Tag Archives: Neg Norton

How to confront a critic of the industry’s environmental efforts

One of the most effective ways I have found to deal with industry critics regarding our environmental position is to simply to engage them in a conversation.  As simple as that concept seems, many are disarmed immediately when you present the simple facts of how the industry has been proactive in the makeup of the materials we use in our print products, the voluntary opt-out programs implemented, and what the real statistics are on the impact of directories to the local waste stream.

Local Search Association President Neg Norton recently demonstrated that on a panel run by the Product Stewardship Institute, a group that has made it their self-appointed duty to confront industries they feel are anti-environment.

Here is the full content of Neg’s response as posted on the Association’s “Insiders” blog.  Good job Neg and the entire LSA team:

 Product Stewardship and the Yellow Pages Industry

Contributed by: Neg Norton

What is the role of government in product stewardship? This question was posed to me as one of five panelists on yesterday’s Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) webinar. Many government officials and recycling professionals listened in, and other panelists included:

According to PSI’s invitation, the purpose of the webinar discussion was to discern, “…whether key [product stewardship] program principles, such as transparency and accountability, are best attained through voluntary, mandatory, or hybrid programs that encompass elements from both approaches.”

During the webinar, I stressed that it is important to not lump all of private industry together when considering how to regulate the environmental impact of products in the marketplace. Government leaders and other key stakeholders should look at what each individual industry is doing and not take a one-size-fits-all approach.

As we know, many states and cities are feeling the budget pinch, and taxpayer money has to be carefully prioritized to protect public health and safety. The bigger the threat, the greater need for government.

Certainly, hazardous products require government oversight in order to protect consumers from injury. As the ACA’s Alison Keane noted, paint is the top household hazardous waste product. That is why the ACA founded “PaintCare,” a non-profit program to manage the reuse, recycling and proposal disposal of unused paint. This industry-support effort is in conjunction with government oversight initiatives that include a per-can assessment fee, convenient paint collection and a management system run by manufacturers.

However, a telephone directory does not present the safety hazards that paint can. And when it comes to the print Yellow Pages, we know that voluntary self-regulation through industry-led efforts works best for consumers, small businesses, and most importantly, taxpayers.

Our industry has been proactive in reducing the carbon footprint of our products and has generated significant results. Last year, we re-launched our successful, industry-funded consumer website, www.YellowPagesOptOut.com. The site, which is provided at no cost to consumers or cities, enables residents and local businesses to choose which directories they receive or stop delivery altogether. The recycling rate for print directories is high and the impact of phone books on the municipal waste stream is miniscule. Moreover, over the past five years, our industry has undergone a 50% reduction of paper use for directory production.

Another factor is whether government and an industry are aligned in their goals. For our industry, we have a common desire with government to reduce the number of unwanted directories. Publishers do not want to incur the cost of printing and delivering a product to a household that does not intend to use it. Local government wants to reduce unwanted directory deliveries but often have competing budgetary demands. So, the industry offers a free solution: a website where consumers can opt-out of phone directory delivery.

Mr. Lifset included in one of his presentation slides that there is, “No sound science to support effectiveness of voluntary approaches to environmental policy,” and that the, “Majority of voluntary schemes collect little or no data… no data, no evidence!” I disagree. For one, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) provides us with credible data on the success of our efforts. Back in 2009, the EPA determined that directories made up three-tenths of one percent of the of discarded paper & paperboard products in the municipal waste stream. Now, however, the EPA has determined that phone directories are such a small part of the municipal waste stream that they no longer see a need to track the product separately.

Mr. Martin noted that Australia had a 77.7% recovery rate for newsprint in 2011. That is very common to the recycling rate for newsprint in the U.S. – which includes telephone directories – of 71.6%. Whether or not the Australian rate includes telephone directories is secondary to the larger point of the commonness and success in paper recycling globally.

While our industry continues to responsibly self-regulate the production, distribution and disposal of our products, we believe that government can play an important role in communicating solutions and options to the public. I shared with the webinar listeners an overview of the collaborative press releases that our industry has issued with state and local lawmakers across the country, several of whom are noted as strong advocates of the environment.

