Elected officials are more frequently preferring electronic communication by e-mails and faxes because mail is taking more time to reach them due to security measures. The best way to communicate often depends on the specific situation we are facing. When we put out an Action Alert, AKTI will try to let you know whether it should be by email, letter, telephone call or any of those methods. We may also ask you to communicate the same letter to both the district and D.C. office of your federal legislators. It is also effective to communicate by email or letter and then follow-up with a copy by fax.
Generally, Members of Congress are far more likely to pay attention if you are one of their constituents.
The same guidelines generally apply whether you are communicating with your state or federal representatives.
PLEASE… if we ask in an Action Alert, send AKTI a copy of your e-mail or letter, or email us that you telephoned and when. Our lobbyists and representatives can make a much stronger case for us if they know how much contact has been made with a certain lawmaker.
To improve the effectiveness of your communication:
- Put your name and address at the top of written communication.
- State your purpose for writing in the first paragraph.
- If your communication refers to a specific legislation, identify it properly (Senate bill: S.___ or House bill: H.R. ___).
- Address only one issue or bill in each communication.
- Keep letters to one page; e-mails to 4 paragraphs and phone calls to 3 minutes.
- If appropriate, include personal information about why the issue matters to you. The lawmaker needs to know that you are constituent, if you are in business, that you represent a certain number of jobs or a certain industry in their district.
- Be courteous, concise, and use examples to support your position, if possible. Be positive and respectful.
Addressing your communication:
- To a Senator:
The Honorable (full name)
(Room #) (Name of) Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 (or local address)
Dear Senator (last name):
Closing: Sincerely, Sincerely yours, Very truly yours,
- To a Representative:
The Honorable (full name)
(Room #) (Name of) House Office Building
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515 (or local address)
Dear Congressman (last name) or Congresswoman (last name) or Dear Representative (last name):
Closing: Sincerely, Sincerely yours, or Very truly yours,
- To a Committee Chair: Dear Mr. Chairman (or Madam Chairwoman:)
- To the Speaker of the House: Dear Mr. Speaker:
Telephoning your congressmen:
- To find your representative’s phone number, use one of the links below in “Finding Elected Officials”
- Individuals calling should not expect to speak directly to their congressmen. You might only be able to speak to the receptionist, but she is required to make a record of your position.
- Telephone calls are handled by a staff member. If possible, ask to speak to the aide who handles the issue you want to make comments about.
- Identify yourself as a constituent (name, city and state).
- Tell the aide you would like to leave a brief message. “Please tell Senator/Representative (last name)
- State whether you support or oppose the bill. Refer to the bill number. Senate legislation start with S. House bills start with H.R.
- State the reasons for your support or opposition.
- Ask for your senator’s or representative’s position on the bill. You may also request a written response to your call.
Personal visits to your congressmen:
Meeting with congressional staff or a Member of Congress is a very effective way to communicate your concerns about a specific legislative bill or issue.
- Plan your visit in advance to know what you want to achieve and determine who to meet with to achieve your purpose.
- Make an appointment by contacting the appointment secretary. Explain who you are and your purpose.
- Be prompt but patient as your congressman or congresswoman has a very busy schedule that is frequently interrupted.
- Be prepared with written materials that includes information and examples that explain your position on the issue or legislation.
- Be political by connecting the issue or legislation to the interests of the congressman or congresswoman’s constituency.
- Be responsive to requests to provide additional information or answer questions.
- Follow-up with a thank you letter outlining key points and any additional information requested.