Dos and Don’ts for Communicating with Elected Officials
Before making contact, learn key background information. Visit their official website. Be sure to know if they are part of the Afterschool Caucus and how they have voted on education and youth development issues in the past.
When you call, email or meet in person, tell the official why you are there and what you want. Your interaction might only last a few minutes. Be sure to mention you are a constituent.
Establish yourself as an expert information source
Elected officials have limited time and staff and many competing issues to consider. You can fill their information gap and become their “expert.”
Bring informational materials
Leave your elected official with a one-page fact sheet about your program and any other materials that describe your program’s benefits for youth and families in your community.
Follow up after a meeting
Send a personal thank you note to the official and staff for their time. If you promised information, be sure to send it as soon as possible.
Think you must know everything
It is okay to admit you do not know something. Instead, let them know that you will find out the information and get back to them.
Work to find some sort of consensus and always leave on positive terms.
Forget elected officials work for you.
You should be courteous but not intimidated.