When constituents talk back

Since the advent of broadcast communication, damage control has been a top priority for public figures and elected officials. Unfortunately, what has evolved is a status quo of ersatz communication. Public demand to see behind the curtain of bureaucracy is often met with ambiguity, evasive maneuvers, and open-ended statements that have elevated the science of saying nothing into a highly paid art form. But smoke-and-mirror doubletalk doesn’t work anymore, if it ever did, because the truth always speaks for itself.

Consequently, contemporary social media networking has given birth to a Renaissance in public relations. The millennial generation will not settle for less than authentic communication. Taylor Huckaby, a communications officer for BART, San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit system administration, has proven it.

This month, BART has been plagued with delays caused by an electrical problem. Frustrated commuters, accustomed to silence from stuffed-shirt public relations officials, took to social media in droves to give BART a piece of their mind. Huckaby did not sit by in silence, and he did not try to smooth things over with a silver tongue – he was real with them.  He explained that San Francisco’s public transit system has reached the limits of its design lifespan, and that the ongoing maintenance of miles of rails, tunnels and power cables on a shoestring budget was a Herculean task that he and his colleagues were doing their best to manage. He told the citizens on Twitter that, however unsatisfactory the level of service they were getting might be, it was better than they had a right to expect.

The people of San Francisco did not organize a lynch mob and march for City Hall. They understood what Huckaby had to say. They stopped complaining and began talking about solutions.

Public infrastructure all over the country is in a similar state of disrepair, including what used to be the best and brightest our nation had to offer: Washington DC’s now-troubled Metro transit system.  When Metro opened in 1976, it was more than a testament to cutting edge scientific achievement; it was a reflection of American soul, and our collective desire to make the human condition better for everyone.

In the ‘70s, our forebears aspired to become The Great Society, and they worked together to achieve it by replacing the infrastructure that was crumbling in their day. We have come full circle, and the lessons from our transit systems should be cause for reflection. If we want to see a better tomorrow, we have to invest in it now.

For the last fourteen years, iConstituent has empowered people like you to communicate authentically with your public about the important work of government. We offer multiple solutions, including superb data and customer relations management, telephone town hall meeting organization, and 24/7 IT hardware support.  You can rely on us to turn your digital infrastructure into an open and engaging communications suite that will resonate with your constituents.  And we’re working daily to improve the products you use to serve the public. If you have any needs we can help with, just call: (202) 355-9355.

Did you miss it?

Posted by Becky Baylor; Help Desk Support Manager

Last week, we presented "Signal CRM: What's Next?" to Signal CRM users in DC to highlight the new efficient mail processing features that will be available in Signal 1.3, which is currently being rolled out to offices. Our staff will be reaching out to offices on an individual basis to schedule your upgrade date.

This was an informative session providing a detailed breakdown of the features, as well as highlighting a few developments on the way. Everyone will be upgraded to Signal 1.3 over the next few weeks, so if you work with mail processing or are simply curious about the changes, this is a session you definitely don't want to miss.

If you didn't get a chance to participate in last week's session, don't worry, we've got you covered! "Signal CRM: What's Next?" will be presented via webinar every Tuesday for the next several weeks to coincide with the rollout. Click the button below to sign up!

Other resources include our previous post: "Signal 1.3 Is on It's Way!" and our Help Center article "What's New in Signal 1.3?" If you have any additional questions, please email support@iconstituent.com

Colorado uses Google Apps to make life easier for employees and citizen

Posted by Zain Khan; Chief Executive Officer

Exciting to see great companies like SalesForce and Google push their platforms/technology into Government. This is a nice little video from Google.

From ConnectedGovernment.org

Bringing Silicon Valley to Congress

Posted by Zain Khan; Chief Executive Officer

Great article posted by Jason Putorti, written by Congressional Candidate Ro Khanna.“Bringing Silicon Valley to Congress.” 

From ConnectedGovernment.org

Brookhurst Street: Finding inspiration from my past

Posted by Zain Khan; Chief Executive Officer

Brookhurst Street Highway Exit
The exit we took to get to our office.

It seems like ages ago when my business partners and I started our company. One of our first “real” offices (other offices included garages, homes, and wherever else the rent was cheap) was on Brookhurst Street – a spacious office in an old, 50's era building, not too far from Disneyland. Our neighbors in the building ran very diverse businesses – from call centers to religious cults providing exorcisms; you could hear the screams down the hall. Those were tough days, but we were kept alive by all the enormous possibilities that the Internet promised. Recently, one of my business partners sent me an image of the Brookhurst Street exit. For years, the mere site of this exit gave me a sense of anxiety – a reminder of some very tough times. Now, however, it brings back a some great memories. What I remember most was the tremendous sense innovation, creativity and belief that anyone, even some scrappy entrepreneurs like us, could achieve something great in this new era of technology. So today…

Read the rest on ConnectedGovernment.org

Signal 1.3 is on its way!

