Archive for October 2nd, 2008

Don’t Just Spam Congress: Creative Ways to Put Your Supporter List to Work

Cross-posted on K Street Cafe

Congress does not lack for citizen input — every year, hundreds of millions of emails, faxes, letters and calls crashland on the Hill, and some congressional offices are so overwhelmed that they’ve basically stopped accepting electronic communications from constituents.

Advocacy groups often contribute to the problem by using their own supporter lists to add to the mountain of messages, sometimes generating tens or hundreds of thousands of identical (or near-identical) emails from across the country. But as research from the Congressional Management Foundation shows, form emails are just about the least influential way to contact Congress, with many staffers believing (though without any real evidence) that they’re often generated without citizens’ knowledge.

It helps when conscientious organizations and their vendors steer constituents to contact only their own representatives, as does the practice of encouraging activists to add their own words to any pre-written text. But in a week in which emails to Congress spiked beyond anything we’ve seen before, and actually forced the House to put a throttle on incoming messages, lets look at some uses for your supporter list that DON’T involve sending large amounts of lookalike text to our federal representatives.

(more…)

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