INTERNATIONAL: USPS brings comms to the fore in multi-agency deal

WASHINGTON, DC: The US Postal Service has picked an integrated team of Interpublic Group agencies to handle its comms needs, with Golin/Harris International becoming the group's PR agency of record.

PR spending could range from £250,000 to over £1m in the next year, according to USPS vice president of public affairs and comms Azeezlay Jaffer, who added: 'PR has got to be at the forefront of every other communication initiative we use.'

The news coincides with the launch of a comms drive by US postmaster-general John Potter to reassure workers of the safety of the mail and the security of mail employees.

Potter used a broadcast on USPS-TV last week to show solidarity with trade unions and management groups over fears that USPS staff face greater risks than before.

The one-year IPG assignment may be renewed for three years, Jaffer said.

It is the first time the USPS has sought an integrated team to handle its overall marketing comms.

It is using DraftWorldwide and Campbell-Ewald for advertising. Total spending for the integrated programme could reach £65m.

The USPS wants to tell Americans it is transforming itself into a new entity, and that it does not plan to be made irrelevant by the internet and other hi-tech tools. 'Mail is here to stay,' Jaffer said.

PR will prepare the public for other comms efforts - such as advertising - that will follow.

Golin Harris staff across its network will work on the account, according to worldwide director of marketing and brand strategy Ellen Ryan Mardiks.

She will oversee the account alongside Lane Bailey, head of the Golin/Harris Washington, DC office, and director of its public affairs practice.

Golin Harris expects to handle PA, community relations, cause-related marketing, and employee communications counselling.

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