Over the course of the past several months, we’ve received quite a few calls from long-time, avid readers who said they’ve always received the Neighborhood News in their mailboxes in the past, but suddenly stopped receiving them.
As the guy who has to write the checks to the post office to mail our publications in both of our markets to every residence and business in every postal carrier route we serve, I knew I had to investigate.
But somehow, even though I first started taking a look at our recent distribution numbers when we received the first phone call, I’ll admit that other things always seemed to take precedence — e.g., I got married in March, celebrated my 25 years of Neighborhood News in April and have been redoubling my efforts to use the funding we have received from the Google News Initiative to continue to expand our video and online content.
Towards that end, we also recently finally changed our website’s address — to NeighborhoodNewsOnline.net (see below) — and our primary YouTube channel is now “Neighborhood News Online,” instead of the old WCNT-tv.
In other words, we’ve been busy, but not too busy for me to finally sit down with the online Every Door Direct Mail service offered through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS.com) and figure out how people who always got our publications — especially the Wesley Chapel edition — suddenly stopped receiving it.
I also had another hint that something was up because our distribution number in fast-growing Wesley Chapel had actually gone down since late 2018 — even though we were still paying to mail to every home and every business in all of our carrier routes.
Just as an explanation, our communities are all on what the post office calls “rural” (and a few “contract”) carrier routes, where we don’t have to address each individual piece that gets mailed, as you have to do with “city” carrier routes, like in South Tampa. All of our large, master-planned communities have multiple carrier routes serving them, and we always try to make sure we distribute to all of the carrier routes serving all of the largest (and some of the smaller) communities in zip codes 33543, 33544 & 33545.
The problem is that Wesley Chapel continues to grow so fast that even we — and the post office (like your GPS, right?) — have had trouble keeping up with all of that growth.
What happens is that when a new community — like, says, Estancia at Wiregrass or Epperson — first starts building, the USPS simply adds those homes to an existing carrier route, usually a route that is geographically near the new development.
But, once that community reaches a certain threshhold, the post office will usually create a new carrier route, with all of that new community’s homes and businesses. And no, the USPS doesn’t tell us when they take this type of action — it’s up to us to update our count every 30 to no more than 90 days.
In the case of Wesley Chapel, several hundred addresses were taken off a few existing carrier routes to create new routes. If we didn’t immediately add those new routes, not only did those new communities not receive our editions, there were even some older, more established communities (like WaterGrass) that may have been taken off one route and added to one of the new routes, to “fill them out” with more “drops” for the carriers handling those new routes.
So, after I did my research, I found that in late 2018, the carrier routes we delivered to included more than 23,000 “drops” total. As of April of this year, however, those same carrier routes had closer to 22,000 total drops. I knew that there had to be new routes that absorbed some of the drops from our existing routes, but it took me a while to figure out which routes I had to add in order to serve all of the homes and businesses in all of the communities we choose to send issues to by direct mail.
So, welcome back all of Epperson, all of WaterGrass, all of the homes in Wiregrass, and welcome Union Park and a couple of the newer sections of Meadow Pointe. In all, our new all-direct-mail distribution in Wesley Chapel is now more than 25,400 residences and businesses (and nearly 60,000 people) — and we might still add one or two more routes to that total.
So, go ahead — ask any other local publisher how many homes and businesses receive their publications in the mail — and ask to see their postal receipts. I’ll gladly share mine if they share theirs with you.
As I mentioned earlier, we have now officially changed over our website to NeighborhoodNewsOnline.net. If you’ve already been visiting our website to keep up on all of the latest local news of New Tampa and Wesley Chapel — with new news stories added every weekday — you can still find us at our old web address, but now, you will be redirected to our new site.
However, if you’ve normally been accessing our website through our “Neighborhood News” Facebook page, the change to the new web address won’t affect you at all.
Whether you’re trying to watch one of our ever-increasing stockpile of new videos or just want to read a story that may or may not have appeared in your print edition of the Neighborhood News, you can still click through to our new website from any of our Facebook posts.
We also recently changed over our YouTube channel from the former WCNT-tv (Wesley Chapel & New Tampa Television) to “Neighborhood News Online” on YouTube and yes, our videos continue to attract a lot of attention — and we are still adding more advertisers buying our Video & Online Subscriptions.
I will update you about our impressive viewership stats next issue. For more info about Neighborhood News print and Video/Online advertising, call (813) 910-2575!