[Air-l] political email effectiveness vs. telephones

Alicia A McBride aam2 at u.washington.edu
Mon Jul 7 10:19:01 PDT 2003

> Call your Congressional representatives and demand that they support the =
> rollback.  One phone call from a constituent is more effective than scores =
> of email petitions.>>>
> I wonder if they say that intuitively, or based on evidence?
> Ildiko Kaposi

I used to work for a political advocacy organization, and we always went back and forth on whether to ask people to call or email.  We heard repeatedly from congressional offices that telephone calls were much more effective than email, because it took more effort on the part of the consituent.  According to what we heard, hand-written letters have the most weight (although that might have changed since the anthrax scare), then phone calls, then email and faxes.  But it was much easier to generate large amounts of email than to generate a similar number of telephone calls or hand-written letters.  Also, it varies considerably from office to office.  Some offices are well set-up to deal with email, while others aren't.

We generally encouraged people to email in order to get them over the fear of actually contacting their elected officials, particularly when the issue wasn't urgent.  When the issue was more time-sensitive or had larger potential repercussions, we asked people to call.  These decisions were based more on instinct than research, though.

Alicia McBride
Graduate Student, Technical Communication
University of Washington

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