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Communicating With Your Policymakers

There are many options available for communicating with policymakers: email; letters;
telephone calls; and tweets. As new issues arise, NCWE often provides sample scripts
to support your advocacy efforts.

No matter what communication tools you use, know the issues and be concise. If you are
writing about a particular bill, cite it by name and number. Try not to use acronyms
or, if you do, spell them out the first time.

♦ Writing a Letter or Sending a Fax
♦ E-Mailing
♦ Sending Tweets
♦ Calling

Writing Letters or Sending a Fax
Use Appropriate Address and Salutation
Use the correct title, address and salutation and spell each correctly. The following forms of address and salutation are recommended for Members of Congress. (It is not necessary to include the room number or street address when writing to your Members of Congress.)

For a Senator:
   The Honorable (insert full name)
   United States Senate
   Washington, DC 20510

   Dear Senator (insert last name):

For a Representative:
   The Honorable (insert full name)
   U. S. House of Representatives
   Washington, DC 20515

   Dear Representative (insert last name):

Be Specific
State the action you want the policymaker to take, such as: • Vote in a certain manner • Introduce legislation • Co-sponsor a bill • Make a floor statement for or against a particular bill.

Policymakers and staff have limited time; they are likely to read no more than a 1-2 page document. Use statistics showing how many constituents are affected by the policy or program, and what impact it will have on your college, local community, and, if appropriate, the nation.

If you believe a bill is wrong and should be opposed, say so. Explain why, and suggest a better approach. If the policymaker has expressed support for your position, hold him or her to that commitment and ask if they need any additional information from you.

Be Positive
Policymakers, like most of us, respond better to praise than criticism. Tell them you supported them in the past (if you did) and how you need their help. Acknowledge their previous support on this or other issues.

Ask for a Reply
When they reply – and they usually will – write again. Compliment positive actions taken or encourage reconsideration of negative actions or those not taken.

When elected officials disagree with your position, the response may include such language as "careful study,” "due consideration,” or "keeping your comments in mind.” These are often negative indicators and do not show commitment. Write back for clarification. Doing so lets them know that you are serious about the issue and are following their actions carefully.


E-mailing
E-mail may not have the same visual effect as a pile of letters or a jammed fax machine, but its speed is unmatched.

Summarize Your Views in the Subject Line
Make it short and efficient. For example: "YES ON S. 2.” Staffers will always see the subject line in their e-mail windows.

Keep Content Short
Limit your message to a few paragraphs. E-mail is designed for quick messages, not lengthy discussion. Use bulleted points, as in a fact sheet. Otherwise, the same rules hold true as with letters.


Sending Tweets
Social media is a quick and effective way of communicating with policymakers and staffers, and making your views known publically. If the message is right, they may re-tweet your message to their contacts. One NCWE tweet to a U.S. Representative was re-sent by a staffer to 72,000 other individuals!

  • If you want your tweet made public, put a period (.) in front of the policymakers’ Twitter name.
  • If you want your tweet to be private, do not include the period.

NCWE may develop sample tweets when issues important to workforce education and economic development arise. Additionally, the Campaign to Invest in America's Workers and the National Skills Coalition are two good resources to check for sample tweets.


Calling
If you want to make an immediate impact on an issue, use the phone.

Once connected to the office, ask to speak to the staff member who handles education or workforce development issues. (Local elected officials may not have a staff member to field calls and may answer directly.) After you have identified yourself, state why you are calling; keep your remarks short and focused. Offer to serve as a resource and send additional information. Finally, remember to say "Thank you for taking my call and considering my views” – even if they disagree with you.

Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard to find your elected official’s phone number: 202-224-3121, for both the House and Senate.


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