Communication Skills for Advocacy
It is important to remember that in all communications with elected officials and their staff, be sure to introduce yourself, let them know if you are a constituent, provide affiliation information and a mailing address so that your officials can respond to you. The most appropriate strategy may change depending on the timing of the communication: a general rule of thumb is that the shorter the time frame the more acceptable less formal communications become.
Guidelines for Effective Advocacy
- Identify Yourself as a Constituent. Put your name and complete address on both the envelope and the letter. Legislators will only feel compelled to respond to constituent mail, so it’s important to establish immediately that you live in the district.
- Be Brief and Simple. State your purpose and what you want.
- State Your Position. Be specific. State what action you want. If you want to advance a piece of legislation, say so. If you want to know the legislator’s stand on an issue, ask what it is. If you want support on a particular issue, request it.
- Personalize Your Message. Humanize issues by placing them in a local, personal context. Let the legislator know how the issue affects his/her home district.
- Be Polite and Avoid Ultimatums or Rudeness. Everyone responds better to praise than criticism. Threats and ultimatums do little to convince a legislator to adopt your position. In short, remember the Golden Rule–treat the Member as you would like to be treated if you were in his or her shoes.
- Do Not Exaggerate or Lie. Stick to your facts and experiences. Stories or facts fabricated to prove your point only run the risk of undermining your credibility.
- Make Your Message Timely. Don’t procrastinate. Your action is not helpful if it arrives after a vote. Be aware of the legislative process (is the bill in committee or coming up for a vote on the floor) and time your letter accordingly. Faxes can allow you to get your letter to a legislator at critical junctures in the process.
- Inform Your State Association/Coalition. Knowing that you’ve contacted a legislator helps your allies coordinate legislative strategy and additional lobbying. You may have information that is vital to your collective effort.
- Remember the Next Time. Maintain an open and polite relationship with your legislator even when he/she does not agree with your position. You will want his/her support in the future. Be sure to thank them for hearing your concerns. Thank them even more when a legislator does take the course of action that you suggest.
- Keep On. Keep in mind that successful advocacy requires a sustained effort, not simply one letter, email, phone call, or meeting. Success often requires several legislative sessions
2016 Ballot Guide
Ballot Measure Guide 2016 Empower Missouri is actively advocating on certain ballot measures, such as Vote No on #6 regarding voter suppression through photo ID requirements, and is remaining neutral on others.
Legislative Bill Tracking
Click the following document to view this week’s Legislative Bill Tracking information: Empower Missouri bill tracking 5.13.16
More coming soon!
We’re building the next biggest step in change making: an online advocacy training tool. You’ll be able to:
- see video of advocacy in action
- quiz yourself on your change making ability
- select to take your advocacy further
It’s an interactive approach that we think you’ll like. It’ll take some time though, so thanks for your patience.