Johnson: Investment in quality software pays off for small newspapers

Johnson: Investment in quality software pays off for small newspapers

Good news for publishers yet to find a way to meet the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) mandate for intelligent barcodes: You’ve got more time.

Andrew Johnson, NNA Region 6 Representative

Andrew Johnson, NNA Region 6 Representative

The USPS has delayed the Jan. 26, 2014, deadline it had set for newspapers to implement Full-Service Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMb) in order to be eligible for USPS automation rates. It is unclear at this point how long the requirement will be delayed.

Like many community newspaper owners, Andrew Johnson, publisher of two Wisconsin weeklies, sought out a simple solution to meet the requirement.

Johnson, a past WNA president and current WNA Foundation director, publishes the Dodge County Pionier (Mayville, 4,258 circulation) and the Campbellsport News (1,664). He is also Region Six (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin) Director of the National Newspaper Association (NNA).

Through his role with NNA, Johnson says he has been fortunate to “ … be around a lot of very smart people and I’ve learned first-hand that good circulation software makes a difference. You get what you pay for.”

This is especially true for a smaller weekly newspapers that are heavily dependent on the mail but don’t have anyone with postal expertise on staff, Johnson said.

Through NNA, Johnson met Brad Hill, who serves as one of the NNA’s representatives on the USPS Mailer’s Technical Advisory Committee. Hill works with postal executives and implementers on issues such as electronic documentation, address quality and the Intelligent Mail Barcode, to name a few. He is also president of Interlink, a Michigan-based company that provides circulation software certified under the Postal Service’s PAVE program to more than 1,500 publications in the U.S. He has been with Interlink for 10 years.

Johnson purchased Interlink software through Hill and estimates it will save him more than $1,400 a year in postage alone. The software also saves staff time and effort. His company mails about 4,200 newspapers per week.

“It is very easy to use,” he said. “You don’t need a postal person. You enter in the information and it takes minutes to publish the postal report. Reports are electronically submitted into the USPS PostalOne system.”

In addition, Johnson notes that the software automatically updates information used to create the annual periodical mailer postal statement: “You push a button and its done. It used to take at least 16 hours a year for someone to work on it.,” he said. “It also counts your e-edition circulation in the system.”

Additional benefits include speed and quality:

• Papers mailed to subscribers out of his area are delivered one day faster using the IMb system.
• Postal reports are high quality. “The postal employees never question them and they have support from Interlink. It’s impossible for local postal employees to be an expert at periodical mailings. Interlink specializes in periodicals and has helped guide local postal employees as well as newspapers staffs on how to fully utilize PostalOne software.”

“Small newspaper publishers today need to partner with their vendors to be successful,” Johnson said. “They can no longer do it on their own. They need to partner with many different vendors to get their paper published and this is just one of those vendors.”