Ten Tips for Communicating with Elected Officials
Whether it's with a Member of Congress or a City Council member, you can use these tips to ensure a successful issues meeting.
Make an Appointment and Be on Time.
Legislators' schedules can be very hectic and very tight. Respect their time, and they will respect your position.
Be Prepared. Do your homework.
Know the points you want to cover. Anticipate questions your legislator might have and craft responses ahead of time. ABR Governmental Affairs staff can provide you with background information or talking points on issues.
Every time you make contact with your legislator and his or her staff, clearly state your name and that you represent the Atlanta Board of REALTORS®.
Get to the Point.
Be concise, specific, and clear. After making introductions, refer to the purpose of your visit. If you're asking your legislator to take a specific action on a specific issue at a specific time, give him or her all the details.
Localize the Issue.
Let your legislator know how your issue or proposal is affecting the daily lives of his or her constituents.
Acknowledge the Opposition.
If you know of opposition to your proposal, let your legislator know about it. Always regard and respect your opponents. Don't denigrate the other side, but instead be prepared to honestly articulate ABR's response. This will illustrate your depth of understanding, and may neutralize your opponent's influence.
Hand Out a Position Paper.
If needed, reinforce your position with a succinct, one-page position paper. Always attach a business card.
Close the Deal.
Ask your legislator if you can count on his or her support.
Get a Name.
After you've made your case, ask with whom on the legislator's staff you should follow up.
Follow Up Promptly.
Send a letter thanking your legislator for his or her time and attention. In your letter, briefly summarize the content and nature of your discussion. Assure your legislator of your willingness to answer questions or provide additional information. Include another copy of your position paper. If your legislator indicated he or she would support your position, say thank you for the assistance. Finally, contact ABR staff and advise us of any developments or information you learned at your meeting.
Three Things NOT To Do When Meeting with Your Elected Officials
Don’t Deliver a Campaign Contribution.
Never deliver an RPAC or personal campaign contribution when you are there to meet about a ABR issue. In fact, don’t even mention it during your meeting.
Don’t Embellish, Overstate, or Make Ultimatums.
You wouldn’t do this with a client, so don’t do it with your legislator.
If faced with a question you can’t answer, don’t guess. Instead, say that you will look into the question and get back with an answer as soon as possible.