Posted by Becky Baylor; Help Desk Manager

We're excited to share our latest release Signal 1.3! This release is focused on streamlining mail processing, so you'll notice there are fewer clicks, more grouping and selecting options, and new efficiency features like macros and shortcut keys. As always, we've been listening to your feedback, so we've included quite a few requested features, as well. Overall, we think you'll find that our latest release has made Signal an even more powerful tool for managing constituent communication. Signal 1.3 will be released as a staggered roll out to offices over the next few weeks, so join us for on February 12th at 3:30 pm ET for "Signal CRM: What's Next?"

10 Ways Signal 1.3 Improves Mail Processing

  1. More viewer options because not everyone is a primary mail sorter. A standard view will present a more comfortable view of the mail for users that just need to see the basics – the contact's name and message. A custom view is available for those who need to see a lot of information at a glance.
  2. No more pop-up windows for assigning and editing activities, which results in fewer clicks and an uninterrupted view of your mail.
  3. Multi-level grouping and breadcrumb navigation to more easily drill down to the specific records you need.
  4. Saved grouping for each folder since you have different goals when sorting new mail in the inbox than you do when working with your assigned mail.
  5. Keyboard shortcuts that allow you to quickly perform common actions with a few keystrokes.
  6. Personalized macros that save frequently used assignments for future use.
  7. More automatic merge fields for casework that provide a new set of options for including information in your letters to constituents.
  8. More intuitive letter writing process with relabeling of common editing actions and dynamic changes to the editing screen based on your current step in the editing process
  9. Signal CRM and Gateway eNewsletter integration that includes automatic updates to contact records in Signal based on e-newsletter interactions and a new Mailings module that allows you to create and send digital, high volume, email communication natively from Signal CRM with managed IP addresses, full and real deliverability tracking, and all the benefits of the Constituent Gateway eNewsletter platform.
  10. Email interaction tracking so you have more information about email addresses in your database such as the date the email address was last validated, when and who made changes to the email status, and when an email may have bounced.

To learn about these improvements and more, see our Help Center article What's New in Signal 1.3?

Know Thy Customer

Posted by Zain Khan; Chief Executive Officer

Great article from the Washington Post on the McDonald’s turnaround. “This is what happens when McDonald’s listens to its customers.” Boils down to last quote in the article which pretty much sums up everything all great company’s must do:

“I think listening to the customer is going to the most important rule McDonald’s has to follow,” said Tristano. “As long as they’re doing that, they should be fine, because the customer usually has the answer.”

Via ConnectedGovernment.org

What makes a company sizzle?

Posted by Zain Khan; Chief Executive Officer

Is it the buzz? Spin? Maybe, it’s the price? Or, a company’s amazing support? This year, the company I founded is totally focused on its core product and core competence – iConstituent CRM. Our goal is simple: make a product that people really want and LOVE. It’s a co-creative process; work hand in hand with your customers and stay focused on their needs.

Read the rest on ConnectedGovernment.org

GovTech Fund

Posted by Zain Khan; Chief Executive Officer

Kudos to Ron Bouganim and Tim O’Reilly at the GovTech Fund. Not only do they see the enormous opportunities that lie ahead in the government/technology space, they are also making big and exciting investments.

Via ConnectedGovernment.org

Conversation with Jason Putorti

Posted by Zain Khan; Chief Executive Officer

I had a chance to sit down with Jason Putorti, an executive at Brigade Media, who is one of the thought leaders in “citizen engagement.” Here's his take on the future of government technology.

Zain: How will the upcoming elections impact these businesses and/or how will these businesses impact the elections?

Jason: Interest in the election will drive news consumption, as it always has, but this year we’re seeing something different. I think the Donald Trump effect has been huge. This is a reality performer and showman who knows exactly how to manipulate the media, and he’s been masterful at it. It’s maddening to turn on the news and see the news media talk about Donald Trump while simultaneously lamenting that they’re talking about Donald Trump. It reminds me of Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom where the fictional nightly news anchor Will McAvoy is forced to dissect the Casey Anthony case just to get the ratings high enough to host a political debate. Donald Trump, is in essence, meeting Americans where we are: watching the Kardashians on the E! channel, watching The Real Housewives on Bravo, and buying People magazine every week. The media is unfortunately propelling the Trump candidacy because we can’t stop watching it. It’s a cycle that pundits no longer know will be broken.

Top-down campaign technology, meaning tools that presidential campaigns and independent expenditure groups are using, continue to get more advanced every cycle… 

Read the full post on ConnectedGovernment.org