July 15, 2020

Roll Call: Danielle Powell, Director Of Customer Success

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Curate’s employees are some of the most dedicated professionals you’ll ever meet and as an ever growing company it’s exciting to introduce amazing new people joining the team. A resident of Madison, WI Dainelle earned her bachelor's degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison and comes to us most recently from Overture Center for the Arts where she optimized processes and the entire customer experience. 

 

Questions: 

 

What is your role on the team?  

My role at Curate is Director of Customer Success. I will be looking holistically at the customer experience as they use our website. I hope to focus on best practices for using Curate through customer education and quality assurance. 

 

At what point will a customer meet you?

During the onboarding process I collaborate with customers to ensure Curate is setup correctly for their organization. During this time I also provide training and tips as they start to use the website.  I want to help customers to fully utilize Curate’s features so they get the most out of their subscription.  Lastly, I’m here to assist  if there are any issues, questions, or suggestions for new website features.

 

What unique skills do you bring to the team?

I come from a background of building processes and teams. In many ways, building teams and helping customers are similar. It's all about setting the person up for success (team member or customer) by giving them the tools and helping them to achieve their goals. As Curate grows, my focus on process improvement will also help us scale Customer Success, and continue to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction. 

 

What excites you about joining the Curate team? 

I’m excited to join such a vibrant and innovative team. There are so many skills sets represented on this team-I know I am sure to learn and grow from the experience on a daily basis. 

 

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I’m currently learning American Sign Language so I can communicate more effectively with my Mother In-Law, who is deaf. 

 

What is the craziest adventure you’ve ever been on?

In 2019 my husband and I decided to get married in Mexico. We were looking for something small and relaxed. Little did we know we would have 65 friends and family decide to come with us! Two months prior to our wedding we found out the hotel we had chosen had an outbreak of illness and the outcome was not looking promising. 

After a few VERY stressful days the entire group was moved to a new hotel and the rest was history! We got married on Las Caletas private island. Our guests were transported to the island on a private catamaran and they were even able to see whales along the way. It was everything we could have dreamed of and more.

July 15, 2020

COVID-19 Weekly Snapshot Powered by Curate

COVID Snapshot email header (1)

By Curate Team

 

Curate COVID-19 Municipality Updates



Curate’s commitment is to keep you informed on the important discussions happening across the country. Many communities are discussing important legislation and we thank you for staying vigilant. The database is updated regularly, with each state updated once per week. 

 

This week we took a look at conversations relating to face covering requirements across the nation. We have compiled some heat-maps of where these conversations are taking place, you can take a look below. These heat-maps are from the last four weeks.

 

Face Coverings 14-20

Face Coverings 21-27 june

Face Coverings 28-4

Face Coverings 5-11 jul

 

As shown on the heat-maps, the rate at which these conversations were happening in the middle of June was higher than the rate at which we were having these conversations in this past week. 

Originally, as local governments began discussing the pandemic there was an uptick in the number of conversations at the local municipal level to require its residents to wear masks. 

Unfortunately, as the country re-opened in these last couple of weeks, we have seen the rate of these conversations diminishing, consequently, we have seen the rate of coronavirus infections rise across the nation. 

Below you will find the 7 day average graph of coronavirus cases across the country¹. We can tell from the graph below that there has been a massive increase in coronavirus infections in these last couple of weeks - and the lack of discussions around face coverings is troubling. 

 

Screen Shot 2020-07-13 at 12.40.43 PM

 

What you might find interesting from this data, is that we are seeing a decline in the rate of face covering conversations, this might indicate that local municipalities are trying to get back to "normal" and re-open their economies sooner rather than later. As well as relaxing the previous mandatory policies for face coverings. 

This data also goes hand in hand with the map² below. We have seen coronavirus infections dramatically increasing in these last couple of weeks.

 

Screen Shot 2020-07-13 at 12.41.48 PM

The map above, illustrates the current COVID-19 situation across the country³, as of July 14, 2020.

 

At Curate it is our priority to be sharing with the community the effects COVID-19 is having across the country in local municipalities. We hope that you found this snapshot helpful to determine what is being discussed across the nation this week. 

If we can be helpful to you during this time, please reach out to us at hello@curatesolutions.com.

 

1,2,3: Graphs and images are courtesy of The New York Times Coronavirus Tracker.

July 10, 2020

How to avoid surprise fees and taxes with proactive local government advocacy

By Taralinda Willis

Wooden Blocks with the text Fees

 

The job of the local government affairs director is a challenging one on the best of days. Understaffed and under-resourced local governments don’t always have staff available to fully examine the hidden or downstream implications of every decision they make, so businesses have to closely monitor discussions at the local level to avoid getting stung with an unfair ordinance or fee. 

 

Before I launched Curate as an advocacy tool, I spent almost two years meeting with local government lobbyists to understand how they kept up with the erratic and enigmatic decision-making processes at the dozens of local government branches within their coverage areas. They often felt like they had to be everywhere all the time in order to stay ahead. Their schedules were packed with networking events, council meetings, and coffee dates with lawmakers, and between those events they spent hours each week scanning Google alerts, reading dozens of local newspapers, and digging through local government websites to find meeting agendas. 

 

Without a systematic tool for knowing what is being talked about in a local government branch at any given time, this is the kind of effort it takes to make sure your organization has a seat at the table for key local policy decisions. 

 

And when relying on gossip and news briefs to stay informed, even the most experienced government affairs people miss things that end up costing their organizations thousands of dollars. 

 

For example, one of our clients, a utility company in Wisconsin, found us after a rural community changed the cost of a street opening permit from $50 to $5,000. Anytime the company needed to dig up a street to maintain pipes or add a service line, they’d have to pay 100 times as much as they had before. 

