• on Jul 20th, 2015 in Products & Services | 2 comments

    Elvis is back in the building! Earlier this month, the U.S. Postal Service previewed the new Elvis Presley stamp that will be released in August as part of the popular music icons series of commemorative stamps that include the likes of Ray Charles, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix. 

    As the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis is regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century. And his enormous star power certainly carried over to his stamp. Elvis mania helped make the original Elvis stamp, issued in 1993, the most popular commemorative stamp of all time, according to the National Postal Museum. 

    Given that history, will the new stamp featuring a 1955 photograph of the King be another top seller?

    Elvis isn’t the only celestial body making postage stamp news this month. Also getting attention is the 1991 Pluto stamp, which scientists affixed to NASA’s New Horizons probe that just made contact with the dwarf planet. According to a recent Washington Post blog, when the stamp was designed as part of a planetary set, Pluto was the only planet that lacked a robotic companion – no spacecraft had ever been sent to explore it. So there was no American robot to show off in the stamp illustration like for the other planets. Instead, the words “Pluto, not yet explored” were put on the stamp. Some scientists said they saw this as a sort of “call to arms” to explore Pluto. 

    Now that Pluto is getting its day in the sun, so to speak, the Pluto stamp is too – even if its words are no longer true. A few years ago, the New Horizons team petitioned the Postal Service for a new stamp but there’s no word on whether that will happen.

    Stamps hold a unique place in American culture, which may be why so many people feel strongly about what should or shouldn’t be on them. Our previous blog on the Harry Potter stamp drew a record number of comments. The stamp was controversial because, for one reason, the subject matter – a British wizard created by a British novelist – wasn’t strictly American.

    Well, Elvis and the U.S. space program are as American as apple pie. So their stamps are not likely to be nearly as controversial. Still, here’s your chance to weigh in with your favorite stamp and what others you might like to see.   

  • on Nov 24th, 2014 in Products & Services | 19 comments

    It’s been more than 3 years since the U.S. Postal Service changed its rules on postage stamps, ending its long-standing tradition that people on stamps had to be deceased. At the time of the announcement, the Postal Service said it would consider stamps for acclaimed American musicians, sports stars, writers, artists, and other nationally known figures.

    The policy change led some people to worry that stamps were becoming advertisements, not carefully considered subjects of cultural relevance. Others worried that honoring a living legend could backfire. What if that person went on to do something embarrassing or, worse, illegal later in life? That’s no small concern as recent headlines from the sports pages suggest.

    Yet, 3 years on, none of the major stamp releases have featured any living “celebrities,” unless you consider the fictional character of Harry Potter to be a celebrity. (While the stamps featured the actors from the movie, the stamp honored the films, not the actors.) That release stirred up a good deal of controversy – and publicity – primarily because many philatelists felt it commercialized the stamp program. And, they noted, Harry Potter isn’t even American. Others, however, applauded the move as an attempt to make stamps relevant to a younger generation.

    The large response to our blog on the topic got us wondering: Who would you like to see on a stamp? Would you send more mail if you could buy stamps honoring Bruce Springsteen, Justin Bieber, Michael Jordan, or Julia Roberts? Do you think living celebrities should be allowed? Yes, but with certain criteria? Is it important to you that the featured individual be American?

    You can find out more about the Postal Service’s stamp program by visiting http://uspsstamps.com/ 

  • on Oct 20th, 2014 in OIG | 15 comments

    As we celebrate our sixth year of blogging, you might think we’ve covered it all. Surely we’ve hit on every postal topic and angle there is, right? Well apparently not. We have a backlog of issues we want to share and people keep giving us excellent insights and feedback.

    Over the years we’ve noticed that, every once in a while, one of our blogs really strikes a chord with our stakeholders. This past year, we had a few of those moments. The first was our blog on the Harry Potter stamp (Will Harry Potter Cast a Spell on Young Stamp Collectors?). We knew the stamp’s release was controversial. But 226 comments? And more than 57,000 views? Stakeholders care a lot about postage stamps, and social media let them express their sentiments. Other blogs that generated heavy commentary were Network Consolidation Reboot (with a record-setting poll response of over 3,700) and The Road to a New Delivery Fleet, with many of the comments coming from current or retired postal workers. This reinforced one of our earliest blogging insights: Postal workers are passionate about the Postal Service, and they have a lot of good ideas to share.

    However, comments alone don’t measure a blog’s impact. Readership is another good indicator of whether a blog topic resonates with stakeholders. We were surprised to discover that sometimes the blogs with the fewest comments actually got the most views. Our blog asking about the role of a chief innovation officer (The Innovation Unit Dilemma) topped more than 23,000 reads, as did our blogs on the Postal Service’s deal with Amazon to deliver on Sundays (No More Day of Rest for Postal Package Delivery) and on same-day delivery (If You Build It, They Will Come. Maybe)

    Finally, we are finding that the blog isn’t the only place where the action is. Facebook and Twitter continue to see a lot of activity. For example, our blog on the Social Security Administration’s return to paper statements lit up on Facebook even though it generated only a handful of blog comments.

    We mention all of this not to toot our own horn, but to remind stakeholders that this blog serves as an important tool to engage with you on issues that affect the Postal Service. Your input matters to us and informs our work. As we toast our 6-year anniversary, we hope you will continue to share your insights, ideas, issues, and concerns.

    What topics would you like to see covered in a blog? 

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