Drafting Emails is Now Easier Than Ever

We’re always looking for ways to streamline the steps required to get things done with our platforms. Last year, we launched a simpler version of our Send an Email Wizard by combining all four steps onto one page called the Single Page View. We’ve offered clients both options for doing this—the Wizard View and Single Page View. The deployment of the Single Page View has been an overwhelming success providing for faster drafting, editing and transmission of emails. We are now updating all accounts to use this view and have removed the Wizard view.

If you haven’t used the Single Page View yet, you will see that it contains all of the same information as the Wizard View, but it is presented on one page. It is much easier to keep track of all of the information contained in the email without having to click back and forth between various steps.

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The Fireside21 team would like to welcome @bridg_eeee to our ranks! http://t.co/vQrmIs51

It appears we had some formatting issues- Thanks @NealKirby!

Welcome to Fireside21, @KennyAmes! http://t.co/RH01Ftc5

Just launched a completely redesigned website for @MacTXPress! Check it out: http://t.co/dQG2cHOh

Just launched a completely redesigned website for @TomLatham! Check it out: http://t.co/OYJ8AfAD

Fireside21 on Twitter >>

Import and Update “People” in a Snap

We released a new and improved update to the import tool for our platform last week.  While it has always been easy to import email lists, this new feature adds support for address files and you can handle this process right in your own office.  This is a big change from the way we have done things in the past and it will give your offices more control over stored contact information since you can make large-scale updates on your own.

If you want to import new (or update existing) constituent and other contact data, this will be a very useful enhancement as it reduces the risk of creating duplicates, makes it easy to add an affiliation to an imported group, and allows for fast data updates.

For a brief summary, here are the steps in the import process:

  1. Browse for CSV document on computer and assign an affiliation (assigning an affiliation is optional).
  2. Select which columns in the CSV will map to existing fields in your Fireside account.
  3. Select which fields to update with imported data.

Below you will find the updates to this tool.

Duplicate Matching
As we process each record in the data file we will search for existing users in the database by Fireside ID, postal addresses + name, and email address depending on which of those are mapped to existing fields.  This prevents any complications with importing contacts without email addresses and reduces the risk of creating duplicates in the database.

Assign an Affiliation
Step 1 of the import process will now let you declare you want an affiliation assigned to everybody in the data file.  You can simply pick the affiliation from a list and this step is done.

Updating Existing Data
The import process considers existing data for a user to be more accurate than the data in an import file.  On step 3 of the import wizard you are presented with a check-box for each user field that has been mapped.  Selecting the check-box tells the system that the imported data is more accurate than the existing data and that information from the imported file should replace the existing data.

As an example, assume the import process located an existing user by his email address.  The data file says his last name is LaFleur but the existing data in the database says his last name is Sawyer.  Checking the check-box for last name on step 3 will result in the record being updated to LaFleur, otherwise it will be left as Saywer.

Visit our support pages for step-by-step import instructions.

Congress is Hearing About Health Care and Taxes This Month

The second half of the year has seen less volume of constituent mail in Washington, DC—although September did pick up from a significant lull in August. Health Care and Taxes top our Congressional Conversation Index (CCI) for the second month in a row.

Refreshing Redesigns

During the last year Fireside21 has launched many redesigned websites for long-time clients. A redesign is about more than just updating the “look” of a website, though that is one component of the process. The overall goal is to ensure that a Member’s website accurately reflects their priorities and constituent needs. Here are a few examples of how redesigns work toward this goal.

Highlight Social Media and Other Communication

Social media integration is a great way to share information with constituents and receive feedback on important issues. Implementing Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube feeds into a website allows constituents to keep up-to-date with the ways their Representative is working for them. Maintaining social media accounts also allows for fast updates that target a variety of demographics. Rep. David Scott’s redesign prominently displays his social media accounts, E-Newsletter signup and contact information on his homepage for easy access. These forms of communication encourage constituents to stay in touch.

Ensure a User-Friendly Website

The goal of every Congressional website is to provide information for constituents in the most effective way. This can include accessibility features like font sizing options, streamlined navigation and content organization strategies. Considering the way constituents seek information on your website is an important part of the redesign process. By reducing the number of “clicks” required to find relevant information on your website, you help constituents access what they need more quickly. These features work together to make a constituent’s visit to your website as helpful as possible.

Call Attention to Issues and Features

With the ability to view your website’s analytics in Fireside Web, it is very easy to see which pages are the most popular with your constituents. A redesign may include ways to make important issues more prominently featured on your website. Website features can also be promoted to encourage constituent participation. Rep. John Boehner’s recent redesign calls attention to his Constituent Mailbag by adding it to a feature section on his homepage. This strategy can be used to highlight a number of features that may be beneficial to constituents.

What Exactly Is Government 2.0?

Government 2.0 may be a buzzword that you have heard floating around our nation’s capitol these days, but do you know exactly what it means? It turns out that the definition isn’t exactly so black and white, and Fireside21 was lucky enough to learn a little more about it at Ogilvy’s Gov 2.0 Exchange. There, a panelist of 5 speakers, ranging from reporters, entrepreneurs, and government workers all had an opportunity to share their vision of what the new catch phrase Government 2.0 meant to them.

As I mentioned previously, Government 2.0 isn’t something that can be defined in a sentence. It’s more of a new way of life that is being incorporated into our government, the change having come into the spotlight with the 2008 presidential campaign. With the evolution of technology taking such a large role in our lives, it seems that American’s are beginning to demand that government keeps in stride. We want our government to become more transparent and accessible, with individuals participating in debate and decision making more directly. Government 2.0 grew out of what was known as Web 2.0 and it is all about building a culture of online innovation within the government.

Previously, our government was often referred to as a “vending machine”. You put in your money and when you’re not happy with what you get back, all you can do is protest (shake the machine). Today, we are looking to a more efficient and direct way of communicating with our government. It seems as though many departments are on board with this new wave of technology, and it is only a matter of time before we can truly feel the effects. Government websites such as data.gov are already popping up, which provides citizens with searchable raw data as well as an arena for people to openly discuss issues, and collaborate on various public interest subjects. If that’s not enough, search through the various widgets that will give you up to date information about your area.

Government 2.0 is not an idea that will soon be fading into the background, and you may notice a few departments are really gaining momentum. It is all about combining old practices with new technology, and no one is exactly sure what that is going to look like. As one panelist noted “It’s like throwing spaghetti to the wall and seeing what sticks”.