Legislative Outreach and Advocacy
Keeping in touch with your local and state legislators is a crucial tactic for securing support for archives in your area. This page provides some tips and resources for finding and talking to your legislators.
How do I find my representatives?
Are there other legislators I should talk to?
- Go to http://votesmart.org/
- Enter your full address (many zip codes in Georgia encompass multiple legislative districts)
- Scroll down to State Legislative and expand. The page will show you both your State House Representative and your State Senator
- Votesmart.org also includes information about people running for election, voting records for current legislators, and legislators positions on various issues.
- SGA has created a quick reference guide to find legislative districts for repositories in Georgia.
- Consider contacting the legislators from the district where you work. Legislators care about the universities, businesses and organizations in their districts and they want to hear from representatives of those organizations.
- Also consider contacting members of the following committees:
- State House of Representatives
How do I make first contact?
- Once you know who your representatives are, you can go to the General Assembly website and look up their contact information.
What do I say when I call or write?
- Find your legislator in the list, and on their individual page you will find their phone number, address and email address. For example: Individual page
- This page will also list the committee membership of your legislator so you can find out at a glance if your legislator is also a member of one of the committees listed above.
- Remember that personal contact is more effective than writing. Consider calling and scheduling a face to face meeting with your legislator.
- Don’t forget about social media. Find your legislator on Facebook and Twitter.
How do I stay in touch?
- Know your audience. Figure out what relevant information will be most compelling and powerful to your individual legislator.
- When contacting your legislator, be concise. Boil down your points to the few that are most crucial for getting your message across.
- Be concise, but be specific.
- Explain why their support is important, and what it will accomplish.
- Remember that legislators are fact oriented. Include evidence that supports your claims.
- Don’t be afraid to get personal. Share a brief story that will illustrate the value of the institution or project for which you’re asking support.
- Stay on message, especially if you're working in conjunction with a larger advocacy campaign.
- Always be polite and professional.
- For example: SGA's 2011 letter about the Georgia Archives budget
- Don’t let your first email be your last!
- Extend an invitation for your legislator to visit your institution.
- Arrange a show and tell for your legislator that demonstrates the variety of your holdings and the value of your institution to the public.
- Make it personal. Does your institution hold any materials that have some personal bearing on your legislator?
- Remember that legislators are like anyone else: sometimes they don’t understand how valuable archives are until they see them in action.
- Before you schedule anything, be sure to ask your manager what the parameters for an event like this are. What are you allowed to do as a representative of your institution and should you be partnering with a development or communications official?
- Are there any programs at your institution to which you could invite your representative? Perhaps an exhibit opening that would provide a natural opportunity to show your legislator how your materials are used?