Plan a Visit
Schedule the visit: Call or email the district office of your Member of Congress to set up an appointment with the Member of Congress or staff from the office. If you are in Washington, DC, schedule a visit there. (See House and Senate legislative calendars to determine the best timing.) Explain that you are a constituent who is interested in meeting with the Member or her staff to discuss the importance of federal support for political science. See COSSA's Advocacy Handbook for more specifics on requesting a meeting.
Have reasonable expectations: You may receive a short meeting with staff and not the Member. This is not a sign of disrespect; staffers are trained to take notes and communicate with the Member about the issues.
Prepare: You may need to inform the staffer or Member about the issues, so be prepared with concise talking points and relevant materials. Prepare your core message in advance. Use APSA's talking points for messages connected to political science funding and develop your own message connected to your specific research. A one-page handout that is easy to read is also helpful. Be sure to bring business cards.
See the tools and tips page from APSA's Public Engagement Program for more information on crafting a message and preparing one-pagers.
Make a Visit
Arrive early: Plan for time to pass through security and to find the appropriate room. Long lines are common at Senate and House office buildings in Washington.
Keep it brief: Lead with your main points.
Take your cues: In some cases, your meeting may be a back-and-forth conversation with the elected official or staffer. In other cases, you may be expected to lead the conversation. If this is the case, use your time to convey your key points concisely, include any requests, and thank the Member or staffer for her time.
Explain broad effects: While not all political scientists receive federal grants, it is useful to note the broader impact of basic research funding for the social sciences.
Follow up: After your meeting, send a thank you note via email to the staffer or Member you met with. Provide any follow-up materials you think might be useful.