How to Contact Congress
Retailers Association of the Americas communicates with its members
through the "Bearings" and "Washington Watch" newsletters, Membership
Advisories and Dealer Action Alerts, providing its membership with
updates on news and legislation affecting the association and its
members. When you receive and advisory, an alert a communication from
the Washington Watch, you may consider communicating with Congress.
Here's some background and some information how to communicate with
Congress contends with a mountain of mail. You must communicate in a way that is heard.
The U.S. Postal Service may be struggling financially because of the
drop in mail volume, but Congress has the opposite problem. More people
than ever before are writing to their lawmakers, and House and Senate
offices are working overtime to keep up. And, remember, since 9-11, all
mail to Congress is first sent to Ohio where it is screened with
microwaves. This process takes an additional two weeks.
Some constituents still like to communicate the old-fashioned way, by
mailing a letter, but the growth of e-mail and the proliferation of
websites enabling people to contact Congress have created a deluge of
messages requiring a response. Notably the bulk of messages to Congress
are generated by associations advocating a position. It is estimated as
many as 10,000 nonprofit organizations, like MRAA, have sections on
their Web sites devoted to Congressional communications.
Congress' preferred way for you to communicate with them today
is email. Not surprisingly, the offices that are most comfortable using
the new tools are also best able to handle your messages. MRAA
recommends you use email first, FAX messaging second and old-fashioned
snail mail as the last resort.
What Do You Say?
Now you know the issue and the method to communicate with Congress. How
do you become a boat dealer in action? But more important perhaps is
why should you advocate? You have heard from MRAA about an issue, you
are convinced that some sort of government action would improve your
business, you are enthusiastic, and yet despite your conversations with
employees, friends, family and colleagues, what do you say?
Frankly you must do more than talk to colleagues to get the message
across to policymakers in Washington or anywhere. But through the
lobbying efforts of MRAA, we provide you with the necessary tools.
You become an active participant in government by calling, writing, or
visiting elected officials and staff to share your views. This is the
most important activity you can undertake.
The factors to consider are:
- Build personal relationships
- Present a compact and clear message
- Use the Media
- And the Most Important Factor
¿ What's the one thing you must have in order to influence an elected
official? The one end all, be all, essential element to your effective
lobby effort? It is you. It is you, as a voter and constituent of an
There are four Principles for Effective Lobbying you must know.
MRAA is the best first step for
identifying what you want. MRAA has done the heavy lifting to position
marine issues for success in Washington. MRAA has sifted through the
thousands of bills that are introduced annually and works closely with
legislators and staff to ensure the bills supportive to marine retailing
are passed and bills harmful to retailing are defeated. MRAA
communicates materials to its members to help answer the question "what
can my legislator do for me." You receive Action Alerts and Advisories
outlining specific "asks" upon which you should focus.
- Know the issues and what you want
- Know who you are talking to
- Know how to talk to them
- Know how to follow up
MRAA advises you who to contact when Action Alerts are issued, but you
must know how to talk and how to "make the ask" to elected officials.
Follow-up letters or emails are always important.
Click here to find the contact details for your Representative
Click here to find the contact details for your Senators