~A fast and convenient way to share information. But be sure to:
- Keep it formal by including the same information you would if you were writing a letter- do not use abbreviations
- Address it properly with the legislator full name and title
- Include your contact information
- Let them know that you are a constituent
- Leave your name, address and a clear, brief message.
- State why you are calling and what you would like the legislator to do.
- Never turn down an opportunity to speak with an aide or the person who answers the phone about your issue.
- Prepare your message prior to a phone call just as you would an in-person meeting.
Before the visit:
- Prepare! Plan!
- Decide the best time to go. Time your visit so they have enough time to consider the information you share before they need to act.The best days to meet with Legislators in their Lansing offices are Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.
- Make an appointment.
- You will need a picture ID if you are visiting the House Office Building.
- Figure out where you are going ahead of time. Information about legislator’s offices including room and phone numbers can be found online at: www.michigan.gov
- Learn a little about your legislator before your visit. You can also find a bio about each representative and senator on Michigan.gov. Do your homework- learn about their interests and background before you go. Then you can try to make a connection to between your issue and something they care about.
- Be prepared- Know your issue and prepare your message before you go. Planning out your message in writing ahead of time including the key points you want to share can be very helpful.
- Think about leaving something with the legislator that will remind them of your message.
During the Visit:
- Be prompt and patient! You may have to wait.
- Focus on 1 main issue.
- After you share your message, Listen, ask if they have questions and what their thoughts are on the issue.
- Be responsive to their concerns and priorities.
- Say I don’t know when you don’t know the answers to their questions.
- Be sure to tell your legislator if you are their constituent.
- Explain how this legislation or policy may affect children youth with mental health challenges and their families and also if you can why this issue is important to all Michigan citizen’s.
- Let them know why you care about this issue and why they should too!
- Give examples or better yet share relevant real life stories.
- Focus on the needs of kids with mental health challenges and their families, what works and what doesn’t and common barriers families face.
- Try to share real life examples of why access to particular support or service is important.
- Provide facts to support your point.
- Identify the issue or bill by name or number if you know it.
- Suggest a solution if you have one.
- Tell them what you would like them to do or how they can help.
- Offer to be a resource, Ask for a response, and follow up!
After the Visit:
- Send a thank you card or e-mail and thank them for their time and attention to your issue- this is a great place to briefly remind them of your message!
- Keep in touch periodically, share relevant information from time to time Keep in mind that the most effective way to have your message heard is to get involved and build relationships with those you are trying to share your message with. Mark Twain said it best: When you need a friend, it’s too late to make one.”
- Invite them to presentations, open houses, and other events in your community.