The first thing to remember when writing to politicians is this: send a letter, not an e-mail. More weight is given to letters than to electronic communications simply because they require more effort. Anybody can dash off a quick e-mail without giving it a second thought. But to sit down and type or handwrite a letter, take it to the post office and mail it…well, that requires a pretty strong belief in something.
Secondly, make use of the CC, or Carbon Copy. If you send a letter to your Member of Parliament (MP) and there are 3 or 4 others CC’d on that letter, your MP must forward a copy of your letter to each of those people. Creating a mountain of paperwork can be a very effective method of getting your message across 😀
The suggestions outlined below are courtesy of United Mothers & Fathers. Even though this article is geared specifically towards Canadians, the communication techniques are valid regardless of your country.
How To Most Effectively Communicate With Politicians
I) General Recommendations
1. Express gratitude for his service and other things he or his party has done.
2. Be respectful and courteous. (None of us responds positively to rudeness or sarcasm.)
3. Keep it focused and short. State clearly the one issue you are concerned about.
4. Give him direction. Tell him what action you would like him to take.
5. Remind him you are a voter. Explain that his response to this issue will influence how you vote in the next election.
6. Timing. Get engaged early. Don’t wait for the issue to be at the 3rd reading stage before contacting your representative. By then it is too late.
7. Go for the Gold! As often as possible, use a “Golden” strategy.
II) Specific Strategies
Help them Get Elected.
Encourage men and women of wisdom and integrity to seek political office and help them get elected. Politicians always have a close ear for those who helped them achieve public office.
GOLD (Most Effective)
Face to Face. Speak with your representative personally in his office, or at a public gathering. Be courteous and to the point with your remarks. State what you are concerned about and what action you would like him to take. If a group of you wish to speak with him, keep the group no larger than four individuals.
Short, Legible Handwritten Note. In this age of technology, the handwritten word still holds sway! Simply state what you are concerned about and what action you would like him to take. Provide your name, address, phone number and request a response. Letters to MPs in Ottawa can be mailed postage free to:
(Name), MP / House of Commons / Ottawa, ON / K1A 0A6
Direct Phone Contact. Speak directly to your representative. State your name and that you are a constituent in his riding. Explain what you are concerned about and what action you would like him to take. If he is not in his office, leave your name and phone number and request that he call you. If he does not respond within a few days, call him again until you are able to speak directly to him.
Write a Letter to the Editor of Your Local Paper. The two most popular pages in a newspaper are the front page and the “Letters to the Editor” page. Published letters are a powerful means to inform others about an issue, and influence public opinion.
Speak with Office Staff. Ask the secretary, or personal assistant, to pass along your message directly to your elected representative. Provide your name, phone number, and state that you are a constituent in the riding. Briefly explain what you are concerned about and what action you would like him to take. Request a response.
Short, Personally Written Typed Letter or Email. State that you are a constituent in his riding, then briefly explain what you are concerned about, what action you would like him to take, and request a response. Ensure that you provide your name, phone number, and address. Letters to MPs in Ottawa can be mailed postage free to:
(Name), MP / House of Commons / Ottawa, ON / K1A 0A6
Call after Hours. Leave a message on your representative’s answering machine. Provide your name, phone number, address, and state that you are a constituent in his riding. Briefly explain what you are concerned about, what action you would like him to take, and request a response.
BRONZE (Limited Effectiveness)
The power of bronze level activities lies in informing others about an issue, encouraging others to become involved, mobilizing a community behind an issue, and engaging people who would otherwise never be informed or take action.
While the activities listed at the bronze level are limited in their influence at the federal level, they have the potential to serve as GOLD level activities at the municipal level, and SILVER level activities at the provincial level.
Petition. Ensure that it adheres to legislative specifications. These are available from your representative’s office.
E-mail Form Letter. E-mail technology is an effective means to quickly inform others about an issue and invite them to take action. It also provides an easy way for those who would not otherwise take action to actually become involved in some way. (Our “1 Click” technology, at the website below, allows individuals to compose their own letters to politicians, or modify a form letter, and invite others to become involved.)
Postcards & Form Letters. Provide your name, return address, and add a short hand-written comment to the pre-printed text.