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Is my letter to my representative or senator effective? How do officials react to the preformatted letters that TU provides for response to specific issues?
The gold standard for messages to Congress is an individual's thoughtful, mailed (or almost as good, faxed) letter to his or her own Representative or Senators with a message that clearly relates to that person's district and issues. Those letters are the absolute best way to communicate. Sometimes the best of these letters get shown to the Representative or Senator. Usually, however, they get put into a pre-existing category and a form letter is returned.
Short of that gold standard are a variety of other communications.
- A phone call is good, but the content is recorded as a tally on a tallysheet (Issue: for or against).
- Preprinted/ preformatted letters and faxes are treated the same way, but are given much more weight if they contain the senders snail mail address, so the office can see that they are from a constituent.
- Emails individually written, from a constituent is afforded almost the weight of a letter.
- A spam email from a non-constituent is disregarded.
- Prewritten emails, like we use in many of our Action Alerts, from a constituent (that is why we ask for snail mail address and send the message only to your Representative or Senator) are pretty good. The Member's office pays attention to the number received and the message. We encourage activists to personalize the email to reflect your concerns and your state or Congressional district. We also encourage activists to print the letter and mail it (or fax it on fast-breaking issues). The email message is intended to work both as a guide for those with the time and interest to make the message more personal and as a stand alone message.The activist email system at TU is rapidly evolving.
Thanks again for your interest. Contacting your Representative or Congressman is really worthwhile and helps us show Congress that there are a lot of people who care about coldwater fisheries conservation!