Pre-Blackout Information for Constituent Gateway

The 90 day blackout period before a State Primary or a General election prohibits Members from sending out unsolicited mass mailings to their constituents using public funds.  Mass mailings are defined as a single message that is sent to more than 500 individuals; this rule applies to paper mailings and E-Newsletters.

One of the advantages of utilizing our E-Newsletter software is the ability to collect subscribers to your E-Newsletter.  The Franking Commission has allowed Members to send E-Newsletters to those constituents that have subscribed at any time and throughout the 90 day blackout period. It is important to amass your subscriber list so that you can send your E-Newsletters to as many of your constituents as possible at any time but especially during the blackout period.

One approach is to simply inform your constituents of the approaching blackout period, explaining what it means and how they can continue to receive updates.   Once your message has been approved by Franking, we recommend that you send this message to your "All Contacts" list two or three times, excluding your subscribers each time, before your blackout period starts.  This will allow you to collect as many new subscribers as possible from your "All Contacts" list. Below in italics is some sample text that you can use as a starting point to customize your own message:

I want to stay in touch with you about the work that I am doing for the XXth District. However, by law I will be unable to e-mail you from (type start of Blackout Date Here) until the (Type date of your State's Primary Here) primary election unless you indicate that you want to receive updates from me.

It’s an easy process. All you do is click the link below and I will be able to send you updates on legislation and issues important to you, including health care reform.

Thank you for taking a moment to read this e-mail. I hope you will subscribe.

Click here (Link to your Profile page) to receive periodic e-mail updates.

Capitol Correspond Tips and Tricks for Casework

We want you to think about how your office manages transferring casework inquiries to your District Office. If you import correspondence into the Viewer or even review it in Outlook and then print out casework inquiries to send to one of your District staff members, you’re not alone! But, you do have other options… 

What May Not Know

A lot of offices don’t realize that your DC staff can actually convert correspondence to a case and assign it to the correct staff member without wasting paper and without losing the time it takes to either mail or fax casework inquiries. And for District Office staff: don’t worry, no one in DC has to provide a “Case Type;” they can leave that up to you!

Converting Correspondence to a Case

Once you have imported a piece of correspondence from the Viewer to a Tickler, you can convert it to a case easily:

1.     Double-click on the activity in the Tickler. 
2.     In the “Constituent Detail” screen, click on the “Activity Options” button.
3.     Choose “Convert to Case” from the menu.

In the new window that displays, there is a “New” checkbox in the top left corner. Selecting this box will provide three fields, the “Staff,” “Status,” and “Case Type.” You do not have to provide a “Case Type,” but you must select a “Staff” and “Status” for the case you are creating. 

You may also see a row in the window with existing case properties (i.e., a status of active, a “Case Type,” and an assigned staff), which means that there is already a case for this constituent. In this instance, you have the choice of selecting the row and converting the correspondence into the existing case (a.k.a. creating a new “casework activity”).

If you do not see a row indicating that there is an existing case, you must select the “New” checkbox and assign a “Staff” and “Status.”

For You District Office Staff

How can you differentiate from your existing cases from those that are newly-received? Once correspondence has been converted to a case, you can easily identify it in your Tickler. Simply click on the column header labeled “Case Type” to sort. Those cases that do not have a “Case Type” assigned are displayed at the top; any cases with no “Case Type” assigned are new cases that require your attention.  

Judy Biggert Launches New Web Site by iConstituent

iConsttiuent is pleased to announce the launch of Representative Judy Biggert's web site.  The new site combines rich constituent-oriented content with a very clean contemporary design.

Visit Rep. Biggert's web site at http://judybiggert.house.gov/.

List Management in Constituent Gateway

How are your e-newsletter contact lists performing?

It's always useful to know how many valid email addresses are available throughout the many email lists you keep in Constituent Gateway. In order to accommodate the way you work, there are two ways to access that information: E-Stats and Contacts.

E-Stats

Hover over the “E-Stats” tab, and select “List Member Counts” to view all of the email lists in your account. You can choose from an individual list, or hold down the CTRL key to select multiple lists. After making your selection, click “Submit". Results for each list that you have selected display names of constituents, their email address(es), and the number of email addresses that are active.

Contacts

You may also choose to hover over the “Contacts” tab, and select "List Management". This page displays all of the active lists in your account. From this page, you can see a count of the “Good” and “Total” emails in each list. Click “Update” to refresh these numbers. The last column labeled “Action” has a link labeled “Details". Click on the “Details” link to view the “Total” number of email addresses and the total number of “Good” email addresses. You can also see the number of people who have subscribed and unsubscribed in this list. As a reminder, an e-mail is removed from the “Good” list if the user unsubscribes or if the e-mail hard bounces  – meaning, it is an e-mail that does not actually exist.

