Published Nov 15, 2016 Updated Feb 28, 2020, 8:39 pm CST
It can be difficult to get the attention of your political representative, they are generally extremely busy people and usually have little time to lurk on social media. So, understanding what methods of engagement and communication avenues that work most effectively can be the key to making sure your concern or message is delivered loud and clear.
Emily Ellsworth, a former Congressional staffer, took to Twitter recently to help provide a little constructive guidance. The advice has proved such a hit that she followed up her thread with a FAQ video.
[Placeholder for https://www.facebook.com/emilyellsworth/posts/2157260391165658 embed.]
It rarely gets as concise as a tweet, but here are some of Emily’s best points to takeaway.
1) Don’t expect to be heard on social media. Other than fellow constituents, the only people who really are paying attention to Facebook and Twitter feeds are staffers who are more interested in rooting out abusive comments than forwarding your issue.
2) Snail mail beats email.There are pros and cons to each of these communication mediums. An email is quick and efficient, while a letter can take days or even weeks to come back. A hardcopy letter in the hands of an official will be read more closely than an on-screen email, which is generally scanned, according to Ellsworth.
3) Going local can be as effective as going to the top.Ellsworth recommends writing to your district office instead of contacting Washington. It might feel better appealing to the higher power, but being heard in the political vortex is next to impossible. Local issues are best heard at a local level.
4) Pick up the damn phone. Nothing is as direct as calling your representative’s office. A call can’t be ignored like an email or letter can. Staffers keep track of any emergent trends or patterns in subject matter, and a coordinated call campaign will get your cause noticed.
5) Show up. Direct participation is key to bypassing all the bureaucracy, and the best chance to be heard is at a local forum attended by local people with the same concerns as you. Town hall meetings are traditionally the place for this where your representative can meet constituents face-to-face.
I worked for Congress for 6 years, and here's what I learned about how they listen to constituents.