If your doorbell rings unexpectedly, it's probably just your neighbor stopping by for a chat. But it could be the Publishers Clearing House (PCH) Prize Patrol letting you know that you've won $10 million. PCH is one of the world's largest direct marketing organizations. Once known primarily for its magazines (and PCH giveaways), the company now makes most of its money from direct mail offerings for household items, personal care products, entertainment, collectibles, and food items. More than 40% of the company's profits go to charities. PCH was founded in 1953 by Harold and LuEsther Mertz and their daughter Joyce Mertz-Gilmore. It is still owned largely by foundations established by the Mertz family.
The company has been keeping up with the times by boosting its digital operations. In 2010 PCH acquired gaming developer Funtank and its Candystand.com property. Funtank creates online video games for companies such as Trident gum, Walt Disney, and Toyota. Its online games bring in 11 million users each month, and PCH made the deal to drive its social, mobile, and web game development capabilities.
Previous efforts on the digital front include PCH's partnership in 2009 with social-media site TriviaTown.com to develop an iPhone application that offers a free trivia game, complete with offers for cash and prizes. PCH is also using social networking sites Twitter, Myspace, and Facebook to reach a younger generation of customers.
Over the years, PCH has been plagued by con artists using its name in phony prize-notification letters and bogus phone calls. The company, which always notifies winners of $10,000 or more in person and never charges fees to collect prizes, has countered the scam by urging people to call its Consumer Affairs division to verify authenticity of prize notifications. – less