Advocacy Information

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

First…The Do’s

  • Be positive.

  • 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.

Now…the Don’ts

  • 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
    (illuminating statistics/data)
  • 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.