Efforts by a wide coalition of publishers, small business owners, and even labor unions representing directory employees have succeeded in getting the San Francisco board of supervisors to delay a vote on efforts to institute an opt-in ordinance for Yellow Pages.
The opt-in ordinance has been championed by Board of Supervisors president David Chiu, who has already announced plans to run for mayor along with his new found interest in environmental issues (where have you been Joe DiMaggio?). We have consistently been suspicious of local politicians like Chiu who have found that attacking phone book distribution can be an easy way to get your pro-environment ticket punched. As a result the Yellow Pages industry had to organize the coalition, many of whom have competing interests, to press Board members to oppose the bill since:
- Publisher and Association opt-out options are available for San Francisco residents.
- It will cost jobs in a state where unemployment has been running well above the already levels nationwide.
- Would hurt small businesses who know that print Yellow Pages are an effective advertising mechanisms with high ROI’s.
Now Board members will wait for a study from the city economist to determine if the objections about job loss and hardship it will cause for small businesses are valid. The report is due May 10th. Clearly efforts by the coalition got the Board’s attention as comments from some of the Board members about jobs at risk came up.
In an email this morning, Yellow Pages Association President Neg Norton indicated that the industry is continuing to work to get small businesses more involved in the effort:
“We’ve begun a merchant outreach program this week in the key districts that will produce letters, videos and petitions as well as a phone bank program where concerned citizens can be patched through to their supervisor to express their opinions. We’ll also begin to gather data on the issues they’re likely to raise with us. It’s been an amazing effort by the coalition we’ve established and we’re making progress.”
While the war is far from over, the industry has clearly won the first battle. The industry needs to continue to rally behind the associations to combat this effort and send a message to local officials like Chiu that there are other areas their environmental efforts could be better focused than phone books to gain an even bigger impact and cost reduction without hurting small businesses and jobs.
Keep fighting the fight…