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Friday, 20 Oct 2017

Advocacy Tips

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Including meeting with State Legislators or Members of Congress and their staff.

Before meeting with members or their staff, learn something about the members including their background and similar issues they have supported or opposed. Our list of advocacy resources features websites that may help you.

Understand the process; how Congress and/of your legislature works, how offices function and how laws are made. Our advocacy resources can help.

 

Meeting with a member or staff

Remember these simple rules when planning and attending a meeting.

General rules:

  • If meeting as a group, chose a leader before the meeting and let that person carry your group message. Each member of the group can play a part, telling their story or their reason for being there.
  • Take several business cards and leave one with each person in the room. If you don't have business cards, print a sheet with your contact details for everyone.
  • Brevity - Be succinct and well prepared. Stick to the issue and do not expand the discussion to include other issues.
  • Do not engage in 'small talk' unless initiated by the person with whom you are meeting.
  • Men's Health Policy Center provides fact sheets on the issues that are important to you. Read these and take a copy with you to refer to during the meeting. Don't try to cover too many topics in a meeting, two is enough.

The meeting:

  • Identify yourself and make sure that everyone in the room does the same. Be clear about who you represent: “I am Mary Jones of the Family Health Coalition.” – or – “I am Mary Jones and I represent myself and my (father – or – son – or – mother)….”
  • Ask the name of each person you are meeting with, and their position in the office (health legislative aide, Legislative Director, etc.).
  • It the office supports your stance, or has expressed sympathy with the issue, start by thanking them for that support or concern.
  • Be clear about what you want the member to do, and be polite.
  • Listen carefully to what the member or staff person has to say and take notes. If you are not sure what is meant by a comment, politely ask them to explain the statement. It is okay to ask questions as they will not expect you to be an expert on the legislative process.
  • Don't always expect an answer or position at the first meeting, but do ask how they feel about your issue.
  • Offer to help and be a resource. The aim is to build a relationship and trust with the member and his or her staff. Make sure you follow up on any requests. If you need information that is not available on Men's Health Policy Center, just drop us an email, we're here to support you.
  • Be correct. The quickest way to sour an relationship with a member or their office is to provide incorrect information. If you don't know the answer to a question, don’t make something up or use questionable data, but do offer to find out and get back to the person.
  • Leave a one-page fact sheet clearly outlining the important details of the issue you are discussing.
  • Thank the people you are meeting with for their time, even if they don't agree with you.

Follow-up:

  • Follow up with a thank you note outlining the discussion you had and extra information you wish to provide.
  • Check back with the office in a week to 10 days to see what action they are taking on your issue.