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final destination for the content.

Helen Whelan, CEO and co-founder of Success Television, which stopped running the videos last month, says the agreement was that she would run the material in return for the USPS promoting it by buying time on local cable networks and advertising it in post offices. But the USPS didn't promote it, she says. "We thought the Postal Service videos were great in terms of content, but how can you think you are going to be successful if you put content up without promoting it," she says.

DeVar says the USPS had a similar experience with XM Radio, which touts itself as "commercial-free radio." Last December, it paid to sponsor a holiday music segment by airing a 10-second brand message reminding listeners that "free carrier pickup of all your postage-paid holiday packages is available at usps.com." It has since been told that it can't do that again this year unless messages directing audiences to the site are removed. "If we can't drive people to a Web site, there is no point," he says.

What's Next?

The USPS will try out RSS feeds to augment its print publication called Deliver, which launched in February 2005 and is directed at marketers. The endeavor comes with its own risks. RSS feeds by definition are for Internet-savvy consumers who want instant news on their preferred topic without having to search through endless Web sites. Constantly changing Web sites stand to benefit the most from RSS feeds, but usps.com doesn't change often enough to make the feeds worthwhile.

And, as Veto notes, "our podcasting experience tells us that people are not very likely to ask the Internet to send them everything new and exciting about the Postal Service." So a decision was made to base the feed content on material from Deliver, which has featured marketing stories about American Airlines, American Express and the U.S. Army, among others. USPS execs hope the feed, which will debut in January as part of a revamped Web site, will increase Deliver's circulation.

Going forward, DeVar knows he doesn't want to lose the positive association people have with their mailbox. After all, if people wanted to eliminate items from their mailboxes like catalogs, they could do so by only shopping online. But USPS research shows that people want both the print catalog and the ability to shop online. The two methods complement each other.

That's how DeVar thinks new media should be addressed, with the newer communication vehicles complementing and extending the reach of existing methods. "We can't lose sight of what our core business is about," he says. "But we can't just ignore the Internet as a media channel. We do know that if we don't stay relevant, we will lose people."