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Writing Effective Messages to Elected Officials

Writing a personalized message to your legislators is still the most effective way to express your opinions. The Missoula Chamber’s Advocacy Center Website provides a quick and easy way for you to do so.  You can use it to either participate in one of the Chamber’s campaigns, or to send a letter on any topic to any of your elected officials.

1)      Write on one issue per email. On state and federal issues, identify the bill number (e.g., H.R. 215) in the first paragraph.

2)      Make sure your contact information is included in your message so your legislators know which district or ward you or your business resides in.  If you use the Advocacy Center Website, you do not have to worry about putting it on each letter- the website will do it for you.

3)      To be most effective, try to edit the sample message furnished on the Advocacy Center Website with your own thoughts. 

4)      Keep your message local, personal, and concise. Provide specific examples of how the legislation will impact your business, industry, and employees. Try to write no more than one page.

5)      Quality is always more important than quantity.  One well written and well supported message is worth a hundred copies of an identical email.

6)      Above all, maintain a professional tone in your message. We know that you feel strongly about your views, but showing anger toward your legislators will only cause them to dis­count your opinion. You need to foster a positive, and ideally long-term, relationship with your legislators if you want them to be receptive.

7)      Provide background on your industry and the issue. Don't assume that your legislators are familiar with the impact any bill will have on your business or that they have already taken a position on it.

8)      Clearly state the action you would like your lawmaker to take, e.g., "please vote against H.R. 215."

9)      Ask for, but do not demand, a reply that outlines your lawmaker's position.

10)   Choose your battles. While you should try to build a relationship with your elected officials, you should not write so often that you become known for a single issue or as a constant letter writer.