Tips on Communicating with Members of Congress
What is the best way to connect with my member of Congress?
A personal visit to your Member of Congress’ district office when they are home in Pennsylvania is the best way to make an impact. If you are not able to schedule a time to meet with your representative directly or the issue is urgent and time is short—visits with your Member’s staff can be just as effective.
The next best thing to an in-person visit is a personal letter to your Member of Congress (can be handwritten or typed). Click here for the contact information for Pennsylvania’s Congressional Delegation.
After a personal letter, a telephone call to the district or Washington, DC office is the next most effective means of communication. You can find your Member’s contact information here.
Email messages, especially those that tell your personal story and reasons for supporting a particular piece of legislation or issue, can also be very effective.
Form letters, form e-mails, and petitions also have an impact, but they tend to be less effective because they require less commitment on your part and are not personalized.
What is the best way to craft an effective message?
First, identify yourself and your place of residence. Then briefly describe your reason for wanting to make contact. Also, briefly describe why this is important to you. If some personal experience shaped your view, briefly describe that experience.
Sometimes you will have a specific request, such as support for a particular policy or bill. Sometimes you will have only a general concern, such as the need for everyone to have access to affordable health care. Either kind of message is useful to send.
Ask your member of Congress to describe his/her position on the matter you have brought to his/her attention. Be polite and courteous even if your member does not agree with you.
Be concise. Simple, clear letters, phone calls and e-mails are the best.
Will my message make a difference?
It will be reported to your member of Congress by his/her staff. Some letters and e-mails are passed along for him/her to read. So yes, your message has the potential to make a difference.
If you are a regular voter (and that’s easy for your member of Congress to find out), your messages will be given extra consideration.
For more resources on how to effectively influence your Member of Congress, check out this great toolkit from Families USA.