Dear Friend

The stiffness of Andrew Cuomo’s communication efforts is surprising because with owned media channels it’s so easy to fake warmth, and the basic ingredients of successful email campaigns are no longer a great secret.

Andrew Cuomo CommitteeFirst of all, send email from a human being. I keep getting email from “Andrew Cuomo Committee” even when the email is signed by Andrew Cuomo.

Second, learn my name. I told you my name when I signed up for email updates, remember? So why do you always address me as “Dear Friend.”

Third, write a subject line that piques my interest. You don’t have to go all Upworthy, but here are the subjects of 40% of Cuomo emails so far this year: Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Happy Passover, Happy Easter, Happy Mother’s Day. The open rate on those must have been astronomical!

Fourth, try just a little bit to tell me something I don’t already know. “During Passover, the story is told of the Jewish people’s freedom from slavery and oppression” sounds like you looked up “Jew” in Wikipedia. Have you really lived in New York your whole life and have no anecdote to share about seder?

Cuomo email blasts 2014:

Andrew Cuomo Committee Building on Success Dear Friend 3rd person account of Cuomo’s state of the state address
Governor Andrew Cuomo Celebrating the Life of Dr. King Dear Friend Tribute to MLK, values of New York; signed Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo Committee Happy St. Patrick’s Day Dear Friend Irish Americans are awesome; signed Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo 2014 Cutting Taxes, Creating Jobs Dear Friend 3rd person account of budget
Andrew Cuomo Committee Happy Passover Dear Fellow New Yorker “During Passover, the story is told of the Jewish people’s freedom from slavery and oppression.” signed Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo Committee Happy Easter Dear Friends “This year, Easter coincides with the first signs of spring after a very long winter,” signed Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo Committee Happy Mother’s Day Dear Friend Shout out to Matilda Raffa Cuomo, signed Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Exciting News Dear Friend Announcing Hochul as LG, signed Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Together Dear Friends Long-ish statement of accomplishment on being nominated for 2nd term, signed Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo Committtee Honor the Memory Dear Friends “… greatest sacrifice … forever grateful … thoughts and prayers … “ signed Andrew Cuomo

Republican Rob Astorino also sends me messages from “Astorino for Governor” (switched from “Friends of Rob Astorino”) when the message is meta-campaign: news clippings, preview “major announcement”, event invitation. That’s appropriate, though still sub-optimal: I should get those emails from his campaign manager, or someone else whose name I’ll learn to recognize during the course of the campaign.

When the note is from the candidate himself, it’s always from “Rob Astorino” and addressed simply “Jeremy.” If I didn’t know better, I’d think Rob actually cared about me — which is precisely the point of these things.

Take Mother’s Day, for example, a softball gift-wrapped for any politician. Cuomo’s note sounded as though he was speaking only to men who had appreciated women behind a one-way mirror. He pivoted awkwardly from mothers to all women, so as not to lose the spinster vote. And he praised his mother in a strangely impersonal way (“My mother, Matilda Raffa Cuomo, is one of those women”).

Astorino’s team, on the other hand, hit this one out of the park. I got a message from Sheila Astorino (“Happy Mother’s Day … to me!”). It was sarcastic, charming, genuine, and included a photo of the perfect Astorino family huddled on a perfect lawn.

Luckily for Democrats, email campaigns don’t win or lose elections, but it still depresses me that Andrew Cuomo Committee is failing at something so easy.