History of Marketing and Newsletters Part 3 Kiplinger Washington Letter and Others

About the history of marketing and newsletters, about some popular newsletters including Funny Funny World and the Kiplinger Washington Letter.

A Newsletter on Newsletters

"The one person in 3 who has somehow managed to retain a sense of humor" is the audience aimed at by Funny Funny World. "Or, as Groucho Marx said, 'If you can find something to laugh at these days, you're not paying attention.'" Since 1971, this biweekly has been reprinting news items. For example: "Memphis--a man handed a lady teller in the Bank of Memphis a note which read, 'Give me all your money.' The note had been written on a withdrawal slip, but the teller calmly told the man he had not filled out the blanks properly. She told him to go over to a desk and fill it out correctly. The would-be bank robber was so unnerved that he fled. (Memphis Press-Scimitar)"

And anecdotes and one-liners: From Redd Foxx--"My advice is to smoke, eat, live it up a lot. Why be in a hospital dying of nothing?"

The publisher claims an advertising copywriter wrote that he enjoyed reading Funny Funny World because ". . . when you're stuck for an idea, it sure beats staring out the window." (Available for $35 a year from 407 Commercial St., Beverly Hills, Calif. 90210.)

Newsletters can be a significant force in publicizing social ills. Indian Affairs covers legislation affecting American Indians and spot-lighting injustices to the 1st Americans. A recent issue describes "perhaps the most tragic aspect of American Indian life today--the wholesale abduction of children from their families." A survey in selected States showed 25-35% of Indian children taken from their families and placed in foster homes and institutions--"in most cases without due process of law. . . ." This is blamed on social workers ignorant of Indian culture and norms, who "frequently discover child-desertion, neglect, or abandonment, where none exists." (The bimonthly newsletter has a circulation of 85,000. Subscription is by membership donation of $10, students $5, to the Association of American Indian Affairs, 432 Park Ave. South, New York, N.Y. 10016.)

When the late Willard Kiplinger started The Kiplinger Washington Letter over half a century ago ("I just sat down one Wednesday night and wrote it"), he aimed his interpretive reporting of the Government and the economy at businessmen.

Under the helm of Austin Kiplinger, today's Washington Letter still offers blunt opinion: Talk of the U.S.'s becoming independent of foreign oil supplies by 1980 "is a lot of baloney." It reveals inside information: "Government keeps pretty mum" on some risky bank loans that are "in danger of going sour." And it makes predictions--Kiplinger recently devoted an entire issue to over 50 fearless forecasts for the coming decade: "Depression, a world wide bust? . . . No." Inflation, though continuing high, will be "wrestled down in the next 10 years." Gross National Product: "By 1980 . . . 2 trillions. By 1985 . . . 3 trillions." And so on for 4 pages.

An occupational hazard of newsletter prophets is the inaccurate prediction. But readers tend to remember the successes and overlook the bloopers, as long as the ratio is reasonable. On the eve of the 1948 election, one of Kiplinger's publications carried predictions of what "President" Dewey would do. Later, Kiplinger shrugged, said he had made a mistake, and went right on soothsaying. (Costs $24 a year. Write to 1729 H St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006.)

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