Never Underestimate the Power
Why We Contact You
To Contact Lawmakers
by Belinda Judson
Executive Director, Mid-States NATO
Perhaps many of you have wondered why you
sometimes get calls from us asking you to make contact
with your legislators
on a particular issue. And, perhaps, many of you do not
realize the importance of what your responsiveness to these
You count on your national or state/regional
NATO representatives to monitor and keep you apprised of
You may also ask them to communicate the associations’ position
on the proposed legislation and maybe even testify to legislative
committees on your behalf. So why, when they handle the
lobbying duties, do they come to you on occasion asking
for action on your part?
As you know, while your input is important,
your help is not enlisted on every single piece of legislation.
times your association representatives can ascertain that
a lawmaker’s stance on an issue clearly favors the
exhibition industry. However, there are times when the
lawmaker’s position may not be as favorable and the
legislative process becomes more challenging. This requires
us to campaign harder to fight back onerous legislation
or implement favorable laws and, at times, enlist your
help. But why?
While recently attending some legislative
seminars in Washington, D.C., I heard speeches by some
former congressional staff
members discussing the most effective ways of communicating
with members of Congress and their staffs. They explained
that their bosses would get thousands upon thousands of
communications asking for support on various issues. The
same holds true for the legislators on the state level.
So how do you make sure that your message gets to the top
of the heap and doesn’t get lost in the shuffle?
They stated that there were a myriad of
reasons why a particular issue might grab the attention
of a congressman. The influence
of friends and staff, something that would bring jobs and
development into their districts, the media, reelection
concerns, their own principles and good public service
were some of the reasons that were listed. However, they
all stated that THE most important reason a message gets
noticed is if it comes from one of their CONSTITUENTS.
If you live or do business in the legislator’s
district, a personalized heartfelt communication from you,
via phone, letter, e-mail or visit, has the most effective
influence of all. When a representative hears from you,
it becomes clear to them that the legislation will have
a direct impact on their constituents.
We realize that, as busy as you are, it
is not always easy to respond to our calls for help. Speaking
I know that crises always seem to crop up at the most inconvenient
times. This is why, when we do call, please know that we
do so because we feel that it is very important to have
Many of you may have personal relationships
with your legislators and can easily get their attention.
Conversely, we understand,
too, that others may be a bit unsure of the lobbying process.
Some of you may not know where to reach your legislator
or exactly how to convey your message. We can certainly
help you with contact information and suggested language
for your communications. We can help with suggested ways
to get to know your legislators better so that it will
be easier to get their attention when an issue arises (something
we’ll discuss at length in a future column).
While your association representatives can
help you with the mechanics of contacting your lawmakers,
the fact that you, the constituent, deliver the most