As a Patient Leader, it’s critically important to share your views and, most importantly, your personal story and experience to influence public policy.
In fact, influencing public policy is a necessary and effective way of truly impacting your disease community.
By working with legislation, you have the power to make big changes in your community- whether it’s passing a law, making a personal connection with a representative, or telling your story on a meaningful stage!
What is legislative advocacy?
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia defines legislative advocacy as, “Almost anything done to influence a legislator’s position on legislation or public policy.”
Whether writing letters, making phone calls, speaking with legislators or testifying before committees- all of these actions fall under legislative advocacy. It can be looked at as a way for Patient Leaders to translate their community concerns into policies and laws.
Advocacy seeks to ensure that people can:
- Have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives
- Defend and safeguard their rights
- Have their own voice heard on issues that are important to them
Forms of Legislative Advocacy
As said earlier, legislative advocacy entails contacting a legislator, sharing your views on a particular issue and asking them to take action. There are typically three main forms of contacting legislators. You can do so by:
- Calls and voicemails
- Letters and email
- Personal visits
Like anything, each form of contact has its own pros and cons. While sometimes you only have the ability to perform one form of legislative advocacy, you may be wondering if its beneficial to complete all three forms. Or, if you do choose just one form, what is your best, most impactful move?
Let’s dive a little deeper into these three options…
1. Calls and Voicemails
You don’t necessarily need to visit Capitol Hill to start making an impact in legislative advocacy. Simply calling your legislators via phone can still be a powerful way to start the conversation and don’t be afraid to leave a voicemail or follow up with additional phone calls.
If you know who your representative is but you are unable to locate a contact number, the Clerk of the House maintains addresses and phone numbers of all House members and Committees. If that doesn’t prove fruitful, you can call (202) 224-3121 for the U.S. House switchboard operator.
2. Emails and Letters
Though it’s not always the most effective form of legislative advocacy, emails can be leveraged by advocates with limited time. Letters are also a more personal way to get your legislators’ attention and can be very effective if large groups of individuals begin mailing them in.
Again, if you are unable to locate a legislator’s address via their contact form, the Clerk of the House maintains addresses and phone numbers of all House members and Committees, or you may call (202) 224-3121 for the U.S. House switchboard operator.
3. Personal Visits
Personal visits may be the strongest form of legislative advocacy if advocates are willing and able to travel. It does take more, time, travel and energy, so that’s something to take into consideration, but it can be a very powerful way to get your legislators’ attention.
No matter what form of legislative advocacy you choose, it’s vital your advocacy pitch is effective, compelling and concise.
So how can you craft the perfect pitch to impact your legislators?
Take this free, online course to find out how!
This course is designed to help you understand exactly what legislative advocacy entails and the various ways you can be an advocate and lobbyist. By the end of this course, you’ll discover how to effectively craft your personal health story in relation to public policy so that you can start making a bigger impact.
- Learn about advocacy and its various forms
- Discover tips for telling your patient story in a concise way
- Master The Sixty Second Advocate- for advocacy, for media, for public speaking
- Prepare and share your Sixty-Second Advocate pitch
Ready to take your advocacy to Capitol Hill? Take the free, online course now!