Quick Tips for Efficiency on the CRM

We like things to be quick and efficient. But not at the expense of helping people connect. That’s why we count on our CRM to do both: it streamlines your workflow while also making sure to get out those birthday and anniversary cards. “The CRM helps build and maintain relationships with an office’s constituents,” says Kara Peeler, iConstituent’s process management consultant.

So without further ado, here’s some tips about how our CRM works to make your work life a whole lot easier:

Search Easy.
Our search feature updates automatically as the database is updated, doubles as reporting and statistics searching, and saves search queries.

Streamline Workflow.
With an electronic approval process that mimics an office’s series of tasks, you can run reports, easily know how long communications are taking for approval and easily resolve bottlenecks.

Go Green.
We let you get important mail and faxes as attachments to keep your office paperless, green and organized.

Save Time.
When you import Excel spreadsheets, you can automatically generate correspondence for contacts on that sheet and tag them for groups and issues

Create Reports.
Our Executive Summary Report allows you to see mail trends on a weekly basis such as the top five most popular letters and create reports based on date parameters.

Track Your Constituents.
With the ability to view people who are interacting with the newsletters you’ve sent from Constituent Gateway, you can identify constituents that are more or less active with your outreach. 

Organize Your Contacts.
The Constituent Gateway CRM isn’t just for legislative correspondence and casework.  You can use it to track Flag Requests, Tour Requests, constituent outreach, Academies, Grants, and more.  Log company information, organization contacts, and Town Hall attendees, and more.

Prioritize Your Workload.
Create subfolders to organize your pending mail based on type of correspondence, received date, importance, or any other criteria you set so that you know where to start working first.

Give it a Personal Touch.
The more tailored your responses, the greater impact your have!  Create personalized, unique responses faster than ever and easily search for language throughout your sent messages to copy and paste into new responses.

We want to know: What areas need a little work when it comes to efficiency in your office?

What's the Problem with Tweeting?

Are Twitter posts breaking the rules of the House of Representatives? This is a question that is hotly up for debate. 

A recent story on NPR talks about an early proposal in the works that would regulate how members of Congress post videos on the Web, while also addressing the future of Congressisonal members when it comes to Twitter.

Read an interview on the topic with Andrew Noyes, a writer with Congress Daily and the blogger from Tech Daily Dose here.

Social networking sometimes seems like the Wild West, with the rules being made up as we go. What do you think?

Part Two: Telephone Town Hall Benchmarks

In the first part of our Town Hall serieswe told you about polls, geo-targeting, and timing. Now we’ll get you up to speed on a few more benchmarks to optimize your Telephone Town Hall:

Publicize it
If you take the time to have a Town Hall, you might as well let as many people as you can know about it. Publish on your Facebook and Twitter profiles, and you get a double-whammy: When a viewer RSVPs, be sure that you sign then up for your e-newsletter, too. Another way to get the word out is adding the time and date of the upcoming Town Hall into your staff email signatures during the week prior to the event, which can also link to the RSVP/enewsletter sign-up form.

Feature a Special Guest
Try booking someone who will attract more attention — and generate buzz — to your Town Hall. This could be a prominent doctor, the mayor, the commissioner, or any big-name player in your state. And if you want to promote bi-partisanship, try inviting your counterpart on the other side of the aisle.

Create a Video Follow-up
No matter how thorough, every Townhall leaves a few questions left unanswered. In this case, grab a video camera and record the answers to commonly asked questions, and then email your constituents the video. If you don’t have individual email addresses, put the video on your website on a dedicated telephone town hall page.

We want to know: What benchmarks have you reached for your Telephone Town Hall?

Part One: Telephone Town Hall Benchmarks

Our Telephone Town Hall is packed with features for you to hold live town hall meetings over the telephone. But are you making the most of it? In the first part of our two-part series, we’ll give you benchmarks so you can see for yourself:

Polls:
Our software lets you conduct interactive polls that allow constituents to vote over the phone. You don’t even need to wait: we give you real time results.  Have you tried the polling feature?

Geo-targeting: 
Find out where you need to go in your district to find constituents who you haven’t yet engaged. Then you can build lists — or have us build them for you — that are geo-targeted to specific areas. 

Timing: 
Take advantage of our knowledge about town halls: Research shows that the best times for telephone town halls are between 7-8 pm your time, and Tuesdays and Thursdays are traditionally the best days.

We want to know:  How do you use the Telephone Town Hall feature?

Benchmarks: Are Your Efforts at Improving Communications Paying Off?

You put time and effort into improving your communications. So how do you know if it’s really worthwhile? Are you improving year to year? Here are a few questions to ask  yourself — and some practical answers to help you determine where to put your efforts.

Email subscribers

Question: Is my number of email subscribers growing?

Track the number of subscribers over time so that you can easily compare over the past three, six, or 12 months. If the number hasn’t grown, pay closer attention to promoting your e-newsletter via an email blast with surveys to your all contacts. You can also try making the sign-up more visible on your site and putting signup sheets in your offices for visiting constituents.

Social media

Question: Are you growing the number of followers on Social Media?

Go to your administrative portal on Facebook and click on Insights. Here, you can figure out if your interactions and post views are rising. If the numbers haven’t changed, try posting more frequently, and interacting with comments to create an ongoing discussion.  Also check on Twitter to make sure your number of followers is growing.  If not, follow more relevant people — and watch your follows increase.

