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Members Can Gain Extra Leverage by Lobbying Legislators Year-Round

Posted By Bob Ogle, Friday, May 9, 2014

ESA’s government relations advocacy efforts reach their peak every year at Day on Capitol Hill. But if you weren’t able to join your colleagues in Washington – or even if you did participate and are wondering how you can continue to make a difference – there’s a lot that can be accomplished close to home.

Director of Government Relations John Chwat emphasizes the importance of networking with elected officials year-round. "It is critical that ESA be a part of this flow of relationships,” he said. "It not only influences the final outcome of policies for the industry, but it provides easier access for requests whenever it might be needed. It also establishes our members as resources for any matters relating to life safety and security.”

Here are the four main issues that are important to our industry, and here are three things you can do – without leaving home – to let your elected officials know the issues that are important to you, your business and our industry.

  1. Visit your legislators when they get back home: Your elected representatives return to their home districts often to meet with constituents. Set up an appointment to meet with them or their staff members to discuss industry issues and how they relate to your business.

    FACT: According to a 2010 study by the Congressional Management Foundation, 94 percent of all Congressional staff members said that a visit by a constituent to the home office has influence on an undecided member of Congress.

  2. Write, call or send an email: Get the appropriate contact information by going to www.contactingthecongress.org. You'll find links to mailing addresses, phone numbers and email forms for members of Congress specific to your area. Try to personalize the issue by explaining how it affects you and your business; staffers say a personal touch goes a long way toward making your message stand out.

    FACT: According to the 2010 study, 90 percent of staffers said postal mail will influence an undecided member of Congress, while 88 percent said email also carries considerable influence.

  3. Use social media like Facebook or Twitter: Virtually every Congressman has a social media presence. Do an Internet search using the member's name and the word Facebook or Twitter, and you'll get the information you need. On Facebook, click the "Message" button on the legislator's site; on Twitter, simply tweet to the legislator's account.

    FACT: Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of staff members believe Facebook is an important way for constituents to communicate their views, while three-quarters (74 percent) think it is a great way for legislators to communicate their views to potential voters.

More information is available by contacting Chwat at john@thechwatgroup.com.

Tags:  Day on Capitol Hill  federal legislation  legislation 

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