion-a-year sector.
In addition to making the public and its members aware of the DMA's
guidelines (see sidebar), the DMA is communicating with the US Postal
Service's postal inspection service, consumer groups, bioterrorist
experts, and law enforcement officials so it can alter its response or
issue additional guidelines if needed.
"We're getting near the holiday shopping season, and that's a big deal,"
said Mastria. "We've been lucky; we've gotten a good deal of press
coverage, and our members have responded pretty rapidly."
Mastria said the point he most wants the media to understand is the
substantial difference between the appearance of mail that may contain a
threat and professionally packaged direct mail.
"We're trying to say there is some perspective here," said Mastria. "We
should be vigilant, but I don't think it's appropriate to assume the
mail represents an ongoing threat."
THE DMA'S ADVICE
1. Avoid using plain elements. Instead use envelopes with more
sophisticated printing techniques, like four-color
2. Use a clear, recognizable logo with a corporate address so people
know they are getting something from a reputable marketer
3. Put toll-free numbers and a URL on the front of the envelope so
people can learn more about a company without opening it
4. Consider creating an e-mail or telephone campaign in advance of
direct mail so consumers will anticipate a mailing.