Environmental Advocacy

Tips for Writing or Calling Your Elected Officials

You want to get your message across to your Congressional representatives or elected officials in ways which will influence them -- not offend them. Here are some basic tips to help you make effective phone calls, e-mail messages, or even snail-mail letters.

    Legislative Hall in Dover - Photo by Steven Breukelman
  • Address public officials with respect. Use Dear Senator, Dear Representative or Dear Governor in the greeting. Address the President as the Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States.
  • If you send a handwritten letter, be sure it is legible to anyone who reads it. Print, if necessary.
  • Identify the bill, policy or regulation by number and correct title, if possible. There may be many bills or proposed policies dealing with the topic, and knowing the correct number and title helps avoid confusion.
  • Identify yourself, and give your full address. An elected official is more likely to pay attention to someone from her/his own district or state. If you have some special interest in the issue (e.g. it's related to your job, your area of expertise, etc.), you may want to mention that.
  • Make sure that every letter, phone call or email message deals with one, and only one, issue. Keep your message short, and always related to the key point you want to make. Provide only key supporting data or facts that will show you are familiar with the issue and are basing your opinion on facts.
  • You should be able to get your point across in 30 seconds or less if you're making a phone call. Write your message out in advance, and read it on the phone. Before you call, double check the message: does it clearly make your one key point? Does it support the point with a few major facts? Does it state what action you desire?
  • When legislators or other elected officials do something good, write to congratulate them and support their position. This is especially important if the action they took is controversial and likely to draw strong opposition.
  • Be rational and polite. If your manner is offensive, the letter may backfire on you by alienating the recipient.
  • Before sending your message, check grammar and spelling. Remove all clichés and unnecessary words. Have someone else read the message to make sure you're making the point you intended to make.
  • Don't apologize for your opinions, or for writing the letter.
  • Ready to take the next step? Contact information for Delaware's elected and appointed officials can be found by clicking here.