Publishers Clearing House
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|Headquarters||Port Washington, New York, United States|
|Key people||Robin B. Smith, Chairman
Andrew Goldberg, President and CEO
Deborah Holland, Executive Vice President
H.W. Low, Senior Vice President
Todd Sloane, Senior Vice President/Creative
John Princiotta, Senior Vice President/Marketing
Craig Anderson, Senior Vice President/Operations
Rick Busch, Senior Vice President/CFO
Christopher L. Irving, Assistant Vice President, Consumer & Legal Affairs
|Revenue||US $700 Million (2010)|
|Net income||US $? Million (2006)|
Publishers Clearing House (PCH) is an American multi-channel direct-marketing company that offers discounted magazine subscriptions and household merchandise to consumers with the chance to enter one of its many ongoing sweepstakes. As a direct-marketing firm, it has no retail offices; its operations are concentrated in several physical offices, including its world headquarters in Port Washington, New York. It reaches consumers through direct-mail offers and online communications supported by its web site.
A limited-liability company, it is headquartered in the same town where the company founder, Harold Mertz, started the company from his garage. The street adjoining the local post office in Port Washington, LuEsther Mertz Plaza, is named after Mertz's wife.
The company was founded in 1953 by Harold and LuEsther Mertz and their daughter, Joyce Mertz-Gilmore. Mertz had worked for Look magazine and believed that magazine subscriptions could be sold in a more efficient manner by bundling them together in a single mass mailing offering the lowest introductory prices. With mailings offering consumers an array of discounted subscription offers, the company soon became the largest magazine-circulation agency in the industry.
In the late 1980s, the company began awarding sweepstakes prizes in live recorded moments featuring the Prize Patrol with cameras recording the event for commercial use.
While the company's product offerings were broadened with a wide range of merchandise and collectibles in the mid-1980s, magazines sales accounted for the majority of the company's sales until the early 2000s. Merchandise now accounts for the majority of its sales. The company obtains additional sales from renting the names of those who respond to the sweepstakes, or make a purchase, to other mail order companies.
Between 1994 and 2010, the company paid over $52 million to settle charges that its magazine promotions were misleading. It "agreed to change the ways it promotes its sweepstakes" and apologized for the "harm done in the past by its deceptive practices". The first of these settlements was with 14 states, in August 1994. In September 2010 it violated these previous agreements, and paid $3.5 million to settle contempt charges (see "Government Regulation" section below).
By 2000, its magazine and merchandise sales plummeted at least 30 percent "amid bad publicity from lawsuits now numbering 25 in which individuals and attorneys general – including New York's – alleged that it deceived consumers in its frequent mailings." This resulted in a layoff of a quarter of its 800-person work force. 
Between 2007 and 2012 the odds of winning its sweepstakes have soared from 1 in 330 million to 1 in 1.2 billion. (See "Odds of Winning" section below for details and citations)
Online development 
The company launched its first website, PCH.com in 1999, providing an online means to enter the company's sweepstakes and shop for magazine and product offerings.
In 2006, the company acquired Blingo Inc., a search engine website that offered a chance to win prizes with the first 25 searches of the day. Blingo was later re-branded as PCH Search and Win and added entries into its multi-million dollar sweepstakes on the first search of the day . Like other search engines, the site's revenue source is inclusion of paid search results with the organic search listings.
As reported by The New York Times, late in 2008 the company expanded its traditional direct-mail and online offers to more youthful channels including Twitter and iPhone applications. According to a December 22, 2008, Times article, the objective of these new offers was to use the registration information to increase PCH’s mailing lists.
In 2009, it partnered with Arkadium to launch PCHGames.com, an ad-supported site with both display and video ads.
In 2010, PCH "...acquired branded games developer and publisher Funtank along with its casual online gaming site Candystand.com." "With the acquisition, Publishers Clearing House hopes to strengthen its presence in the casual gaming business, enhance its advertising offerings and attempt to reach whole new audiences on the Web and through social and mobile platforms." 
In January 2012, the company acquired mobile marketing company Liquid Wireless. Terms of the deal were not released, but it is in line with their recent increase in focus in digital and social platforms. As stated above, "the objective of these new offers was to use the registration information to increase PCH’s mailing lists." Renting the names of people on these lists to other direct marketers helps generate income for PCH, as can be seen on a number of list rental sites.
