Tips for Communication
Below are some tips to help you communicate with public officials. Your elected leaders want to hear from you on issues that impact your business. The MRCC encourages its members to engage in the policymaking process and influence decisions that impact your community. This information, along with a directory of elected officials in the region (both federal, state and local levels), can be found in your 2011 Membership Directory.
Correspondence via Letters and Emails
Letters or e-mails sent to public officials should be as clear and concise as possible. Below are some simple tips to make your correspondence more effective:
- Keep it short. Try to limit your letter to one page and emails to several paragraphs. If you feel additional information should be provided, schedule an appointment to meet with that public official.
- Use appropriate address and salutation. Updated contact information for public officials can be found on this website or in your 2011 Membership Directory. A simple internet search can also be useful, but be careful of candidate websites versus official government websites.
- Be positive and constructive. Public officials want to hear feedback from their constituents. But like most of us, they respond better to praise and constructive criticism. If possible, explain how their leadership helped on a different issue and that you need that leadership again on your issue.
- Personalize your communication. Identify yourself, company and your experience on the matter at hand. Communicate how a policy proposal could impact your business. Use relevant comparisons and examples to strengthen your argument.
- Remember you are a resource. As a business professional, you are an expert in your field and industry. Offer to provide additional information regarding your field, the issue and how it will impact your business.
Calling Public Officials
Many of the same letter/email writing tips apply when you are calling a public official. A telephone call an make an immediate impact on a policy decision. However, don’t get discouraged if you are unable to speak directly to the public official. Leaving a message or voicemail can be just as influential. Here are some additional tips when making a phone call:
- Ask to speak with a policy aide or appropriate staffer. If a public official is not available, ask to speak with a staff member who handles the particular subject area. Local officials may not have this level of staffing.
- Keep your comments short and concise. After identifying yourself and the reason for your call, keep your comments short and focused on the topic. Try to limit your conversation to one topic. Remember to be polite, constructive and helpful.
- Remember to say “thank you”. The outcome of your conversation may not be what you want; the goal is to provide them your prospective. Always remember to thank them for their time and offer to be a resource in the future.
- Be prepared to leave a message. While you can leave a message with an office assistant, a personal message on a voicemail can be more impactful. Make sure you indicate the issue, reference bill number (when appropriate), quickly state your position and rationale, and provide contact information.