Given the many different methods of communication that are available today and the significant increase in pending legislation in congress, it is a challenge to choose the best method for connecting with policymakers.
During the last ten years, the amount of communications between constituents and Congress has increased dramatically, due primarily due to the Internet.
In determining the best mode of communication to get your message to the right person on Capitol Hill, there is a conventional order of congressional communication that can be followed.
The typical order of congressional communications is as follows:
- Write. Written letter on an organizational or individual’s letterhead.
- Call. Telephone call to a congressional office. Usually used for requesting a personal visit.
- Visit. A personal visit may take place with the policymaker or a staff member.
- Follow-up telephone call or email, made when appropriate.
However, successful advocates utilize a variety of different forms of communication and frequently at the same time.
The most traditional method of communication is the letter. The letter remains important today for a variety of purposes, such as expressing thanks for a meeting or to communicate the official position of an organization. Keep in mind that letters are only effective when time allows them to be so. Screening measures and congressional security can often delay mail delivery. Email can make congressional communications much easier, but there are limits to technology that should be recognized.
If you have a serious concern regarding an issue, it is often best to utilize a variety of methods of communication, such as writing, emailing, calling, and personally contacting the relevant policymaker. You might also consider writing your local newspaper or speaking at a town hall meeting.
When choosing the best method for communication, try and learn individual communication preferences, as different people have different preferences regarding communication types. Some choose to primarily rely on email and may prefer email over a phone call. Other people tend to be somewhat slow in checking their email and thus sending them an email would be least effective.
Learning the communication preferences of relevant policymakers and their staff can help to ensure that your message is received in the shortest amount of time possible.
For more information about communicating with Congress, consider our Capitol Learning Audio Course, Strategies and Tactics That Will Help You Impact Congressional Action.
Reference: Section 8.6 Determining the Best Mode of Communication in Lobbying and Advocacy, by Deanna Gelak.
For more information, see “What’s the deal with contacting my Representative or Senators?” and our FAQ: “How to Contact Congress.”
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