Grassroots Efforts That Work

Hill staffers tell which legislative outreach methods get noticed.

Associations employ a variety of methods to make sure legislators are aware of their membership's or industry's concerns. But which ones actually have influence? Last fall the Congressional Management Foundation conducted a survey of U.S. House and Senate staffers to find out which kinds of outreach are most appealing. Here are the top-five influencers according to the research.

In-person visits from constituents:

A lot of positive influence:

46%

Some influence:

97%
Contact from constituents' representative:

A lot of positive influence:

36%

Some influence:

96%
Individualized postal letters:

A lot of positive influence:

20%

Some influence:

90%
Individualized email messages:

A lot of positive influence:

19%

Some influence:

88%
Telephone town-hall comments:

A lot of positive influence:

17%

Some influence:

85%

What doesn't get a congressional staffer's attention? Form faxes are the weakest method: Only 30 percent said they carried some influence. Comments on social media are similarly unimpressive: Only 41 percent said they carried some influence, and just 1 percent said they had a lot of positive influence.