What We've Found
Postcards are easy to use and a relatively inexpensive format to reach large numbers of people. Mailing postcards can be so easy, it is important to ask if they will be worthwhile. Will it be read? Will it be returned? For postcards that are giving information, we find they work best if used in conjunction with other tools such as press releases
, and public meetings
. Regardless of what kind of postcard you are using, keep the format in mind: postcards are small so the message must be short and concise.
Just the Facts
There are two basic types of postcard mailings: one is a postcard a person receives from a project team or organization and the second is a postcard a person returns to a project team or organization.
Postcards that people receive can be invitations to events and activities or reminders such as asking the recipient to complete and return a survey
. An announcement about the availability of new publications or reports could have photographs of the covers, brief descriptions about them, and where to get copies.
Other types of postcards require action. Typically they are included in a package of information such as a letter, a brochure
or some other document that explains the purpose of the mailing. Because the recipient is being asked to give information such as fill-in-the-blanks or check boxes, the postcard should be self-stamped and self-addressed to facilitate easy return. The request may be for names to include on a mailing list or recruiting volunteers, pre-registering for a conference or workshop, or a simple opinion survey to learn the degrees of support for, or opposition to, a particular project or action.
Only use postcards to solicit opinions if the project or question can be thoroughly explained with an accompanying brochure or letter, or when the projects has been running long enough, and has generated enough publicity, that it can be safely assumed that most people will have well-informed opinions.
How To Do It
1. Determine the purpose
What is the goal of the postcard mailing? What will be accomplished? How do postcards fit into the project’s overall public involvement plan
? These questions are applicable whether the postcards will be used for giving information or receiving it. If it is the latter, be sure to plan how the data will be used. People will want to see evidence that the time they took to complete an opinion survey, no matter how brief, was taken into account.2. Design and print
Good design and careful writing can give even small postcards a big impact. Depending upon how they will be used, the postcards may need special design considerations such as a perforated edge to detach from a brochure or prepaid postage for return. Options for printing postcards can range from seeking a professional to using blank postcards designed for a computer printer. If you use your District bulk mailing permit, the permit number can also be printed on the postcard.3. Send them out
To mail them, generate labels from a mailing list. If there are more than 200 to send out, get a permit to use bulk mail. Bulk mail requires some extra work such as sorting by zip code (your database can be segregated by zip code to make it easier), but the result is significant cost savings especially for nonprofit groups. Find out more by contacting a U.S. Post Office or your District Administrative Office. KYTC offices usually maintain an account with the USPS for bulk mailings. If costs for postage are too prohibitive, or there is no mailing list, another option is to place the postcards in public places such as libraries, supermarkets, and coffee shops. Be sure they are attached to, or placed adjacent to an explanatory flyer