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February 4, 2011
Lesley Reed, Publications Manager

Want to influence your member of Congress? Then do it RESULTS-style. A poll of over 250 congressional staff by the Congressional Management Foundation found that in-person meetings, individualized letters and e-mails, and letters to the editor are most likely to influence a member of Congress who has not yet arrived at a firm decision on an issue.

Face-to-face meetings have “a lot of positive influence” according to 46 percent of congressional staff and “some influence” according to 51 percent of staffers. Eighty percent of staffers said letters to the editor have some or a lot of influence, and 90 percent of staffers said individualized letters have some or a lot of influence.

While individualized e-mail messages carry almost as much weight as handwritten letters, form e-mails are not nearly as well received (only 1 percent of staffers said that form e-mails or letters have a lot of influence). Similarly, while congressional offices find social media applications useful to understand the views of constituents and to share their own, comments made in places like Facebook and Twitter have little influence on members of Congress.

The survey’s take away message: quality content coming directly from constituents makes the biggest difference. What do members of Congress and their staff want to hear about? Your reason for supporting or opposing a bill or issue; specific information about a bill’s impact on your district or state; and a personal story related to the issue.

With the growth of Internet communications, “Congressional offices are overwhelmed by the significant increase in volume and the diversity of delivery methods used by advocate organizations,” according to the Congressional Management Foundation’s report “Communicating with Congress: Perceptions of Citizen Advocacy on Capitol Hill.” That’s why advocacy RESULTS-style is more important now than ever.

So keep writing those excellent letters to your members of Congress and newspapers, and make those requests to get your meeting with your member of Congress!

Read the report: “Communicating with Congress: Perceptions of Citizen Advocacy on Capitol Hill”

 

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