Neither Snow, Nor Rain…REALLY?

Patrick Donahoe
US Postmaster General

By Eric M. Seidel, CEO
The Media Trainers®, LLC
It’s a quotation many of us first heard as children and related it to the Pony Express: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
According to Wikipedia: “This phrase was a translation by Prof. George H. Palmer, Harvard University, from an ancient Greek work of Herodotus describing the Persian system of mounted postal carriers c. 500 B.C.E.”
But, that’s a different story for another day.
Unfortunately, Herodotus did not take into consideration the Internet, email, social networks and, of course, budget deficits. The U.S. Postal Service has been hemorrhaging at staggering rates for years now. So, Saturday mail delivery (excluding packages) will be going the way of the Pony Express as of this coming August.
And Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe is the guy who has to take the heat on this one. He’s not the most compelling (read: exciting) speaker you’ll ever see and/or hear, but, in this case, that serves him well. He also appears to be fairly unflappable.
In a Fox Business Network interview, Donahoe held his own quite well when confronted by an aggressive Denis Kneale. However, for the sake of brevity and technique, I’d like to select two specific Q&As in the broadcast.
First, an obvious question, why not privatize the service completely? Sell it to corporate America. Donahoe’s response, in essence, some people would be left out, especially in rural areas where delivery is not necessarily cost-effective. That was a good message for many viewers.

Another question: there’s so much junk mail, why not raise the rates for the senders? Unfortunately, Donahoe failed to answer this one, although he made a terrific case for the effectiveness of “junk mail” and the ROI it provides the businesses that mail it out…which would lead you to believe, raising the postage rate for junk mail could be one helpful solution. But, because he failed to respond to the specific question, a really good answer may have been lost on his audience.

Spin or evasion are counter-productive. There are ways to be responsive to questions you don’t like, and still stay on message.
Patrick Donahue did an okay job with most of the questions, but on this one, he swung and missed.

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