Email messages that are essentially form letters sent in response to action alerts are an important show of strength and sheer numbers. To really get your message across, however, there's no substitute for your personal voice. Email is a fast and easy way to contact your representatives, but there are some guidelines to follow if you want your message to count. Some legislators receive so much email that is difficult for the staff to manage. And the informal style most of us use when writing email messages is not well suited to lobbying. Generally, a fax makes a better impression, and phone calls are also effective.
But you know yourself! If the only way you can get this done is through email, go for it. It's more important to get your message out than to wait until you have the time to compose a letter or make a phone call during business hours - especially if you know that time will never come! Just keep the following tips in mind:
- Use the formality of a letter rather than the informality typical of email. Always put your best foot forward when lobbying.
- Identify yourself as a constituent. Legislators pay attention to their constituents. Email can come from anywhere, so be sure to identify yourself as a constituent by including the street and city where you live.
- Include your mailing address. Generally, representatives like to respond to email from their constituents, but they are likely to do so by post rather than by email.
- Include the bill number in the body of your message whenever you can. You might also want to identify your topic in the subject line. Your subject might say, for example, "Support Women's Health, S. 2996."
- Always be courteous. It goes without saying, of course, but some of us do get a little hot under the collar when writing about issues we feel so strongly about. Keep in mind that your message will be better received if you can make your points firmly but politely.