Tips for Calling a Congressional Office
Do not expect to be able to personally speak to Senator/Representative.
Ask to speak with the Legislative Assistant responsible for the issue.
Be prepared. Before calling, have your message written in front of you and review it carefully…so you know exactly what you want to say.
Identify yourself as a constituent (include title/position).
State purpose of your call, and keep the message simple and concise.
Be courteous. Congressional staff work long hours - 10 to 12 hour days are not uncommon - and have many demands and pressures on their time.
Thank the staffer for taking your call and let him/her know you will follow-up.
Tips on Writing a Letter to a Member of Congress
Be Direct…state purpose of writing (e.g. name/number of bill).
Be Informative…identify yourself as a constituent (title, university).
Be Constructive…offer recommendations (don't blame, accuse, threaten).
Be Political…explain how issue effects the district/state/country.
Be Discriminating…stick to one issue per letter (avoid "laundry list").
Be Inquiring…ask how the Member stands on the issue.
Be Available…let him/her know that you are available for follow-up.
Be Appreciative…thank Member for considering your concerns/request.
The Key Elements of A Successful Hill Visit
Introduce yourself and state purpose of visit
Explain issue in terms of district/local needs
Use personal stories/examples (data/statistics)
Explain what you want member to do (request)
Ask for legislator's support (gain commitment)
Express appreciation (thank you for meeting)
(Remember: Be prepared, be on time and be concise)
Tips for Meeting with Congressional Members/Staff
Present message in clear, concise, and understandable terms.
Give examples from your Community, District, State.
Be brief and stick to the subject of the meeting.
Press firmly for support…or serious consideration.
Inform the Congressman/Staffer how you will follow-up. Express appreciation; thank Member/Staffer for the visit.
DON’T underestimate the importance of Congressional Staff.
DON’T be surprised if you are asked to address another issue or concern to Member…be flexible.
DON’T expect scientific conclusions to convince legislators.
DON’T forget…you’re the expert (and the voter).
Five Things Legislators Want to Know
- Important local needs
- Personal stories and examples
- How federal money is spent in district
(benefits to community)
- How you might represent more votes
(position in community)
- How specific legislation will affect you
Tips for Follow-Up After Your Hill Visit
Write a follow-up letter to the Member and/or staffer(s) with whom you met and thank them for the visit. Reiterate the points you covered in the meeting.
Continue contact with the Member and/or staffer(s) with whom you met. When possible, send additional information that would be useful to them.
If appropriate, arrange to have your Representative or Senator visit your program or research facility.
Encourage your colleagues to become more involved in education advocacy.
Keep informed on issues of importance to you by joining the APA Public Policy Education Grassroots Network.