I’m glad that our industry had this opportunity to share our positive story with interested parties on the PSI webinar, and I look forward to continued dialogue.

 

Why go to the “Search Starts Here” conference?

A couple of weeks ago we provided some information on the upcoming 2012 Local Search Association Conference in this article.  The event will take place in Boca Raton, Florida on April 21 to 24thWe recently caught up with Association President Neg Norton to find out how the Search Starts Here themed conference is shaping up.  Since we are less than two months from the event, Neg provided some additional insights to why people should plan to attend this event.

First off, they have lined up a wide range of speakers from across the local search and directory publishing industry.  Neg notes that “it’s a strong agenda and we’re doing a few things differently this year.  We have lots of different topics and more presentation formats than in prior years.”  For example, some recent additions to the speaker lineup include Peter McDonald, CEO, SuperMedia (and Chairman of the Local Search Association);  Alfred Mockett, CEO, Dex One; Ursula Worth, head of directories and web hosting partnerships, Google; Trevor Nadeau, managing director, Yellow Medya (Turkey); Chris Silver Smith, President, Argent Media; Peter Buxton, Buxton Independent Consulting (Germany) and Krishna Pillai, COO and Founder Convergent Media.

At a time when travel budgets are tight, why attend this conference?  Neg summed it up in a concise but valuable comment – “you’ll walk away with actionable insights you can put in play the first day you are back on the job.  There will be insights from several pieces of research –– forward-looking analysis of relevant market data from both LSA and BIA/Kelsey, vSplash analysis of 500,000 websites from around the world (invitation only session), insights from local media sales reps, and more.”  Clearly, the ROI for coming to the conference is real.

If you go a little deeper in the agenda, you will find keynote speeches, panels, and fireside chats.  Some highlights:

  • Neg and Peter McDonald will provide a state of the association and industry overview,
  • Google will be talking about what they see on social, local and mobile products.
  • SMG Directory Marketing will have one of their clients focus on how a sophisticated national advertiser builds their local media plan.
  • Axiom Sales Force Development will host a session focused on tools and techniques for effective sales coaching.
  • A “lightening round” from new supplier members with new technologies and applications who will have just a short 4 minutes to talk about the newest stuff they are working on and rolling out.

The LSA conference will also continue the format they have used successfully for two prior conferences – Strategic Exchange Sessions where suppliers can get private meetings with key prospects. Neg indicated we can expect to see some new companies in the Strategic Exchange Sessions this year—companies like Adflexer, Willow Tree Apps, Axiom Sales Force Development as well as some faces from last year such as Yellow Magic, PlaceLinks, The Andersen Group, Amdocs, Acxiom—-to name just a few.

If you are looking to meet and talk with new companies, potential new partners, the conference has a number of social networking opportunities.  Last year the conference attracted around 400 attendees.  This year’s event is on track to reach the same levels.  Given the expansion of the association beyond the traditional directory space, expect a noticeable increase in “non-traditional” companies.  Many will be companies the industry is already doing business with; and others are looking to enter the space with their new products and services.  Here are some of the formal networking events scheduled:

  • There is the annual golf tournament on Sunday morning, a more casual environment for making and building great connections.
  • The Industry Excellence Awards will be held Sunday evening, with a reception that follows allows for mixing and mingling over drinks and light refreshments.
  • The President’s New Member and Associate Member Reception (invitation only) offers a chance to meet the newest      members of the association, as well as those who support the local search industry.
  • The Poolside Party Monday night offers a lively environment for conversation over dinner and cocktails.

And with all that, it is Florida, so attendees can maybe get a chance to enjoy the sunshine and great weather they have this time of year.  This truly is no long just a yellow pages conference; it really is a true local search happening….

