Top Ten Tips for Emailing Legislators

top-10-tipsEight days are left in the 2014 legislative session and legislators are getting swamped. Here are a few tips to help your voice be heard as you contact your legislators.

1. Make your subject line as descriptive as possible. “Vote NO” is not actually descriptive. “Please vote yes on HB105, the plant extract bill” is better. 🙂

2. In addition to the bill number, include either the title or a description of the bill. With hundreds of bills to track, it’s hard to identify them by just a number.

3. Identify yourself at the beginning of the email/letter – Name, address (including city), phone right at the top. If you are a constituent, please note that.

4. Don’t mass email. Take the time to send a personalized letter to each Senator/Representative. It does not take that much extra time.

5. Please take the time to find out just a little about who you are emailing. Mistakes happen, but calling a female legislator “Him” or calling a Senator “Representative” or vice-versa make legislators think that you’re probably just mass-emailing everyone.

6. Remember the adage about winning friends and influencing people. Or maybe the one about looking for a win/win. Ripping on a legislator for 4 paragraphs and then demanding they vote the way you want them to is not usually a winning argument.

7. Your issue is important to you and your legislators want to hear about it. Really. They do. They are also hearing from hundreds of others who have important issues too. Be patient but persistent. (That does not mean spam them, by the way.)

8. If they vote differently than you would like them to, it does not mean they haven’t listened. Go back to tip #6.

9. For face-to-face time, come to the Hill anytime during the session and send in a note letting your legislator know that you, a constituent, would like to speak to them. Showing up carries a lot of weight.

10. It’s difficult to build a relationship during the legislative session, especially during the last 9 days. Work on building that relationship with your legislator during the rest of the year.

11.  Bonus Tip: Remember that your emails are subject to GRAMA and may end up on the transparency website. Don’t write what you don’t want to read on the front page of the Salt Lake Tribune.

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