What does it take to be a good advocate?
Advocating for mesothelioma is easier than you think! The key is to utilize available resources, be clear in what it is you are seeking, and be polite and persistent in your efforts. We are very excited that many of you will be making hill visits while you are inWashingtonfor the 2011 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma. Here are a few do’s and don’t for your visits!
DO’S AND DON’TS FOR LOBBYING YOUR US SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES
- Effective lobbying is all about building a good relationship with your Senators, Representative and their staff. To build that good relationship, always be as pleasant and professional as possible. Take the high road in developing your messages and your requests.
- Whether writing, e-mailing, calling or meeting personally with your Senator, Representative or a member of their staff, think through what you want to say so that you are prepared. Keep your message concise and personal. The power of your experience and the experiences of your loved ones regarding mesothelioma are immeasurable.
- Conclude your message with a clear, concise request for support of whatever legislation you’re lobbying for.
- Always express appreciation at the end of the message, conversation or meeting. Even if you’ve not gotten the response you want, a thank you for the time and interest you’ve been given is important.
- Senators and Representatives have very busy schedules – both in DC and back home. Do not be put off if you are referred to a staff member. The staff who work for US Senators and Representatives are their eyes and ears and play a significant role in their bosses’ decisions regarding positions on legislation. Sometimes it’s even better to meet with the staff – they may have more time and more background in this unique and scientific area.
- Threatening and/or arguing will not accomplish our goal of getting support. Should you start to get messages that aren’t what you were hoping for, regroup and consider other strategies – finding others to join you in your lobbying, considering other messages that might be more compelling, etc.
- Hesitancy to take a position is not uncommon and should not be viewed as a negative. For those unfamiliar with mesothelioma and the lethal risks of asbestos exposure, this is all new. Just keep involving others and generating messages of support!
- A “no” may not be final! With continued communication you may be able to change the mind(s) of those who just don’t get it – yet! Be pleasantly, patiently persistent!
- Jargon, especially medical jargon, can be very confusing and distracting. Do what you can to avoid it or to make it understandable.
- Don’t forget to say “thank you!” You’d be amazed at how rarely thanks are expressed and how grateful and impacted Senators, Representatives and their staff are when they receive a hand-written thank you.