By 2012 PCH was still using direct mail, but had shifted its focus to social media and the web to obtain sweepstakes entries.
Government regulation 
In September 2010, to settle contempt charges that it had violated one of the 2001 agreements, (“marketing practices of misleading consumers to believe purchasing magazines and other products will increase their chance to win the jackpot)”  the company entered into a supplemental judgment with 33 states to extend the consumer protections set forth in its 2000 and 2001 multi-state settlements. A total amount of $3.5 million was paid to cover the total cost of the states' joint investigation. Specific terms of the 2010 settlement include:
- Increased outreach to customers with frequent purchases (High Activity Customers) to ensure that they understand that “no purchase necessary" means that no purchase is necessary to enter or win, a key principle of a legitimate sweepstakes
- Cease using the tactic of sending a communication from the “Board of Judges” to indicate that the recipient is close to winning
- Enhanced description of different giveaways offered in the same promotional mailing
- Additional messaging that sweepstakes winners are selected randomly
- Hire an ombudsman to review the company's solicitations on a quarterly basis.
In December 2007, it agreed to a formal letter of understanding with the Iowa Attorney General that requires the company to implement a program to identify elderly consumers at the point where their spending is just beginning to be excessive – when an Iowan age 65 or over has spent $500 or more in a calendar quarter for its products.
The rules put in place include:
- Not misrepresenting the chances of winning a prize
- Not requesting certain information or action from recipients which would lead them to believe they have won. This includes their whereabouts at the time the prize is awarded or their preference for events related to the awarding of the prize
- Not using a personalized simulated check to mislead a recipient into believing he/she has won or is likely to win
- Not representing that a recipient has an enhanced chance of winning a prize, is in a select group, has "never been closer" to winning or enjoys a special status in the sweepstakes and
- Not misrepresenting a sweepstakes mailing as being delivered by special delivery or that any communications are from a federal or state government or other official entity
- A provision that prohibits PCH from making any false statement, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. In addition, the settlement puts in place strict prohibitions against misleading or deceptive statements or omissions and, for the first time, prohibits PCH from implying, by any means whatsoever, anything that it is prohibited from stating directly.
- Prohibiting PCH from discriminating between consumers who order magazine subscriptions and those who do not. From now on, PCH may only use a single entry form for the sweepstakes, to be used by all consumers whether they order products from PCH or not. In the past, customers who did not buy magazines or other products were forced to search for a small, plain entry card among the various colorful mail pieces PCH included with the contest solicitation. This practice, now ended, led consumers inevitably to conclude that those who ordered had a better chance to win than those who did not.
- Increased safeguards to protect that small minority of vulnerable PCH customers who may continue to be confused about whether buying products has any impact on their chances of winning.
In August 1994, Publishers Clearing House “agreed to change the ways it promotes its sweepstakes and pay $490,000 in costs to settle allegations by 14 states that its magazine promotions were misleading.” This Settlement with the states’ attorneys general came without PCH admitting any wrongdoing.
Odds of winning 
As posted on the company's website on October 21, 2012, the "Est. Odds of Winning" the largest prize (Giveaway #1830) are 1 in 1,215,500,000. This is decrease of 30 percent from the September 2011 Giveaway #1400 (which ended November 2011), where the odds were 1 in 1,750,000,000.
In 2008, "The estimated odds for the $10 million drawing were 505,000,000 to one. That's equivalent to sending over 1.3 million entries every day for a year (and the sweep doesn't even run for a full year)."
In 2007, for the $10 million drawing, the PCH website said "your odds of winning are 1 in 330 million."
Prize Patrol 
The company has come to be known for its Prize Patrol that surprises winners at their homes, work or other locations with prize awards captured on video. Since their introduction in 1989 these reality-TV style winning moments have been prominently featured in the Publishers Clearing House commercials and, more recently, in the company's online acquisition efforts, websites and social media communications. The PCH Prize Patrol has made in-person appearances and prize awards on such popular TV shows as The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Price is Right. Their surprise winning moments have been spoofed by Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and the cast of Saturday Night Live, woven into the plots of movies like Let's Go to Prison,  The Sentinel and Knight and Day and the subject of cartoons from Cathy to Ziggy.
