October 2020

Change Brings Challenge, Challenge Brings Change

It is a huge understatement to say 2020 has been a year filled with challenges and changes.  

While my vision for my first year as president of the Greeting Card Association certainly did not include a global pandemic that would require cancellation of all live events, I am both pleased and proud of the fact that the GCA did more than just rise to the challenges presented by COVID by converting Noted and the LOUIE Awards ceremony to successful virtual events. We also developed more ways for members to engage with the association and fellow members, making the GCA more relevant than ever. From our bi-weekly Town Hall meetings, led by “Mayor” Carlos Llanso, providing open forums for discussions covering all aspects of the industry, to our Mighty Networks online forum connecting all our community, to the first ever Black Makers Pitch Program, your association is more active and relevant than ever.  

Our annual Workshop & Retreat is our next major event to pivot to virtual, and Dave Phipps, Lindsay Henry, and a strong committee of volunteers are putting together a great event. One significant benefit of these moves to virtual has been the ability for more members to participate, as cost, time, and travel investments have all been lowered. Without those cost barriers, we fully expect to break all attendance records at this year’s Workshop; I hope to “see” all of you there—for the educational sessions, the discussion groups, and, yes, the online happy hours! Check it out here

The Workshop will be the first opportunity for most members to “meet” our new Executive Director, Nora Weiser, and her team at Civica Associations, Conferences & Exhibitions, which the GCA has engaged to provide management services and staff support. The Executive Committee conducted a national search for a new management team that we believe can help drive the GCA to the next level, shaping an even more responsive, supportive, inclusive, and forward-looking association for you, our members. All industries have been impacted by COVID, and it has given us a chance to reevaluate how we do things, why we do things, and most importantly how our organization, and the industry we serve, are changing. As a creative industry, we are excited to partner with a creative leader and a creative management company to help us change, grow, and evolve. Please do make a point of introducing yourself to Nora and members of her team during the Workshop; I am confident you will be impressed. 

I cannot conclude this edition of Card Talk without at least mentioning the online “activity” I have been enjoying since “comedian” Bill Maher suggested that Americans stop sending cards and letters through the US Mail in order to “free up” the system for mail-in ballots, claiming that nothing of import has been sent through the mail since the 1970s. I have been trying to convince Mr. Maher to invite me onto his show to explain how misguided he is. 

First, the US mail delivers 425 million letters PER DAY, six days a week. If EVERY American voted by mail, that would be 150 million at most, approximately 1.6% of the total amount of mail the US Postal Service will deliver in the month of October. Second, sending less mail, including direct mail, handwritten letters, or greeting cards would only exacerbate the USPS financial problem by denying USPS needed postage revenue. Finally, he fails to consider that greeting cards are uniquely beneficial to recipients, raising their spirits and mood in a measurable way, and are needed now more than ever in COVID times that have distanced us from family and friends. 

In fact, rather than freeing up the US Mail system, I have argued that we should be sending MORE cards and letters, such as during the recent GCA-sponsored Thinking of You Week, and Free Up the Internet from unnecessary content that is otherwise clogging up our bandwidth, by refraining from streaming RealTime, or other “junk programming” such as Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (an actual Bill Maher movie!), to ensure that the delivery of educational content from schools to our nation’s children can be most effectively delivered. 

Alas, no invitation from Mr. Maher has been forthcoming, but I will continue to #UseTheMail to send #GreetingCards through #USPS, and decline to download humorless content in order to #FreeUpTheInternet. Join me, won’t you? 

Respectfully submitted,

George White, GCA President