 

Had they caught wind of that fee change before it was passed, they might have been able to share how much of an undue burden it would be on their operations, and lobby for a more reasonable fee increase. 

 

Sudden fee increases are a major concern for many of our clients across a variety of industries. Homebuilders and developers use Curate to monitor local government meeting minutes and agendas for mentions of things like sewer connection fee increases. In Madison, that’s a particularly sore subject because in 2017, the sewerage district proposed an immediate 400 percent increase in sewer connection fees, and only after a major lobbying effort did they decide to stretch the increase out over eight years. 

 

Another client, the Wisconsin Realtors Association, uses Curate to identify legislative trends in communities across the state that they would otherwise only hear about if a member made a complaint. Using Curate, they can keep tabs on any municipality that makes a move to restrict homeowners rights, and if they identify a trend, they can proactively escalate the issue to the state level. 

 

"If we find out about issues far enough up in the process, we can eliminate problems before they become fires,” says Tom Larson, director of government affairs for Wisconsin Realtors Association. 

 

Using Curate alongside state and federal tracking tools

 

Government affairs professionals today wouldn’t dream of doing their job at the state or national level without the use of legislation tracking software. They would never walk into an event where state-level legislators and staffers are present without reviewing all of the relevant bills and regulations that are on the table or coming up, and what issues are facing resistance and which ones are gaining popularity. 

 

But that’s often exactly what they do when they engage with local government. They rely on networking to find out what issues are on the agenda, and then they scramble to address those issues after the fact. 

 

With Curate’s weekly reports, the government relations job becomes more about building grassroots support to influence future legislation than just finding proposed ordinances and hoping you have time to influence them. By providing the relevant snippets of the minutes from government meetings, as well as the agendas, Curate helps you see what’s around the corner.

 

We know that adding another software tool to your tool belt can be overwhelming at first. In theory, it would be nice if your state or federal tracker could do a good job alerting you about local issues, but if you’re like me, you’ve found that all-in-one software solutions only ever scratch the surface of all the problems they aim to solve. Curate allows you to dive deep into the discussions happening at over 11,000 local government entities in the U.S. - without getting overwhelmed.

 

When reviewing your Curate report, you can gain the same insight you’d get from sitting in on hundreds of local government meetings per month in approximately one hour per week.

 

Our most successful customers build a weekly habit around their Curate report, and they find that their report has created a structure around their local advocacy efforts. Instead of racing around town attending meetings to find out what’s on the agenda—or in pandemic times, filling every hour with Zoom meetings—they first read their Curate report, and then strategically plan their coffee dates and networking events to get face-time with stakeholders in the issues they know are already being discussed. 


Schedule a discovery call to find out how Curate can help you change your local government advocacy program from reactive to proactive.

June 23, 2020

3 ways to incorporate Curate’s weekly local government reports into your workflow

By Curate Team

Business people using mobile phones and laptops, calculating and discussing charts and diagrams for financial report

 

Curate’s most successful clients build a weekly routine around their Curate report to make sure that they never miss out on critical local government intelligence. 

 

But depending on the type of organization, we have seen our customers find success with a variety of approaches to using our software. 

 

Typically, their strategies fall into one of three approaches to using our research tool: the centralized approach, the decentralized approach, and the hybrid. 

 

Centralized Access and Knowledge Sharing

 

With the centralized approach, one team member reviews the report each week and shares the highlights with their members or coworkers. 

 

This approach is a favorite among statewide or regional business associations who need to inform their membership base about important local legislation in order to engage them in advocacy. Local lawmakers don’t always give a lot of credit to a statewide association appearing to complain about a proposed ordinance or fee, but they’re much more likely to listen to a local business owner talking about how the proposal would negatively or positively impact them and the jobs their business supports. 

 

Our customers using a centralized approach often have a process where one staff member with experience in local policymaking reviews the Curate report and flags two or three issues that are worth further research. They look into those issues to see if they represent a worrisome trend or a worthwhile opportunity, and then they share the highlights with members for their general awareness or to inspire political involvement. They might add some commentary and context to the items to make sure that business owners who aren’t current on every detail about local politics can fully understand the issue and take action. 

 

Decentralized Access and Independent Research

 

With the decentralized approach, an entire team gains access to the Curate report, and each team member reviews the section of the report that corresponds to their geographic region or topical focus. Users can filter Curate reports by county [or by keyword], making it easy for team members to share one account. 

 

This approach works well for business development and sales personnel, particularly in the construction industry. They don’t need a government affairs specialist to help them make sense of the projects being discussed in local government, they just need to be the first contractor in town to know about them. 

 

Decentralized Access combined with Centralized Research and Knowledge Sharing

 

The hybrid approach gives everyone in the organization access to the weekly reports as well as the Curate research database so that they can research issues on their own, but ultimately relies on one government affairs director to make sure nothing slips between the cracks. 

 

That centralized researcher is responsible for making sure that the Curate report is catching all of the most relevant topics for the organization, since issues shift over time. And as those issues shift, they educate the rest of their team on the background of the issue so each person will know what to look for in the reports.

 

Successful customers gain peace of mind by reviewing Curate every week 

 

Whether they use the centralized, decentralized, or a hybrid approach, our most successful customers build a weekly habit around their Curate report.

 

The average Curate customer tracks 94 counties in 2 states, and they spend about an hour per week reviewing their report—typically over a cup of coffee on a relaxing Friday morning.

 

Our customers tell us that their Curate report has created a structure around their local advocacy and business development efforts that previously felt like a game of Whack-A-Mole. And in our opinion, that’s a better outcome for both the humans and the moles.

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