Making an Effective Phone Call
After visits and letters/e-mails, making a phone call is the most effective way to communicate your concern on an issue or raise a new issue. Legislators want to know the views of their constituents and how legislation will affect people in their district. In addition, legislators count the calls for and against a particular issue or bill. Often issues that were not on their “radar screens” become “red flags” when legislators receive calls, e-mails, letters, and visits from constituents.
Telephone calls also work well when a quick response is needed or a vote is imminent. Large numbers of calls can make a difference in the outcome of the vote. As few as 20 calls can make or break a vote. The goal of a call is to make your view known to the legislator and find out their stand on the issue. When making calls be sure to identify yourself as a constituent, keep the message on target and brief, and ask for a response.
Helpful Hints when Calling Your Elected Official
- Prepare a quick outline of talking points or script from your position paperto stay focused and brief. If you are asking others to do calls, make sure you send them talking points or a script.
- To call your legislator please visit: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/ to see who represents you.
- State your full name and address and why you are calling. Let it be known you are from the legislator’s home district.
- Ask for the legislator or the staff person who handles your issue. Remember, the staff briefs the legislator on important issues.
- Don’t hesitate to use personal stories to clarify your points. But be brief.
- Ask for a written reply (again give your full address).
Before making a call, write out what you want to say. A phone call can be timely and informal. It also can offer immediate answers to questions. Know the issue and the bill number, if one is available. Be prepared so you can confidently tell your story and ask for the change you want. A legislative staffer will answer the phone and will most likely ask if you are a constituent of the district. If you are not a constituent, be prepared to explain why you are calling and how the issue impacts you.
Below are two sample call scripts:
Sample Scheduling Call Script
Staffer: Senator X's office. How may I help you?
YOU: Hello, my name is NAME from CITY in the Senator’s district. I’m calling as a constituent and an MS activist [add your personal connection to MS] … and I’d to schedule a visit. Do you know when the Senator might be available to talk with me and a small group about the health care issues that are most important to us as constituents this year?
Staffer: The Senator is very busy. Are you looking at any particular day?
YOU: Our target days are DATES, but we can be flexible depending on the Senator’s schedule.
Staffer: Great. Let’s schedule a visit on …
YOU: Thank you for your time. We’re looking forward to it. If you need to reach me you can call me at PHONE or email me at EMAIL.
Sample MS Awareness Week / Issue Call Script
Staffer: Senator Smith’s office, how may I help you?
YOU: Hi, my name is NAME from CITY in the Senator’s district. This week we are celebrating Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week, and I’m calling to ask the Senator to support sound policies that benefit people living with multiple sclerosis in our state.
Staffer: Thank you for calling. What bill number are you referring to?
YOU: Instead of specific legislation, I’m simply asking for sound health care reform in the state … and sensible budget decisions that protect services that people living with MS and other disabilities rely on every day.
Staffer: I'll convey your message.
YOU: Could you tell the Senator that I am living with MS [PERSONAL STORY HERE], and this issue is important to me and other constituents? And please thank the Senator for me.
Staffer: I will. Thank you for calling.