Legislative Advocacy
Communicating with lawmakers Red Bullet Get to know your legislator
Red Bullet Understand your legislator's viewpoint Red Bullet Understanding the political
process Red Bullet Action Agenda: Influencing the legislative process Red Bullet How an
idea becomes law Red Bullet Communicating with your legislator Red Bullet Advocacy
over the phone Red Bullet Action Agenda: Calling your legislator Red Bullet Telephone
tips Red Bullet Tips on visiting Red Bullet Action Agenda: Meeting with your legislator

Communicating with lawmakers
   Seeking the advice and support of policymakers and elected officials is an important part of advocating for children. The best way to do this is establishing relationships, a cornerstone for effective advocacy.
   Here are some guidelines for communicating effectively with legislators:
  • Your word is your bond. Do not ever promise something you cannot deliver. Credibility is what you bring to a relationship with any public official.
  • Talk in terms they understand. Avoid acronyms, abbreviations, or "buzz words" that are not easily understood by someone unfamiliar with your issue.
  • Organize your presentation. Prepare an outline of your talking points in advance. Focus directly on the issues you want to cover. Be brief and to the point. Legislators are busy and appreciate concise, well-organized discussions.
  • Position papers should be short and concise. If at all possible, cover your issue in one page. Short bullets or paragraphs are effective. Also, using a different color paper helps identify you or your organization with your issue. Always have your name, address and telephone number on any position paper so they can follow up.
  • Be informed. Never promote a position without first studying the facts and the arguments on both sides.
  • Do not underestimate elected officials and policymakers. With rare exceptions, they are honest, intelligent, hard working, and want to do the right thing. Your job is to inform them about your issue and position.
  • Treat them as you would like to be treated. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to understand their outlook and goals. This will help you better communicate your point.
  • Be helpful. Do not let your first contact be when you want something. Invite lawmakers to be guests at meetings.Keep in touch with them throughout the year.

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