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Legislative Advocacy 101: Writing Letters to Elected Officials

Keep them Brief, Focused, Personal and Professional


In our continuing series on advocacy tips, we look to arm you with the tools needed to get the attention of your elected officials. This week we will be focusing on the age-old skill of letter writing and how it can be applied to the modern era.

You have the right to write! Most of the time, the purpose of writing a letter to an elected official is to request action on a specific issue or policy. Letters sent by constituents carry powerful messages, but you need to make your letter stand out from the crowd. You can do this by keeping it professional, short, and focused.

When you think about the purpose being to take a specific action, it makes the task a little easier. You aren’t necessarily writing to persuade them to adopt your way of thinking. If you want to deepen an elected official’s support and understanding of the travel economy, the best way is through face-to-face conversations and providing research to back up your discussion. Then, when an issue needs action, a letter lets your elected official know which decision you support.

Form letters are not as effective. As Bradford Fitch of the Congressional Management Foundation puts it, “Do you really think an [elected official] is going to read a hundred of these missives and say, ‘Oh, NOW, I’m convinced,” then suddenly run in the member’s office like a converted zealot?” Of course, the answer is no. He emphasizes that the point of letters is to request things of your elected official, not to try and persuade them to your point of view.

Indeed, 96 percent of offices surveyed by the Congressional Management Foundation say that individualized letters from constituents can have at least some influence on members of Congress. Their research shows that receiving a personal letter from you ranks third in effective ways to get an elected official’s attention. The first is when you make a personal visit; the second is when a person representing collective interests makes a visit (such as when the Ohio Travel Association meets with policymakers).

With that in mind, here are a few things you can do to be successful in your letter writing.

Ask for Specific or Measurable Things

Be Brief

Stay Focused

Include Essential Materials

The Honorable (First Name, Last Name)
Ohio House of Representatives
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43266-0603
And make sure you include your return address.

Own Your Letter

Make it Personal

Make Your Voice Larger

Show Them You Care

For more from our Legislative Advocacy 101 series, visit the following:

Engaging Lawmakers on Social Media

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