See also 
- Staff (January 4, 2012). "Publishers Clearing House List Rentals". List Service Corp.
- Evans,David (August 25, 1994). "Contest Offers Mislead Entrants Publishers Clearing House Pays $490,000 and Promises To Change Its Promotions". Bloomberg Business News (via High Beam).
- Campanelli, Melissa (June 26, 2001). "Publishers Clearing House Acquires Blingo". Direct Marketing News.
- Crowell, Grant (December 15, 2003). "How Search Engines Make Money". Search Engine Watch.
- "Publishers Clearing House and Arkadium Partner To Launch PCHGames.com 2.0" (Press release). PR Log. December 7, 2009.
- Wauters, Robin (December 6, 2010). "Publishers Clearing House Buys Funtank, Gaming Site Candystand.com". TechCrunch.com.
- Mickey, Bill (January 11, 2012). "Publishers Clearing House Buys Mobile Lead-Gen Provider Liquid Wireless". Foliomag.com.
- "Publishers Clearing House Merchandise Buyers Mailing List". Lists.nextmark.com. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
- "Package Insert Program: PUBLISHERS CLEARING HOUSE PACKAGE INSERT PROGRAM by Direct Media|Millard Inc". Datacards.dmminfo.com. 2013-03-25. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
- "http://archive.chicagobreakingbusiness.com/2010/09/publishers-clearing-house-to-pay-3-5m-settlement.html" (Press release).
- "http://www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/press/news/2010/09/09/attorney_general_announces_multistate_35_million_settlement_publishers_clearin" (Press release).
- Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes Information Center
- Iowa Attorney General (December 1, 2007). "Letter of Understanding".
- New York Attorney General (August 20, 2000). "Spitzer Announces Landmark Settlement with Publishers Clearing House" (Press release).
- Staff (August 23, 2000). "Publishers Clearing House Strikes Deceptive-Practices Accord". The New York Times.
- Texas Attorney General (June 26, 2001). "Texas, 25 States Reach Settlement with Sweepstakes Giant" (Press release).
- "History of Publishers Clearing House – FundingUniverse". Fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
- "View Rules and Facts". Rules.pch.com. 2013-02-28. Retrieved 2013-03-31.
- "Publishers Clearing House - $10 Million Giveaway Number 1170 Expired". About.com. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
- "Neutral Source Overstated Risk Perception the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes". Neutralsource.org. January 8, 2007. Retrieved May 23, 2011.
- "Publishers Clearing House". International Awards Treasury. September 19, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- Stuart Elliot (July 11, 2011). "Prize Patrol Heads Over to AOL". The New York Times.
- PCH Mega Prize Winner (Video Clip). AOL.
- "Cover Story: Full Sweep". Target Marketing. November 1. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- "Million-Dollar Moments". The Oprah Winfrey Show. October 28, 2009. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- "Million-Dollar Moments 5". The Oprah Winfrey Show. October 28, 2009. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- Upping The Ante On Plinko! The Price Is Right (Video Clip). youtube.com: Price Is Right. April 9, 2012.
- Maloni, J (April 9, 2012). "Full week of Plinko, chance to win 100K when PCH Prize Patrol visits The Price is Right". Niagara Frontier Publications. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- PCH On TV Jay Leno Spoofs the PCH Prize Patrol (Video Clip). youtube.com: PCHarchive. January 24, 2011.
- Conan O'Brien Promo with Jane (Video Clip). youtube.com. January 29, 2011.
- Saturday Night Live Publishers Clearing House Giveaway (Video Clip). hulu.com.
- "Let's Go to Prison". Wikipedia. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- Let's Go To Prison Trailer (Video Clip). youtube.com. October 23, 2006.
- "The Sentinel". Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- Smith, Joseph (July 1, 2010). "Movie Review Knight and Day". SunGazette.com. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- Ivers, Patrick. "Laramie Movie Scope Knight and Day". Retrieved July 31, 2012.
- "Official Rules." Publishers Clearing House website. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- pch.com, the company's official website