Mass office calling is a light lift, but it can actually have an impact. Tea Partiers regularly flooded congressional offices with calls at opportune moments, and Members of Congress noticed.
FIND THE PHONE NUMBERS FOR YOUR MEMBERS.
You can find your members of Congress and their office phone numbers at www.callmycongress.com.
PREPARE A SINGLE QUESTION PER CALL.
For in-person events, you want to prepare a host of questions, but for calls, keep it simple. You and your group should all agree to call in on one specific issue that day. The question should be about a live issue — e.g., a vote that is coming up, a chance to take a stand or some other time-sensitive opportunity. The next day or week, pick another issue and call again on that.
- Ask to speak to the staffer who handles the issue (immigration, health care, etc.). Junior staff are usually directed to not tell you who this is, and instead just take down your comment.
- On a different day, call and ask whoever answers the phone, “Hi, can you confirm the name of the staffer who covers [immigration/healthcare/etc.]?” Staff will generally tell you the name. Say “Thanks!” and hang up. Ask for the staffer by name when you call back next time.
FIND OUT WHO YOU’RE TALKING TO.
In general, the staffer who answers the phone will be an intern, a staff assistant, or some other very junior staffer in the Member of Congress office. But you want to talk to the legislative staffer who covers the issue you’re calling about. There are two ways to do this:
IF YOU’RE DIRECTED TO VOICEMAIL, FOLLOW UP WITH EMAIL.
Then follow up again. Getting more-senior legislative staff on the phone is tough. The junior staffer will probably just tell you “I checked, and she’s not at her desk right now, but would you like to leave a voicemail?” Go ahead and leave a voicemail, but don’t expect a callback. Instead, after you leave that voicemail, follow up with an email to the staffer. If they still don’t respond, follow up again. If they still don’t respond, let the world know that theMember of Congress office is avoiding you.
Congressional emails are standardized, so even if the Member of Congress’s office won’t divulge that information, you can probably guess it if you have the staffer’s first and last name.
- Senate email addresses: For the Senate, the formula is: StafferFirstName_StafferLastName@MoCLastName.senate.gov. For example, if Jane Doe works for Senator Roberts, her email address is likely “Jane_Doe@roberts.senate.gov”
- House email addresses: For the House, the formula is simpler: StafferFirstName.StafferLastName@mail.house.gov. For example, if Jane Doe works in the House, her email address is likely “Jane.Doe@mail.house.gov”
KEEP A RECORD OF THE CONVERSATION.
Take detailed notes on everything the staffer tells you. Direct quotes are great, and anything they tell you is public information that can be shared widely. Compare notes with the rest of your group, and identify any conflicts in what they’re telling constituents.
REPORT BACK TO MEDIA AND YOUR GROUP.
Report back to both your media contacts and your group what the staffer said when you called.