Be A Big Mouth. And Make It Personal.

Be A Big Mouth. And Make It Personal.

How to get the attention of your representatives

Have a bee in your environmental bonnet and want to talk to your senator about it? Good luck. There’s nothing more effective than a face-to-face meeting. That’s a fact and probably not a surprise to anyone. But for most folks, it just isn’t going to happen.

Regardless, it’s important you try to connect to your representatives. You can make a difference, and they genuinely want to hear from you. There are alternatives. And that’s part of the problem. Because of the explosion in use of email and social mediathe offices of your representatives are at times overwhelmed.

But, have faith, you don’t have to rely on luck if you follow a few guidelines that can increase the probability of having your voice heard on Capitol Hill, in your state capital or in your home town.

Consider these three tips:

1.Be specific and concise

Identify the bill, amendment, or topic of your issue upfront in your communication. Early identification of the topic will allow personnel to more quickly process and reply to your concern. It also demonstrates you have at least a minimal level of knowledge on the topic and are not just making vague comments or complaints.

And make sure you explain what expectation you have of your representative. Whether it be to support a bill or deny an amendment or investigate an issue, for example.

2.Make it local and personal

You’re more likely to get attention if can connect the issue (pass climate bill XYZ),and its impact, to the representative’s own backyard. If not connected to a specific place, then how does the issue relate to people that may be of the representative’s immediate concern? Perhaps the most powerful action would beto explain to your representative how, as one of his/her constituents, the issue impacts YOU.

“My boss rarely acts if there isn’t an impact on his district. Show me a connection as to how your issue directly affects our constituents. Frank discussion about political impact is always appreciated, as are district-specific data.”—House Legislative Assistant

3.Use the right channel

As mentioned in the introduction, what’s better than a face-to-face meeting? Nothing. A townhall is close. But realistically, 99% of us are going to have to use more traditional means to reach our representatives. Of course, you can write a letter and we would never discourage that. With the Climate Action Now app there incredibly easy, effective ways to reach out. But not every channel is as effective as the other.

Call, tweet or email?

Hands down, calling is the best thing you can do. In the app we provide easy-to-follow talking points that you can customize (see tips above). Worried about actually talking to someone? Well, more than likely you’ll end up leaving a voice mail message but that’s okay, advocacy experts still say calling is still most effective.

The next best thing would be to use Twitter. Tweets are public and may spark a dialog. With the app at your fingertips, these actions can happen in seconds with just four touches on your phone. Because calling and tweeting are preferred contact methods, app users will earn more points using those channels.

And there’s always email. It’s easy but often less effective. But we will make email addresses available when possible.




Patrick published his memoir A Green One for Woody in 2013. He is Chief Marketing Officer for Climate Action Now and has held senior management positions with The Interpublic Group, HanesBrands, Inc. and Krispy Kreme. He is married and lives in North Carolina.