Bells and whistles

Patty Snediker broke some bad news to her daughter in March: Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the girl’s 14th birthday party was canceled.

“It was hard,” said Snediker, a retail associate at the Roxbury, NY, Post Office. “I had to tell her that with everything going on, there would be no party. She was so sad.”

When Snediker relayed the story to Roxbury Postmaster Jim Hull, he had an unexpected response.

“I’m going to make a lot of noise and bring her a gift,” Hull said.

He wasn’t kidding.

Hull — who volunteers as an emergency medical technician with the fire department in nearby Grand Gorge, NY, about 150 miles north of New York City — surprised Snediker’s daughter on her birthday with a parade of fire trucks.

“It was absolutely amazing,” Snediker said.

The parade was such a big hit, Hull and his fire department colleagues have gone on to organize at least 25 more events for families who are homebound during the pandemic.

The parades feature at least seven emergency vehicles from the Grand Gorge fleet and come complete with sirens, horns, and “Happy Birthday” playing over the public address system. Hull also made a 4-by-9-foot wooden sign to display the celebrant’s name.

“I know most of the kids in the town anyway, but I just add the details like their age and spelling of their name for the sign,” said Hull, who also uses his own money to buy a small gift for each birthday boy and girl.

In addition to birthdays, Hull has organized parades to recognize high school graduates, Memorial Day honorees and Easter.

He and his fellow volunteer firefighters have led as many as three back-to-back parades in the evenings when they are off the clock from their regular workday schedules.

Before the pandemic, local children often had birthday parties at a roller rink or the Grand Gorge firehouse. Hull — who began his postal career in 1999 and has been a volunteer firefighter for almost three decades — plans to continue the parades “until everything is totally open.”

Snediker said as word of Hull’s efforts has spread, firefighters in surrounding towns have been inspired to do the same for their residents.

“It’s a great idea. Everyone deserves it,” she said.

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.

Net results

Business mailers who use Informed Delivery have a new tool to access detailed reports on the effectiveness of their mail and digital marketing campaigns.

Informed Visibility Mail Tracking and Reporting (IV-MTR) has been updated to provide business mailers with near-real-time marketing data from the Informed Delivery platform’s Post-Campaign Detailed Reports.

The Informed Delivery detailed data captures several metrics — including the date and time of every email sent and opened and “click throughs” associated with each piece delivered — to help business mailers to gauge a marketing campaign’s performance.

IV-MTR now enhances that performance data with near-real-time updates, plus:

• One-time queries of historical data
• Data feeds for automated delivery of reports
• Data sharing with users in the same organization or another business, such as a mail service provider

Business mailers can use this data to quickly evaluate marketing campaigns to, when necessary, make strategic changes that better engage customers who use Informed Delivery.

Informed Delivery, which has more than 28 million users, is a free feature that provides residential and personal PO Box consumers with digital previews of their incoming mail.

The PostalPro website has more information on Informed Visibility, while Blue and LiteBlue have pages devoted to Informed Delivery.

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.

Strictly confidential

Since USPS introduced the Postal Pulse in 2015, the organization has described the employee survey as confidential.

What does this mean?

Here’s what you should know:

The Postal Service doesn’t administer the survey. Although the Postal Pulse is a USPS survey, the organization doesn’t administer it.

Instead, the Postal Service relies on Gallup, one of the world’s best-known research firms, to take the lead.

Non-bargaining employees receive an email from Gallup that contains a link to a secure survey site, while bargaining employees receive the survey at work and at home.

This process is designed to give employees the confidence they need to give honest feedback on the survey without fear of reprisal.

USPS doesn’t keep the completed surveys. Gallup takes the lead here, too.

All completed surveys are sealed and mailed to Gallup, which tabulates the responses and provides the Postal Service with an analysis of the results.

Only Gallup has access to individual responses — and the research firm doesn’t share those responses with USPS.

Again, by making the survey confidential, the Postal Service wants to ensure employees use the survey to offer their candid feedback.

This is the third of five articles on the Postal Pulse employee survey, which is being administered from Aug. 4-Sept. 4. Tomorrow: How USPS uses survey results to make workplace improvements.