Tips and Tricks and Promising PracticesPublic Policy and Advocacy Week
Explore the best practices for effective outreach.
Do your homework and know your audience
Look up your representatives to learn about their positions on the issues of interest to you. You can also find your representatives on social media to see what they have accomplished and posted about recently. Create a connection between the issues that are at the forefront of their agenda and those you care about. Know what committees your elected official serves on and what their branch of government can achieve.
Keep in mind that every elected official has a different ability to act on an issue. A State Senator cannot influence a piece of legislation that is in front of the U.S. House of Representatives. It is not possible for a member of the Executive branch to vote for a bill, nor can a member of the Legislative branch veto a bill. If a bill is assigned to committee or sub-committee, then only the officials serving on the committee or subcommittee can vote on the legislation: tailor your ask to reflect the powers that official has.
Email meeting request
Here is a brief template that you can use to request a meeting with an elected official at any level of government. The more specific you are about what you wish to discuss, the more likely the office will want to set up a meeting, so please add more information to the email and include bill numbers or policy details, if applicable. If there is a group of people going to the meeting or if there are any needs for disability accommodations, say so in the email so the office of the representative knows what to expect. And always put your address in the email so the office knows you are a constituent.
Re: [Meeting Request] Meeting to discuss women in STEM
My name is [your name] and I am a constituent of [your representative’s name]. I would like to set up a meeting at [specify which office by city] on [date and time range].
During the meeting, I hope to discuss the importance of women in STEM and the need to fund scientific endeavors. American national security and economic progress is dependent on scientific innovation which requires full utilization of the entire STEM talent pool and adequate funding for scientific institutions and studies.
I look forward to meeting with [your representative’s name] and how this issue is import-ant to our area and some of the steps [your representative’s name] can take to ensure women are able to enter and remain in STEM fields.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns and I would be happy to provide more information.
I look forward to hearing back from you!
[Your name, title/position and home address]
Starting the meeting
- Introduce yourselves to the staff, as well as the elected representative if they are in attendance.
- Make a short statement about your position, your “ask,” your personal story and why you came to meet with them. Be clear what you are asking the person you are meeting with to do.
- Stick to the issues you asked to discuss. Don’t get sidetracked by the elected representative or any staff who are also in attendance. When the conversation inevitably veers off topic, bring it back to the reason you came and don’t be afraid to press a staffer or elected official for a definitive answer or position statement in support or opposition to your ask.
- Ask if the elected official will pose for photo with your group and if all members have given permission to be photographed. Images and quotes from the day should be shared on social media and be sure to tag the elected officials social media accounts to say thank you.
- Thank the elected representative or their staff for meeting with you and for supporting women in STEM.
Emailing or sending physical mail to your elected official
Sending an email or physical letter is just one more way to voice your position to your elected officials. A physical letter is more likely to be read than an email. Keep in mind that snail mail takes time to arrive and be sorted so this is an effective, but much slower process than a phone call or social media campaign. Most offices will not respond or only respond with a form email after a couple weeks, but someone did read it.
You can typically find an email or feedback web-form and the mailing address on the elected official’s website. Sending an email to an actual staffers email is far better than using the website form. If you have trouble finding the best email or physical address, call the office and ask.
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- Tips for making calls
- Tips for holding an effective meeting
- Tips for sending emails and letters