GOVERNMENT RELATIONS

How to Communicate With Your LegislatorPhoto of the Kentucky State Capitol Building

 

The Telephone Call

Using the telephone is a quick way to let your legislator know your opinion, and it is especially useful during busy legislative sessions when change can occur often. Sometimes, however, legislators are difficult to reach personally, and you may be asked to speak with an aide. If that occurs, try to speak with the aide who is responsible for higher education issues. Regardless of whom you speak with, be prepared, concise, friendly, and appreciative. Be prepared and, if speaking of specific legislation, begin with the bill number and the subject matter.

  • Contact the UK Government Relations staff by sending in a Legislator Contact Form, by e-mail or by telephone.

The Letter

Letters are probably the most common way that constituents communicate with their elected officials. Letters should be brief (no more than one page) and contain a personal message. Form letters may generate a volume of mail, but they do not have the impact of a personally written letter.

On your own letterhead, introduce yourself in the first paragraph. Tell the legislator that you are an alum, parent, or concerned supporter of the university. If you live in the legislator's district, tell him or her how long you have been a constituent. Use the second paragraph to outline one or two critical points. You may want to use a personal example of how the university has affected you or your family. If the purpose the phone call is to discuss specific legislation, include the bill number, title and subject matter.

Use the concluding paragraph to ask the legislator his or her position on the issue(s) in question and say that you are looking forward to a response. This will establish the dialogue for continued communications. Be sure to include a return address.

  • Forward a copy of your written correspondence as well as any response from the legislator to the UK Government Relations Office.

The E-mail

Email is perhaps the most direct way to contact your legislator as many legislators check their email directly. However, that does not ensure a rapid response. When sending an email, expect it to be treated like all other communications and not responded to immediately. Structure your email as if it were a letter because although email is often considered an informal form of correspondence, it is important to be professional and concise when communicating electronically.

  • Forward a copy of your e-mail and any response from your legislator to the UK Government Relations office.

The Visit

Visiting with a legislator in person is the most effective way to advocate. Here are some important tips:

  • Schedule an appointment in advance.
  • Keep your visit brief -- no more than fifteen minutes, unless the legislator would like to have a longer meeting.
  • Organize your thoughts in advance, and prepare an outline of your position.
  • Be polite and friendly to the legislator and his or her staff. If you disagree with a legislator, state your position and graciously listen to his/her response. You may agree on future issues and work together then.
  • Use personal examples when talking with the legislator -- all politics are local!
  • Be a good listener as it is often quite valuable to know the legislator’s position on an issue. View the meeting as an exchange of thoughts and information.
  • Be reasonable in your requests.
  • Leave a summary of your talking points and position.
  • Send a thank-you or follow-up letter.
  • Contact the UK Government Relations staff by sending in a Legislator Contact Form, by e-mail or by telephone.
University of Kentucky
Government Relations

213 Main Building
Lexington, KY 40506-0032
(859) 257-2529
Fax: (859) 257-9065
Updated April 3, 2013 <> Webmaster