Communicating with your elected official through written communication is less effective than speaking with them in person, but it has the advantage of being quick and straightforward. We recommend sending an email to the elected official you are looking to reach, this is often a better option. If you need to send a letter, scan it and send it as an email attachment to the legislator’s staff that handles the issue for the quickest response.
If you’re communicating with your legislator via email, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Write your letter on your business letterhead. Send the email from your company email and on company letterhead if possible. This lets the staffer know that you are not just speaking for yourself but for the whole company.
- Get right to the point. Rambling is a time-waster for both you and your reader. Succinctness is more important than style and rhetoric. If you’ve met either the legislator or the staff member that regularly handles the issue, personalize the letter by briefly recalling your meeting (e.g., “When we met on the new tax proposal in Senate Bill 18 back in June…”) before diving into the issue at hand.
- Your purpose for writing should be in the first paragraph. If you are writing about a specific piece of legislation, be sure to include the bill number (e.g., House Bill 3645 or Senate Bill 18). Be clear about your position, using short examples to build your case.
- Don’t jam too much into your letter. Keep your letter or email to a page or less. If the issue is complicated, enclose or attach additional material for the reader’s reference or for the elected official to reference later on their own time. Highlight the important issues and try to confine yourself, if possible, to no more than one issue per letter. This helps the staffer receiving the letter accurately direct and account for the correspondence.
- Let your elected official know the potential impact of their vote. If their vote will mean more jobs in their area, they will want to know. Conversely, if their legislation will hurt your business, they need to know that too. You are the legislator’s eyes and ears on the ground and can often offer a unique perspective on the issue at hand as a business owner.
To a Representative:
The Honorable (full name)
___(Room #)_____ House Office Building
S. House of Representatives
Washington D.C. 20515
To a Senator:
The Honorable (full name)
__(Room #) _____Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington D.C. 20510
Note: When writing to the chair of a Committee, it’s proper to address your letter to “Mr. Chairman” or “Madam Chairwoman” rather than the more generic “Representative” or “Senator” title if the correspondence relates to their work as committee chair.