Study finds personal touch important when conveying messages to Congress

WASHINGTON: Most groups rely on mass e-mail and form letters to bring their messages to legislators, but campaigns that lack a personal touch are least likely to resonate.

WASHINGTON: Most groups rely on mass e-mail and form letters to bring their messages to legislators, but campaigns that lack a personal touch are least likely to resonate.

This is just one of the findings from a study that is expected to be released in mid-July, and will help grassroots groups improve their communications with Congress.

The non-profit Congressional Management Foundation (CMF), which helps the legislative branch better manage itself, compiled the data through focus groups and interviews with Congressional staffers.

CMF deputy director Brad Fitch noted that the study would almost serve as a "how-to kit" on what gets attention and what doesn't.

"The more interactive and the more individualized the contact is, the more impact it will have," said John Jameson, president of Winning Connections, the study's sponsor, which helps groups target their campaigns toward Congress.

"Large numbers of communications from constituents can have a big impact on a [legislator] if the office is convinced that the person that sent it cares about the issue," he added.

Jameson noted that, in his experience, most groups and agencies take the wrong approach.

"PR firms would be better off spending money on higher-level personal contacts," he said. "Coaching and phone calls are very potent, but only if the constituents ? understand the message they should deliver."

The results of the study will be available on the CMF website.

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