Tips for Communicating with Your Leg Legislator islator When communicating with a public official from the local to national levels, there are things that we need to consider:
Legislators and elected officials are busy people, as passionate as you are , they may not understand your specific issue, and have many things to do. Do not be disrespectful by demanding their time on your schedule. If you ask, they are obligated to hear you, or delegate the conversation to one of their staff. This doesn’t mean that you are wasting your time, the legislator is just utilizing their staff to prioritize their schedule.
Leave printed materials at their office—make these succinct, to the point, and brief.
Oversaturation of materials are often ignored—if you leave a 50 page report, the chances that the legislator will read all 50 pages is very slim. Likewise, if you have 50 pages of materials, let them know that you have it, and allow them to ask you to see it. No need to kill a tree if it is unwarranted.
Presentation and decorum are not only respected, but are also expected. Dress should be at least business casual—no shorts , tank tops or shirts with provocative sayings or images.
When speaking, look the person in the eyes.
One negative statement can erase ten positive facts. Speak to why your position is positive, and for the ‘greatest good’. Panic is not good.
Agree on talking points—uniform language will impact not only the legislators, but will show a unified front.
Speak from personal experience and make sure that those you are speaking with understand your interests.
Organization is just as important as message. Don’t send 25 people saying the same thing to the legislator in person, one on one, have one speaker with 24 people behind them.
If you call, make sure that you leave a name and a number that you will be monitoring, and that will be answered in a timely fashion. Keep in mind , if the issue is very popular, you may get a ‘mailbox is full’ message. Be patient.
If you decide to visit their office, it will be beneficial to include a thoughtful letter with your leave-behind materials. If you’re writing before or after your visit, you can use email, fax, or regular mail. The sample letter below can help to give you an idea on how to proceed.
A legislators staff is as important as the individual legislator. Please realize, you may see your legislator for fifteen minutes, their staff spend the entire week with them. Better to create an advocate within the office than disrespecting a staff member and creating an enemy.
When you arrive at their office, start my simply introducing yourself and telling him or her where you live. This is a good ice-breaker and lets them know you are a constituent. Keep your conversation simple, concise, and clear. Avoid jargon and acronyms. Refrain from making assumptions. Do not presume those you visit with are versed in the issues important to you.
If you reside in one district, own a business and/or work in another, be sure to include elected officials from all districts.
Preserve your credibility—If you don’t know the correct answer to an issue, say so and offer a follow up later.
Rehearse your key points in advance and practice telling your story. If others are joining you, determine who will say what and when.
E-mail is timely and less formal, but it is more common and oftentimes preferred by legislators. A brief, hand- written, hard-copy letter is more personal and can catch the attention of legislators and staff. Even if you don’t know all of the specifics of a bill or issue, your personal support of licensed massage therapy and the protection of your career and livelihood is the most important story you can share. Relate your real-life experiences about the importance of quality education for practitioners, protection of the profession, its benefits to consumers and its place in the integrated healthcare community.
A Sample Letter for a Massage Therapy Legislative/Awareness Day might look like this: DATE The Honorable NAME STATE LEGISLATIVE BODY Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Dear TITLE and LAST NAME: As we recognize Massage Therapy Legislative Awareness Day on March 30 th, it is a perfect time to ask for your consideration and support of the more than 2,000 Oklahoma Massage Therapists who earn at least some part of their living as massage therapy professionals. And as your constituent and a licensed massage therapist, I'd like to ask for your support for the policies that protect and advance the profession and the fair practice rights for Licensed Massage Therapy in Oklahoma. This includes the creation of a Massage Licensing Act . The licensed massage therapy community remains committed to sensible regulation of the profession and accountable to the responsibilities that such regulation requires. (You can share a brief personal story about your licensed massage therapy career here) Please support licensed massage therapy and its licensees in Oklahoma by voting for a responsible Massage Therapy Licensure.
NAME ADDRESS PHONE NUMBER (OPTIONAL)
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