Like many of you, I frequently contact my legislative reps to voice my opinion. In the last few years, I’ve done so mostly by email simply because it’s quick and easy. The e-advocacy campaigns launched by the groups working on the issues I support are doing a great job of motivating me.
My complaint is this… I almost never hear back from my senators and US congressman. The senators never respond (to phone calls, emails or snail mail) at all. So I’m happy to report that Donald Payne, my congressman, has started to respond to me via email. His last response was actually pretty good. I felt he addressed my concerns, outlining his strategy for moving forward and validating my opinion. Here goes:
"Thank you for your letter regarding the alleged leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name by Karl Rove and Lewis I. "Scooter" Libby. I appreciate your views on this issue.
Two years ago, the Bush Administration avowed that Rove and Libby had no involvement in disclosing the name of Valerie Plame whose husband was a sharp critic of the Administration’s assertion that Iraq had sought to buy nuclear weapons-grade material in Niger, West Africa. Joseph C. Wilson IV, Plame’s husband, first privately then publicly, expressed his reservations about this allegation based on his CIA-funded trip to Niger in February 2002.
Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald recently indicted Mr. Libby on five charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and false statements and extended the grand jury on Mr. Rove. I fully support this inquiry and would call for the President to fulfill his promise by requiring Mr. Rove to step down from his post, if he is also indicted.
Thank you again for your letter. I hope you will contact my office in the future, if you have any questions or concerns."
Thanks for responding, Mr. Payne. But next time, include a salutation (even if it’s as generic as "Dear Constituent") and a signature ("Sincerely, Rep. Donald Payne). Those simple additions, which don’t even require personalization tools, would personalize your message, making it that more meaningful to me. Just good email etiquette.
Nonprofit communicators, I’m talking to you too. We’re frequently in too much of a rush to compose emails incorporating the niceties (salutations, full sentences rather than lists or bytes) that would improve their effectiveness. Not always necessary of course, if you’re communicating with folks many times daily, or with peers. But, as my mother once told me, "You can’t overdress for an interview."
Translation? Email etiquette never hurts, and often helps.
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