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How to Contact Congress
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How to Contact Congress

The Marine 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:

Congress contends with a mountain of mail.  You must communicate in a way that is heard.

Contact your representatives in Washington D.C. now!

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 elected official.
There are four Principles for Effective Lobbying you must know.
  • 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 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.

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.

Contact your representatives in Washington D.C. now!