Contacting your elected officials is a great way to make your voice heard. Your elected officials represent you, so they need to hear what you have to say.
When contacting your legislators, there are a few things you should keep in mind for any form of contact. Remember to be specific, respectful, and clear. Plan what you are going to say, voice your position, ask for support, and suggest an action you want them to take. Here are more tips when it comes to contacting your legislators.
Calling Your Legislators
Calling your legislators may be the most effective tactic. Some key things to keep in mind when planning your phone call include:
- Know who you're calling. Which district or city you live in will determine which legislator represents you and who you should contact. Be sure to know the name and contact information of your legislators.
- Know what you're calling about. You'll want to know the bill number you're speaking about so that you're precise and specific when asking your legislator to act on it.
- Be professional. Speaking with legislators and their staff in a professional, courteous, and factual manner will establish credibility and allow you to communicate your position clearly.
- Say thank you. Thank the person you speak with and leave your information such as a phone number or email in case they'd like to follow up with you. Elected officials and their staff hear complaints all day, every day, and ending your phone call with a thank you will make them feel appreciated and make your phone call memorable.
Writing Your Legislators
Writing your legislators is an effective way to express your position on a specific issue. When legislators receive continuous written communication on certain bills or issues, it makes a big impression. Keep in mind that calling may be the better option in times of urgency to ensure your comment is heard in time for a crucial vote. Key things to keep in mind when writing your elected officials include:
- Make it short and sweet. Remember that elected officials receive multiple correspondences about every issue, especially hot topics, and keeping it short and to the point may be the best way to get your position across quickly and efficiently.
- Make it personal. If you've got a story to tell, tell it! Making things personal in your letter may be more engaging and compelling to your legislator. Tell your elected officials how a decision on a certain issue or bill may affect you, your family, and your friends.
- Suggest action. Be sure to ask for support from your legislator and suggest a clear and concise action you'd like them to take on the bill or issue.
Meeting With Your Legislators
Meeting your elected officials is a great way to establish a relationship and effectively communicate the personal reasons you advocate for a certain position on an issue or bill. Some tips for meeting with your legislators include:
- To schedule a meeting you can write, email or call.
- Be flexible, but firm. Allow time for your legislators to respond to your request for a meeting. Depending on the time of year, they could be busy, but it's still their job to respond to you. If you haven't heard anything back in a while, don't be afraid to reach out again.
- Prepare. It's important to establish what your strategy is for meeting with your legislator. What action are you wanting them to take? What position do you want them to support? Go into the meeting with an idea of what you plan to get out of it, make sure to do your research on the issues and the legislator's current position, and try to build a personal relationship.
- Follow up. After the meeting, send a thank-you letter or follow-up email to reinforce what you talked about and remind your elected officials about the conversation you had.