- Hundreds of identical, form-letter emails are easy for lawmakers to ignore
- Unique email messages stand out when a staffer is scanning the inbox, and are much more likely to reach the lawmaker
- Advocates are willing to share personal stories with their representatives
- Organizations can encourage their advocates to send personalized messages to lawmakers by making it easier for them to do so
Lawmakers Listen to Stories from Constituents
If you ask people who work on the Hill about strategies for getting the attention of members of Congress, many of them will say that personalized messages to lawmakers are a tried-and-true tactic. When sifting through a full inbox, emails with the exact same subject line and body will often get grouped together as a single bulk message.
An email with unique content will stand out in the lawmaker’s inbox, which is the first hurdle. If a message that passes that first screening then includes a real story from a constituent that illustrates how they are impacted by policy decisions, it has a much better chance of actually reaching the federal lawmaker.
Sam Morgante, a deputy chief of staff in the House who has served in three freshman offices, said in a recent webinar, “Members are sent here … to represent their districts. It’s vital to know what the impact is on their constituents. Every memo that we send the Congresswoman about a legislative action, whether that is co-sponsoring a bill, co-signing a letter or a vote that she is going to be taking on the floor, we need to tell her what the impact is on her constituents.”
Stories from Advocates Make the Human Factor Concrete
When the consequences of a policy decision are made personal, it’s powerful. Even with local elected officials, who usually screen their own email, there’s a major advantage in sending a true story from a constituent.
Imagine you are a lawmaker and received the following message from a local constituent about the decision to change the flow rates of a local lake:
“Although I am a Pennsylvania resident, Sanibel is our second home. We recently received word that the U.S. Army Corps is considering increasing flows from Lake Okeechobee to the estuaries. My community has been devastated by the ongoing water quality issues associated with the freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee and runoff from the Caloosahatchee watershed.”
Or consider receiving this message as a decsion-maker about the legality of dockless scooters:
“I am a disabled adult. I live three blocks from the Milwaukee Public Market and I cannot walk there because it’s too painful. These scooters allow me to explore more of the city than I could before.”
These are both real examples of messages that advocates sent that made an impact on the decision-makers and the policy outcome.
Help Your Advocates Write Personalized Messages to Lawmakers
With Convo, a new advocacy campaign template, you can break down the work of writing a personal story into smaller steps for your advocates. Combine fill-in-the-blank sentences with multiple choice options and free-writing prompts so that advocates can share their stories without having to start from scratch.
Learn more about Convo here.
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