Monday, September 29, 2008

Forming an Advocacy Habit: Know your Legislators!

Whether you're an individual advocate or leading a campaign, it is always a good idea to know a little about the audience receiving your advocacy messages. Elected officials and their staff will respond far more positively to a message that is framed in terms that make sense to them. This means that the message needs to be:
  • Relevant, in terms of a connection to the legislator's district as well as the policy issues in which the legislator is interested
  • Personalized, with a compelling story about why the issue is important to the person writing
  • Specific, i.e., including a very specific action the legislator can take and, of course
  • Trustworthy. This is not the place to guess about impacts or make us numbers (yes, I know it feels like legislators make up numbers all the time, but you shouldn't)

To help develop these particularly powerful messages, it's useful to know something about the specific legislators to whom you'll be writing. Take 10 minutes today to do a little research on your relevant legislators and fill out our Legislator Profile Form. That way, when you have to contact them in a panic about, oh, I don't know, a financial bailout bill, you'll have all the information you need at your fingertips!

Happy advocating!

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