November 01, 2010
In an election year, readers are used to conflicting messages. The challenger attacks the incumbent and the incumbent responds, defending his own record and counter-attacking the challenger. It’s a game as old as politics itself and one that will be played out time and time again for as long as our current system stands. It’s also a phenomenon that isn’t strictly limited to politics, as the Yellow Pages industry can attest to. Time and time again in recent months, the industry has found itself under assault from the blog-o-sphere, standing accused of being everything from “unused and unwanted” to one of the top killers of trees on the planet. Today, the industry responded as any entity should when attacked– YPA responded with facts.
The Yellow Pages Association released their Environmental Fact Sheet today to counter some of the arguments being used to tear down the perception of the industry in the public eye. The entire document is available but a few key points bear mentioning:
Print and Internet Yellow Pages received 16.9 billion references in 2009.
- Almost 7 out of 10 adults (68%) contacted a business after finding it in the print Yellow Pages.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that Yellow Pages directories represent only 0.3% of the municipal solid waste stream. Newspapers and standard mail, on the other hand, make up 24 times that amount – 4.9% and 2.4%, respectively. (Source: Municipal Solid Waste in the United States, 2008 Facts and Figures, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
- Many Yellow Pages are printed with vegetable‐based ink that poses no danger to ground water and adhesives in the binding process that are non‐toxic.
Sometimes, the worst thing an entity can do is respond on the defensive. To do so requires reiterating the accusations leveled against it– reinforcing those very statements in the minds of those who are listening. It’s the old logic of “if they’re having to defend themselves, there must be something to all of this.” Unfortunately, the more someone defends themselves, the more guilty they can appear. Rather than address the constant barrage by the few naysayers who claim that Yellow Pages is the worst blight upon our civilization since cholera and smallpox, the industry as a whole should concentrate on the positive aspects of the product set. Growing up, I can actively recall seeing commercials for the Yellow Pages, telling me to “let my fingers do the walking.” Today, the industry should be touting just how easy Yellow Pages apps are to use on smart phones, how inexpensive Yellow Pages advertising is compared to other less-effective media, and the return-on-investment that can be generated by a successful Yellow Pages program. Nothing casts down an ill-informed naysayer than concrete positive statements about the very entity they are seeking to tear down. If the bloggers were correct, Yellow Pages usuage numbers would be measured in dozens rather than billions of searches. If the naysayers were correct, cities would be smothered under a vast sea of moldy water-logged directories that threatened to choke the very life out of the inhabitants. Instead, usage numbers show that the Yellow Pages weathered the current economic uncertainty far better than most media. Those same numbers show that the product is still widely used rather that existing in a state of usage free fall.
It’s always easy to level accusations at an entity as the burden of proof always falls on the accused. As long as people give attention to the accusations, the bloggers and the naysayers will continue to level their claims that the Yellow Pages are poisoning the planet and destroying our way of life. To the industry, I say this– be PROUD of your product! Talk about how cost-effective and useful both the print and internet versions of the Yellow Pages are. Advertise just how easy it is to find fast relevant data on a smart phone by using an IYP app. Highlight the reasons why the products have remained one of the single most effective sources of local business information since Reuben H. Donnelly printed the first “official” Yellow Pages directory in 1886. Don’t let the words of a few pundits shift the voice of your products to the defensive! The Yellow Pages are still used and still welcome in far more homes and business than they are rejected. Yes, the naysayers will always cry loudly but if their voices fall upon the deaf ears of a populace that rejects their message, how long will they continue to cry “wolf?” As the popular 90’s television series The X-Files was fond of stating: “the truth is out there.” It just happens to show that Yellow Pages are still a valuable tool for connecting local businesses with consumers at the moment that they are needed most.