Go register now at: http://bit.ly/wdQ4Ux. Tell them YP Talk sent you…

Yellow Page Publishers Vow to Continue Fight Againist Seattle Required Opt-Out Law

The Local Search Association released this comment after a local judge again denied the industry relief from the recently passed required opt-out law in Seattle.  The release highlights a number of soild reasons why this law will ultimatley be struck down:

Yellow Pages Publishers
to Fight Court Decision Upholding Unnecessary Phone Book Law

Official Industry
Opt-out Site at http://www.YellowPagesOptOut.com Remains Most Sustainable

Approach; No-cost for
Cities, No Burden for Taxpayers and Privacy Guaranteed for

Residents

SEATTLE – June 29, 2011 – Yellow Pages publishers expressed
disappointment today over the decision by a U.S. District Court judge to uphold
Seattle’s unnecessary phone book law, which is marred by First Amendment and
privacy concerns, duplication, waste, and inefficiency. Publishers plan to
appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Court failed to honor the First Amendment rights of directory publishers and the citizens of Seattle.  The Yellow Pages industry is committed to consumer choice, which is why we launched http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com earlier this year. The route the City of Seattle
has chosen to take is completely unnecessary,” said Neg Norton, president,
Local Search Association. “Seattle taxpayers should be outraged that the City
continues to waste its resources on a system that is unnecessary and, we
believe, illegal.”

Privacy Concerns with Duplicative, City-run System

The industry’s national site, www.yellowpagesoptout.com, offers consumers a number of advantages including privacy protections that Seattle’s site does not provide, an easy to use interface, and the ability to stop delivery of both Yellow Pages and white pages phone books.  Information collected through www.yellowpagesoptout.com will only be shared with publishers for the purpose of customizing their directory delivery records and will not be sold to third parties or used by city governments or their website vendors for marketing purposes. The City has made no such assurances for its opt-out program or website.

“The City is touting the number of opt-out requests it has received though its new website, but isn’t able to indicate whether those stop or reduce-delivery requests were new or duplicate requests from residents who have already opted-out through www.yellowpagesoptout.com or individual publishers’ sites. The industry launched the site to make it simpler for consumers anywhere in the country to stop delivery. A patchwork of duplicative municipal sites does nothing except make things confusing and expensive. It’s hard to understand why the City of Seattle continues to waste its resources defending an unnecessary system when they claim to have consumers’ interest in mind,” said Larry Angove, president and CEO, Association of Directory Publishers.

One National Site is the Sustainable Approach

The industry’s existing site is the most sustainable approach. The benefits include:

  • Protected personal information: Information collected through http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com is used only to allow consumers to customize their directory delivery choices and will not be sold to third parties — the City has made no such assurances.
  • No burden to cities, taxpayers, or city government staff: Industry assumes all costs associated with development, maintenance and promotion of http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com.
  • Greater awareness: One official site will result in greater awareness for consumers across the country.
  • Integration with publishers’ technology systems: http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com works seamlessly with the publishers’ systems; no third-party vendor has the same level of existing    knowledge.
  • Library of directory covers make it easier for residents to identify the directories they wish to keep or stop.

Providing Valuable & Sustainable Local Search Options

This year the Local Search Association issued its second annual sustainability report, which for the first time reflects the internationally recognized Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework. Key highlights from the 2011 report include:

  • Directory paper use decreased an additional 8.1 percent in 2010, totaling nearly 35 percent in paper reduction since 2007.
  • The percentage of directories recycled increased to 36.9 percent according to the latest Environmental Protection Agency data. This figure is up from 21.4 percent in last year’s report.
  • A comprehensive website at www.yellowpagesoptout.com that makes it easy to choose to reduce or stop directory delivery.
  • Telephone directories continue to only represent 0.3 percent of the solid waste stream, significantly less than newspapers (3.2 percent) and office paper (2.2 percent).
  • An array of strategic partnerships focused on environmental, economic and social performance.

Local Search Association has also formed a Sustainability Committee to continue developing sustainable business practices that make sense for their stakeholders, as well as to establish new benchmarks for the industry.

To read the full Local Search Association 2011 Sustainability Report, please visit: www.localsearchassociation.org