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Congress Communication Tips

Know your issue.

Take a few minutes to research the lawmaker you’re calling and the specific issue or legislation you’re calling about. For example, this piece on the MAHSA Act.

Be concise, polite, and professional.

Staffers receive hundreds of calls a day on a variety of issues. If you are concise in your comments, they will appreciate you. Of course, as always, be polite and professional in your language and tone.

Focus on your own lawmakers.

Members of Congress and their staff devote individual attention to requests from people within their district, meaning that calls from people within their state or district have a greater impact. Find your House representative here and your Senators here.

Identify yourself.

State your name early and include where you are calling or emailing from. If you’re reaching out from outside the district or state, explain why (for example, because the Congressman is on a relevant committee or has an extensive record supporting your cause).

Make it personal.

Reading/sending a scripted statement that others are also sharing can appear disingenuous and make the calls less impactful. Talk about the issue at hand and why the policy you are calling about is so important to you, Iranian-Americans, and the United States.

Focus on the information, not the emotion.

Our advocacy is often backed by emotion, but it is important when speaking with Congress to focus on the practical and functional reasons to support the policy you are calling about.

Don’t get frustrated.

Congressional offices may give you answers you don’t want to hear. They may not give you an answer at all. That’s okay, and doesn’t mean your voice wasn’t heard or impactful. Remain encouraged and understand that pushing congress to take action can be a long process.

Be persistent.

All outreach matters and has at least a marginal impact. But the more you reach out to congressional offices and develop a positive, professional relationship with them, the more effective you can be.

Respect offices’ requests for discretion.

You want real answers when you speak to Congress, and staffers are less likely to give you any if they think you will immediately make their words public. If a staffer asks you to keep a conversation private at least temporarily, for example until the office reviews legislation in-depth, it’s best to respect their wishes.

Leave a voicemail.

Congressional offices often cannot answer every call, but they do respond to voicemails from their constituents. When leaving a voicemail, follow the same steps as a regular call, and be sure to request a response (which requires you to leave an email or phone number).