Advocating for your business or association and being able to get your message across to your elected officials during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis can be intimidating. Elected officials are literally in the middle of making life saving decisions between public health and economic livelihoods. While the majority of us are sheltering in place and social distancing, there are still many ways in which you can be heard by your elected officials at the local, state and federal levels; and your input is now more important than ever. They were elected to represent and serve you, and they can best do that through your effective advocacy. Below are ways in which you can connect with your elected officials and communicate your message in a way that is clear and makes a lasting impression during this crisis.
Email Your Lawmaker
One of the easiest ways to get in touch with your elected officials is by email. You can usually find elected officials’ emails on your local government’s website or sites such as Open Secrets or your Secretary of State’s website. When writing an email to an elected official, there are many things to keep in mind to make sure your email is effective and well received. Below are some tips on successfully emailing your representatives:
- Put your name and address at the top of your message.
- Humanize your message.
- Be brief.
- Be clear about your position.
- Make your message timely.
- It is okay to disagree, but don’t be abusive or threaten.
- Avoid attachments.
- Don’t spam elected officials or their office.
- Be honest.
- Proofread your email.
These 10 rules are key to writing an effective email that will likely be read and resonate with your officials. They hold true anytime, but especially during the time crunch of a crisis.
Schedule a Virtual Visit with Your Elected Official
During normal times, an in-person visit is the best way to connect with your elected official and to leave a lasting impression. While this is close to impossible during the COVID-19 restrictions, local officials and state and federal lawmakers are making themselves available via virtual platforms for meetings with constituents. Schedule a virtual meeting on a platform such as Zoom, Skype or Google Hangout much like you would an in-person meeting. Lawmakers may have their virtual platform preference or may defer to yours. This is a good way to discuss the concerns and needs of your association, business or industry that are important to you during this critical time. Virtual visits with elected officials must be scheduled with staff, and you must exercise patience, and understand that these officials’ schedules are extremely busy. Also, be respectful of their time when you do get a meeting, try to limit your meeting to 10-30 minutes. After your meeting, be sure to express your gratitude for the time taken to meet with you and let your elected official know you truly appreciate their time and the opportunity to meet with them. A virtual meeting is a great way to stand out among the many emails and letters these officials receive every day.
Prior to your meeting, make sure you have a plan or strategy for what you want to say and how you want to present your information and request. You want to be prepared for any questions or follow-ups that may come from your presentation. Make sure you are knowledgeable and informed on the topic you will be discussing in order to establish credibility and even bring some leave behind materials with printed information such as flyers, petitions, or fact sheets that can be shared via the screenshare or the chat function of the virtual platform. Be sure to also ask your representative’s stance on the issues at hand and their thoughts and ideas; this will help by letting them get involved with the conversation and may shed light on certain aspects of the issue you had not thought of. Be sure to make your ask and wait for an answer; if the elected official’s response is undecided, ask when you may be able to follow up with the official or legislator and their staff for an answer. After your meeting, follow up as you would with an in-person meeting; write a follow up thank you letter and email to the elected official and their staff.
Call Your Legislator
If your time is limited, or it is important for you to get in contact immediately, calling elected officials may be your best option. A phone call could make the difference in the issue or help make progress and move things forward. When you call, remember to be professional, remain courteous and factual. Make sure you establish yourself as a constituent and a voter; this will make your elected official much more receptive. Much like in person or virtual meetings, make sure you plan and strategize your call before making it so you can stay on your message. Also, like with any other contact you may have with an elected official, thank them for their time and for hearing you out.
Whichever communication channel you decide to use, make sure you always give your name, address, and telephone number and your relevancy to the elected officials district or area they represent to drive home the fact you are a constituent and voter. Always remain confident and professional when you are presenting where you stand on an issue especially during this time of crisis. Do not be reluctant to contact your elected officials during this time; they are there to represent you and hear where you stand on issues that are important to you, your association, business or industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your email, virtual meeting, or phone call could be the one to make the difference you’d like to see for your association, business or industry.
For more information or for help with your COVID 19 advocacy and government relations efforts visit our website at www.arc3communications.com or contact Patrick Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org or 678-907-2478.