Ten Steps to Make Your Congressional Visit Successful
Check to see if your legislator is a known supporter of APhA issues.
If so, thank the member or staff for this support. Be as specific as possible. Don’t forget Members of Congress deal with hundreds of thousands of issues, so we want to make it as easy for them as possible.
Check to see if your legislator(s) serve(s) on any of the committees with jurisdiction over pharmacy-related issues.
Review your argument.
Keep your talk short, simple and to the point. Unless the legislator is on the right committee, don’t assume that he/she knows the issue. Stick to what you know, present the facts and stay on message, but don’t be afraid to give your opinion and examples from your practice.
Focus on the key issues.
It’s best to stick to one or two issues and not to lose focus. After you have discussed the main issues, wind up the meeting - don’t stay longer than 15-20 minutes maximum.
Always remain courteous.
Stay friendly even if the legislator or staff seems rushed and less than interested in your issue. Always leave on good terms even if the meeting was not fruitful.
Be specific in your request.
For example, after explaining a particular issue, ask “what is your position on HR 123?” “Will you be able to support this proposal?” Don’t be afraid to politely ask direct questions. For example, “What are your objections to this bill/proposal?” “What facts can I provide that might convince you to change your mind?”
Politicians are skillful at sounding supportive without making a specific commitment. Take note of the exact words that were used in response to your direct questions.
If the legislator is not available, talk to the staff member.
Make sure to record the name of the staff members who were present during the meeting or to whom you are introduced. Ask for their business cards.
Immediately after the meeting, make notes on what was discussed and what your legislator agreed to do.
Quote specific words used by the legislator or staff member. For example, “I will be glad to look into that bill” or “Yes, that should not be a problem”.
Follow-up with a thank-you letter that summarizes your understanding of what the legislator or staff agreed to do (if anything).
Make sure to reiterate the importance of the issue. Send a separate thank you note to the staff member.