Tips for Communicating With Your Legislator

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Tips for working with your legislator.

From the American Heart Association's NC Director of Government Relations Betsy Vetter.

Presented at the Southern District AAHPERD Leadership Conference in Greensboro, NC July 15-16, 2010.

Published in: Education
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Tips for Communicating With Your Legislator

  1. 1. TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR LEGISLATOR Remember that conversations directly with a lawmaker may be very brief, so you need to be prepared to deliver message in just a short amount of time. The Greeting: who you are, where you live, getting to know you conversation, beginning to build the relationship. Provide enough to make a connection. This is also something that will serve as a foundation for future engagement. Background: Why are you calling/writing/visiting? Why is this issue important to you? Feedback/Questions: Ask the lawmaker what they know of the issue. Listen and if they have questions you can’t answer write down the question and respond that you will follow up to get them the answers. Follow up as soon as possible with AHA staff so they can help you find the answers. Then, provide this information to the lawmaker. You have now created a dialogue. Generate emotion: Tell your story – this is your experience and why the issue is personally something you care about. Communicate the important role the legislator can play: how can the policy change help you, a friend, a neighbor, and/or the community build healthier lives? Make the “ask”: Communicate clearly what you are asking the legislator to do. Will he/she support a specific piece of legislation? Will they be a “champion” for the issue? Legislative Staff: A frequent key to success. Lawmakers are very busy and count on staff to help them. The staff members have more time to give you, so build that relationship, too. Get to know your lawmaker’s staff members and make sure you provide them the same information as the lawmaker. Stay in touch: Continually work to build and strengthen the relationship. Follow up meetings with a thank you letter. Follow up on any questions the lawmaker asked or requests for more information. Make an appointment on your calendar to the call the legislator again in a few weeks and plan to check in periodically. If a new piece of information or research is released, send it along to your legislator. Pay attention to what he/she is working on and, when appropriate, reach out to thank and commend him/her for their work. For more information: Betsy Vetter Director of Government Relations NC Advocacy Program American Heart Association Mid-Atlantic Affiliate 3131 RDU Center Drive Suite 100, Morrisville, NC 27560 betsy.vetter@heart.org; (919) 463-8328 www.yourthecure.org

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