Google Analytics

Question: Are people spending more time on your site?

We build in Google Analytics into websites, so you can easily determine if you had more unique visitors and if more people are looking at your pages than last year. If they aren’t, then put your energy into creating compelling content, interesting pictures, and a constantly updated blog. 

CRM

Question: Are you responding more quickly to constituents? 

Track your progress with our CRM on how many days it takes you to respond to someone. If it hasn’t changed, then examine your office workflow and focus on this piece of communications until your response time decreases.

Getting There: How to Create a Google District Map

It’s true that some people don’t like to use maps. But in the case of your Congressional district, maps are a good thing. A district map serves as a visual way to let your constituents know what your boss is up to. It highlights important locations like district offices and landmarks, and lets your constituents interact by posting comments, plotting directions, and sharing the map with friends.

No more excuses. Create a Google Map for more information, exposure and ease. Here’s how:

Grab the .KML File

  • Go to http://govtrack.us
  • Click on Research
  • Click on Find a Representative or Senator
  • Enter the name of your boss and click Go
  • Click on Map for your congressional District
  • Click on Embed this Map at the bottom of the page under Map Tools
  • Right click on this KML file and select the option to download it to your computer

Create Your Google Map

  • Log into your office’s Google account (Don’t use your personal account!)
  • Go to Google Maps
  • Click on My Maps on the left pane
  • Click onCreate New Map
  • Give your map a title and a description (e.g. Title: The 91st Congressional District of KY. Description: Map of office locations and Congressman Smith’s travels within our great district.
  • Click on Import and upload the .KML file
  • Click on the 0 and rename the outline to the title of your district map.
  • Search for your district office or any other important locations using the search bar. Once you find them, click on the marker and add the location to your map.
  • You’ll get a prompt at the top of the page that will take you back to your map.
  • Edit the location to change the name, include address and phone number information and click save.
  • After entering all of your map points, save the map and obtain the embed code and/or link to the map for use on your enewsletter, website, and social media pages. Click Link at the top right of the screen and then you’re able to share your newly created map!

Need further assistance? Contact support@iConstituent.com today.

Building Blocks: Three Tips to Build Trust in Your Social Media Brand

“Trust me.” Famous last words. But when it comes to social media, we actually believe it. When people trust your brand, they will create a lasting relationship with your office. But trust takes time, the building blocks need to be stacked slowly and carefully. Here’s a few tips on trust-building for your social media brand:

  1. Tell your story.
    Your story is what makes you different from the rest. When you share it with others, they will respond with stories of their own. This creates a valuable dialogue and emotional connection that no amount of advertising can buy. Keep your stories updated and relevant to what’s happening in the world. The last thing your readers want to see is something outdated.
  2. Take the long view.
    Building trust is a relationship, and most relationships we know take time to build. If someone re-tweets your post, take the time to thank them. And treat your readers the way you want to be treated — don’t give them the hard sell. No one likes that, especially these days when we are inundated with information.
  3. Get involved in your community.
    Or find worthy causes through Facebook. Post what you do on Twitter or Facebook, Whatever route you decide to go, remember that community development is a key way to build trust in yours as a caring and compassionate brand.

We want to know: How do you build trust?

What The Buzz?

The buzzers on the Hill can seem archaic in our high-tech world. And even to the most hardened veteran, they can be confusing. But they are a fact of life. If you are new to the Hill, or need a refresher, Marci Harris from PopVox gives the lowdown on the buzzers:  

1 Long Bell: Short Quorum Calls

  • 1 long bell, pause, 3 bells, 3 lights on left: Short quorum call that ends when 100 or more Members are present
  • 1 long bell, pause, 3 lights on left extinguished: Quorum call is over

2 Bells: Votes

  • 2 Bells, 2 lights on left: 15 minute vote by electronic device (bells repeat every 5 minutes after first bell)
  • 2 bells, 2 lights on left, pause, 2 more bells: 15 minute vote by roll call.  (Bells repeat when the Clerk reaches the R’s in the first call of the roll.)
  • 2 bells, pause, 5 more bells: First vote on clustered votes. (2 bells repeat 5 minutes after the first bell.)
    • First vote is a 15-minute vote
    • Each successive vote signaled by 5 bells

3 Bells: 15-min Quorum Calls

  • 3 bells, 3 lights on left: 15 minute quorum call (Bells repeat 5 minutes after the first bell.)
  • 3 bells, pause, 3 more bells: 5 minute quorum call by roll call. (Bells repeat when the Clerk reaches the R’s in the first call of the roll.)            
  • 3 bells, pause, 5 more bells” 15 minute quorum call that may be followed immediately by a five-minute recorded vote.

4 Bells: Adjournment       

  • 4 bells, 4 lights on left: Adjournment of the House

5 Bells: 5-Min Votes

  • 5 bells, 5 lights on left: Any five-minute vote.

6 Bells: Recess

  • 6 bells, 6 lights on left: Recess of the House.

12 Bells: Warning             

  • 12 bells @ 2-second intervals, 6 lights on left: Civil Defense Warning

7th Light: House in Session

We want to know: Do you know what the lights and buzzers mean?