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How to write an advocacy letter

1.  Remember that an advocacy letter is also a business letter. Address it correctly both in the letter and on the envelope. State elected officials should be addressed as “The Honorable” in the inside address block, and then by their title in the greeting (i.e., The Honorable George Jones, Dear Senator Jones). During the legislative session mail or e-mail letters to their legislative office address. Outside the sessin, send letters or e-mails to their home addresses.

2.  In your first few lines, get to the point. Within the first paragraph, tell them what you want (“Vote for SB 100” or "Kansas needs more funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs) and why (“because it will save lives” or "it will improve health").

3.  Tell your story. Your position will be much more effective  if you can provide a personal story (“I know the ravages of tobacco use because. . .”).  Sometimes a mere recitation of facts does not make an impression, but a story of a real situation can touch the heart and the minds of those who hear it.  Facts are important, but it is the stories that legislators may remember.

4.  Don't get sidetracked. Make sure that you have your main points in mind and don't bring in other topics or alternatives. You may be able to write a follow up letter, but don’t do that too frequently. Policymakers may disregard correspondence that is frequent and repetitive, especially from someone they don't know and particularly if it from someone that is not in their legislative district.

5.  Keep it short. If possible, no more than a single page. But avoid using tiny type or narrow margins to crowd things in.  Having a clearly understood, easy-to-read letter has a better chance of being reviewed.

6.  Always Include your name and contact information. This should include address and telephone number and maybe your email address in case the policy maker wishes to respond or ask for additional information.  Your home address can establish you as a constituent who may actually be someone who will vote for the policy maker in the next election. 

 You can locate the name of your legislators by connecting with the interactive map at the KU Institute of Policy and Social Research.  If you know the name of your legislators but not the contact information, click on Kansas Legislature's House  Members link or the Senate Members link for phone, email and address. 

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