Communicating with Legislators (download as powerpoint)

Report
BURTON-LIESE
GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
BUILDING A FRIENDSHIP
KNOW YOUR LEGISLATOR POLITICALLY:
 When the Legislator was first elected
 Other offices they held
 Their occupation
 What committees they are members of
 What is their relationship with your issues
 Political ambitions
 Their main supporters
 Political allies
BUILDING A FRIENDSHIP (CON’T)
KNOW YOUR LEGISLATOR PERSONALLY WHERE APPROPRIATE:
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Family/Friends
Church
Community
Hobbies
Education/Occupation
NOTE:
It is important to develop a friendship with your legislator.
One of the easiest ways to limit your effectiveness is to
become too issue orientated. Don’t communicate only when
you “want something” or to discuss your issue. Build a
personal relationship and talk about things of mutual interest
or other issues that the legislator has. But most of all build
your friendship on TRUST and CONFIDENCE
Guidelines for communication
 Be prepared:
 Do your homework and know exactly what you are going to discuss
and what points you want to cover
 Establish a common ground:
 Begin by reinforcing a mutual interest or issue. Thank him/her for
a past vote that helped your area; or refer to a common interest;
acquaintance or activity in your area. Take advantage of any
commonality that reinforces agreement. Be Sincere!!!!
 Be Concise, specific and clear:
 Stick to the issue at hand and give necessary details. Provide
complete information on specific actions or issues
 Be Reasonable:
 Do not over state your case. Factual, informative opinions far
outweigh emotional appeals. Ultimatums or arguments are never
effective. Do not make commitments involving donations.
Personal commitments or assurances that you will consider his/her
comments, are appropriate
Guidelines for communication (con’t)
 Localize the issue:
 When legislators are in Jeff City they can, on occasion, loose sight of how a bill
affects their district. You can help explain how a bill will affect you and other
voting members in their district
 Don’t change your opinion:
 When you discuss legislation with a legislator who does not share your
views, they will attempt to persuade you to change your opinion. Be
careful and maintain your position. If you are confused, you may need to
obtain clarification or information on a bill and get back with them
 Provide written material (if available):
 Evidence of support or success strengthens any issue- provide solutions if
available.
 Say “Thank You”:
 Even if it is only for their time
 Follow-up:
 Write a thank you letter, restating your position and thank them for any support
they offer
 Tell a colleague:
 When you are finished with your discussion, ask a colleague, who shares your
opinion, to contact the legislator. It shows support back home.
CALLING YOUR LEGISLATOR
Know when to call:
 Legislators have busy schedules- committee hearings, floor debate,
campaign events and meetings all seem to occur at the same time you want
to contact them-they do!! During session, legislators are in Jeff City from
Monday afternoon until Thur. afternoon. The best times to call are
between 8am-10, noon to 2, 5-7pm. These times coincide with breaks in
session and are good opportunities to catch them. Their offices are staffed
Monday to Thursday 8:30 – 5pm
Ask to speak to your legislator, personally:
 Legislators are elected to represent you. When you call, ask to speak with
them personally. If your legislator is not available, leave a message letting
them know you are calling about and ask them to return your call.
Know what to say:
 Before you call, make sure you are comfortable with your knowledge
of the bill/issue. It is important that you are able to deliver your
message and substantiate it with facts. Not opinions!! Explain your
organizations position on a particular bill in detail. Your legislator
will probably ask questions, so be prepared. Understanding the
oppositions positions is helpful in order to discuss their
shortcomings
CALLING YOUR LEGISLATOR (CON’T)
BE CONSIDERATE OF THEIR TIME:
 If they must excuse themselves during your conversation, ask when
you can call back
ASK THEM TO KEEP YOU INFORMED:
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When you finish your call, ask them to keep you informed on the
progress of the legislation you discussed. Tell them you are
interested in how the committees/floor voted, and any
amendments or substitutions that change the bill. Your interest will
help make your phone call effective, Thank them for their time,
even if they oppose your position on bill, it is quite possible that
they support your position on other bills
WRITING EFFECTIVE LETTERS
USE YOUR PERSONAL STATIONARY:
 This helps the legislator remember you, and studies show that
personal letters are more effective than letters form organizations or
copied letters. Handwritten letters are perfectly acceptable. The
first paragraph should state who you are and why you are writing,
Make sure you provide a return address and/or phone number if it is
not printed on stationary.
BE SPECIFIC:
 Stick to the issue at hand. Writing about more than one issue only
distracts the reader from your topic. A one-page letter is good
enough and is strongly encouraged. If it is longer, you run the risk
of it not being read thoroughly. When you state your position,
support it with facts. Merely saying you oppose/support a bill
without providing facts will not sway votes.
ASK FOR A RESPONSE:
 In your letter, ask your legislator to respond. Having them contact
you keeps the communication flowing.
MEETING IN DISTRICT
SCHEDULE IN ADVANCE:
 This allows you and the legislator the opportunity to discuss issues
and or visit your facility without interruption. During session (Jan
to May), schedule meetings regarding legislation from Thursday
afternoon through Monday before noon. Schedule visits to your
area from June through Dec.
BE PREPARED:
 After you have scheduled your meeting, begin to prepare. Unlike
calls and letters, a personal visit gives you the opportunity to
communicate face-to-face. A personal visit from your legislator to
your organization establishes a visual base from where your ideas
and opinions are coming. It provides an opportunity to explain
legislation what he/she has helped implement or effects of
legislation. You will also have the opportunity to introduce your
legislator to important people to your organization and programs
that are effected or any accomplishments, and show them how
funds or legislation have assisted your area. This experience gives
you and the legislator a chance to build a relationship for the future.
FOLLOW-UP
FOLLOW-UP IS A CRUCIAL PART OF A MEETING
 The purpose of the meeting is to enhance a mutual
understanding between you and your legislator.
Following up after a meeting is a way to address any
unanswered questions, obtain or provide additional
information, etc. Below are additional suggestions:
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Always write a “Thank You” note- list key points, extend and
open invitation for a return visit, and compliment any of
his/her staff who helped coordinate the visit
Share photographs
Publicity- provide copies of any news articles, media coverage,
or any other publicity on the event
Stay In Touch!!!!!
GUIDELINES FOR COMMUNICATION
 Be prepared
 Establish a common ground
 Be concise, specific and clear
 Be reasonable
 Localize the issue
 Don’t change your opinion
 Provide written materials (if available)
 Say “THANK YOU”
 Follow-up
 Tell a colleague to contact legislator

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