Our goal is to make it very easy for you to take effective political action. When we promote an action, we do the research, provide links to information, and give you all needed contact information in one easy place. Sometimes we even give you letters you can download, edit, and mail.
Q: What are the most effective ways for me to communicate with an elected official?
- The most effective way is “showing up,” whether it’s by appointment in an office with the elected official or assistant, at a public meeting or other event, or at a press conference. Face time works. And an assistant can be very helpful. This person often has more time than the elected official, and has the ear of the official.
- Phone calls, followed by hardcopy letters, are both effective, especially together in concert. E-mail letters are less effective than hardcopy letters, though many e-mails on the same topic can be effective. Letters you write yourself or prepared letters you have edited to personalize are more effective than simply signing prepared letters. Here are some tips for increasing your effectiveness:
- Do your research and be well-informed when you call or write. Use information you know is important to the official.
- Personal stories can be effective. (e.g. How has the Affordable Care Act impacted your life or family?)
- You might ask to speak with someone who specializes in your topic, such as asking to speak to someone who deals in environmental issues.
- Ask questions. Does the elected official agree with you? What is the official’s reason for a stance or vote? When will the official be available for a town meeting? (Congressional Representative)
- Be polite. You may be frustrated, but you will accomplish more by being civil and firm. Avoid profanity; you do not want your comments used to dismiss your cause. Thank the staff who takes your call.
- At the same time, understand these people work for YOU. YOU provide part of their paycheck. They should be listening to constituents.
- Thank the official for things he or she is doing “right,” in your opinion, especially if you disagree with the official on other issues.
- Contact your official even if you already know your official agrees with you. It is sometimes helpful for your official to be able to say, “I have heard from constituents and……….”
- Amplify your voice by working in concert with others. Show up at a march or rally. Take on the campaigns of others and get others to join you in making a statement. Social media makes this all easy today! Elected officials pay attention when they walk into their office in the morning, and the office staff says 75 people called the day before on a certain topic. Orchestrate this moment.
- Write a letter-to-the-editor of your local paper. And if someone writes a letter you like, write a supportive comment to counteract any “trolling,” and to show others agree with the writer.
- Petitions are effective with corporations or businesses because they fear loss of business from bad PR. Petitions to elected officials, especially internet petitions, as well as most e-mail letters, have minimal effect. Pick up the phone or write instead.