Communications Guidelines

The Ways to Contact Members of Congress (MOCs):

When you reach out to the offices of MOCs you will be dealing with their paid staffers or unpaid interns, who are the ones who receive and process communications from constituents. Things are done differently in each MOCs office, but we have listed some general principles below. Something else to keep in mind: In general, MOCs are really only interested in communicating with their own constituents, and may even forward communications from outside of their district to the MOC who represents the communicator. However, there are times, especially when an important bill or hearing is before a congressional committee, that you may wish to reach out to the MOCs on that committee, regardless of what geographical area they represent.

Facebook or Twitter: are checked by staffers only on occasion, and for the most part these are the least effective way to communicate with a MOC. They are, however, not bad ways to see what your MOC is putting out publicly.

Emails: often come in such volume that they cannot be dealt with individually. In Bill Keating’s office and others’ they may be batched by computer based on the topic. Mass emails from advocacy groups, all with the same message carry less weight than personal, well-crafted communications.

Postcards or letters: if your issue is not time sensitive, writing is a good choice. The benefit of postcards over letters are: 1. They are visual so you can include a striking image on the front. 2. They are easier to process, since they don’t need to be opened. 3. They are less expensive to send than letters. 4. It is easier for a group to produce and sign a large number of postcards to send to MOCs. (For more tips see: How to Write a Letter to a Member of Congress)

Phone Calls: according to a former congressional aide, phone calls are a more effective way of getting your message across than any of the other ways listed above because they have to be dealt with as they happen. The benefit of calling the Washington office is that your concern will probably go into a database immediately. So, if you’re calling about a pending bill, calling DC may be the way to go. For less urgent matters, a call to the district office might be preferable. You are more likely to speak to an intern in DC and a paid staffer in the district office. (see: Tips for Effective Phone Calls to Members of Congress).

Attending Town Hall Meetings or Visiting Offices: showing up is always a good idea if you can do it. This is the only method of communicating that will get you directly to the MOC, and it allows you to have a conversation or at least a group interaction. If your MOC does not schedule town halls, you can schedule your own and invite your elected official to attend.