Tips for Effective Messages
Elected officials do pay attention to email from constituents - they really do. And to prove it, the Congressional Management Foundation surveyed Members of Congress and their staff.
Elected officials do pay attention to email from constituents - they really do. And to prove it, the Congressional Management Foundation surveyed Members of Congress and their staff. Here's what they found, along with tips you can put to use right away.
TIP #1: PERSONALIZED MESSAGES ARE 10 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO HAVE A LOT OF INFLUENCE
Don't just cut and paste the message points—take an extra 30 seconds to let them know why youth issues are important to you in particular!
Senior congressional staff were asked: If your Member/Senator has not already arrived at a firm decision on an issues, how much influence might the following advocacy strategies directed to the Washington office have on his/her decison?
Source: Congressional Management Foundation. Communicating with Congress: How Capitol Hill is Coping with the Surge in Citizen Advocacy.
EXAMPLE: "My name is [John Doe] and I'm a [student; parent; grandparent; teacher; youthworker; business owner; etc]. Child and youth issues are important to me because [I see my friends struggle; I am doing the best I can and wish more people would help; we need to invest in the future; etc.]"
TIP #2: GIVE THE BILL NUMBER AND HOW YOU WANT THEM TO VOTE
Don't force staff to read between the lines to know what you want them to do.
EXAMPLE: "I urge you to support [H.R.1234]."
TIP #3: KEEP MESSAGES SHORT
Congressional staff are very busy! Always be courteous and make your point clearly.
TIP #4: TELL THEM SOMETHING NEW
Let them know how this impacts you and their district in particular.
EXAMPLE: "It is important for you to understand how this affects your district. [I can't find anything fun and safe to do after school; Two schools have closed in your district this year; the crime rate has gone up; there is a great afterschool program but it needs more funding; etc.]"
TIP #5: PERSONALIZE
Did you vote for this elected official? Did you contribute time or money to his or her campaign? Do you have a business or personal relationship? If so, include that (briefly) in your note - it can help.
Something to add? Join the conversation! Share your tips in the Comment section below.