Making Your Communication More Effective
Never underestimate the power of a constituent’s contact! Letters and phone calls expressing a given viewpoint can change a policymaker’s mind and are particularly helpful when that official is wavering on an issue.
Personalized communication from constituents is the most effective at all levels. However, due to contamination threats, mail service on Capitol Building continues to be unpredictable. As such, it is best to communicate by fax or e-mail when reaching out to your federal policymakers.
Letters/ Emails to Legislators
It is important that letters or e-mail be as simple and clear as possible. To make your communication more effective:
- Keep it short. Limit your letter to one or two pages. E-mail is designed for quick messages, not lengthy discussion so it’s best to use bulleted points. You can use the Letter/ Email Template as your guide.
- Use appropriate address and salutation. Use the correct title, address and salutation and spell each correctly. To find the contact information of your Legislator, please visit the Colorado Legislative Directory. The following forms of address and salutation are recommended for correspondence:
The Honorable (insert full name)
200 East Colfax Avenue
Denver, CO 80203
Dear (Senator or Representative) (insert last name):
- Be positive. Policymakers, like most of us, respond best to praise, not criticism. Tell them you supported them in the past (if you did) and how you need their help. It is extremely important to acknowledge their previous support on this or other issues.
- Ask for a reply. When they do reply – and they usually will – write again. Compliment positive actions taken or encourage reconsideration of negative actions or those not taken. When a public official differs from your position, his or her response may include such language as “careful study,” “due consideration,” or “keeping your comments in mind.” These are often negative indicators and do not show commitment. Write back for clarification. Doing so lets the policymaker know that you are serious about the issue and are following his or her actions carefully.
- Establish yourself as a resource. You are an expert in your field and can offer to provide additional information regarding the field, the issue, and the impact of proposed legislation.
If you want to make an immediate impact on an issue, use the phone. Staff and policymakers can’t avoid getting the message from a constantly ringing phone as the time of a decision on a major issue approaches. Hours of steady rings have been known to change the response from “thank you for calling” to “the Member of Congress is definitely backing the proposal.”
- To find the contact information of your Legislator, please visit the Colorado Legislative Directory.
- Once connected to the office, ask to speak to the staff member who handles education or workforce development issues (depending on what program you are calling about). Local officials may not have a staff member to field calls and may answer directly, but high-ranking public officials rarely take calls directly until you get to know them.
- After you have identified yourself, tell the staff member the reason you are calling—remember to keep your remarks short and focused.
- Use the Legislative Call Script as your guide.
- Remember to say “Thank you for taking my call and considering my views” – even if they disagree with you.
Thank you to the Association for Career and Technical Education for the advocacy tips.