Using Daily Print in Capitol Correspond

If you’re not already aware, Capitol Correspond’s Daily Print utility has A LOT of crucial functionality. Not only is it used for mass printing and emailing, but Daily Print is also used for making assignments, closing correspondence in mass, and reopening it.

What you probably know

To make an assignment, change your Action to “Assign,” and from the Selection section of Daily Print, choose the code that you want to assign to new criteria (i.e., a response letter or a different staff member). Then from the Assignments section of Daily Print, choose the new criteria that you wish to assign (i.e., the letter code or the staff ID). Unfortunately, we can’t go through all of Daily Print’s uses in a short newsletter, but we can share a little known but very useful feature…

What you may not know

Have you ever noticed there are two buttons to perform your action: “Execute” and “Execute All?” It’s not a typo: you have the ability to perform multiple actions on a group of activities at one time!

Here’s a scenario from an office using Capitol Correspond: I have been receiving tons of different inquiries with regard to healthcare, and my various mail processors have been assigning these messages to different Group Codes. However, all of these different batches, or Groups, should actually be assigned to the same Group Code since they should all receive the same response. I want to assign these various Groups to a single Group and then email a response to all of them at once. In Daily Print, you can assign each different Group Code to the same Group AND assign the response at the same time. For each action you’re trying to accomplish, click the “Add” button. It’s subtle, but by clicking the “Add” button, you’re adding another Daily Print Job within the same window. (Notice the new scroll bar on the right side of the window.)

The end result

In the first job, you can assign one of your extraneous healthcare Groups to the primary Group Code. You can do the same in the second job and so on. In the last job, select the primary Group (that now contains all of the records that should receive the same response), assign the response, and click “Execute All”. Each job will be performed, one after the other, saving you the hassle of re-opening Daily Print and waiting for each instance of the Print Job to finish independently.

Capitol Correspond Group Manager

The past year has proven to be one of the most overwhelming with regard to receiving and responding to constituent correspondence. While the influx of email has been enormous, hard copy mail and faxes have also increased in volume, too! Group Manager is the fastest and easiest way to enter and track USPS mail and printed faxes.

If you have used Group Manager, you are aware that the first step is to give the group a code. This may be an auto-generated code provided by Capitol Correspond, or it may one that you’ve created.

After you have entered the code and given a description to the group, you select “Create”. Next, you are asked to fill out the “Activity Default”. Most users choose to use the same code in the activity default field. What many users may not know is that there is a reason that these two fields are separate and that there is a use for the activity default field.

An “Activity Default” is a way of capturing all of the activity values, such as “Interest Code”, “In Type”, “Out Type”, “Comments”, “Letter”, or anything you’re applying to the activity line being created for each of the constituents being entered into the group.

Capturing all of the activity’s information in the “Activity Default” means that you don’t have to remember all of it or type it in the next time you wish to add constituents to the group. Rather, you simply type in the Group Code, click “Modify”, type in the “Activity Default”, which automatically loads the activity values for you, and move on to the next page to add constituents.

That means if you add 50 constituents to the group one day, you can go back the next day and add 50 more without repeating any of the yesterday’s work!

It’s very easy to create one “Activity Default” for multiple groups. If you find yourself creating a lot of different groups for mail that all fall under the topic of Healthcare, you could create an “Activity Default” called “Health”. The activity values are the same for each group. You already have a separate “Group Code” and description that differentiates one group from another. You’re saving time regardless of if the only field you have to modify is a “Letter” or “In Type”. Plus, using a single “Activity Default” helps to minimize mistakes by new or unfamiliar users working with Group Manager by not requiring them to pick all of the activity’s values.

If you have any questions about Group Manager, or would like some assistance in implementing the above process into your workflow, please call one of our training staff at (202) 544-1722.

New Web Site for Representative Kendrick Meek Launched

iConsttiuent is pleased to announce the launch of Representative Kendrick Meek's newly redesigned web site. During the last few months, iConstituent worked closely with Rep. Meek's office to successfully develop an elegant constituent-focused web presence for Florida’s 17th Congressional District.

Visit Rep. Meek's web site at http://kendrickmeek.house.gov.

Web site screen shot of Rep. Kendrick Meeks' new redesign.