Facebook buddy Kaylynne Karoly Memphis Holland shared this:
From Amy E. in another group but very helpful:
I’ve been reading some discouragement in my various action groups because folks are having a hard time getting a hold of their representatives (phones left off the hook, busy signal, etc).
Since I used to work as a newspaper reporter, I thought it may be helpful to share some tactics I used when trying to catch a politician who was avoiding me. Most these require a little time or effort, and are more aggressive than many of us are used to. Think of it as a personal challenge!
1. Call every number: Don’t ask if it’s better to call this office or that one… put them all in your phone contacts and just speed-dial down the list.
2. Call differently: If you get an endless loop of recorded menu items and a full mailbox, start dialing random extensions (try ‘0’ first). As soon as you get someone, take note of what extension worked. If they send you back to the same full mailbox, start calling them back directly and let them know it didn’t work. They will quickly realize that you are THEIR problem until they can pass you on to somebody else.
3. Call differently, another way: Find out if there is a different office or department housed in the same building. Call them, act confused and asked to be transferred to the Rep’s office. The point here is to make your call an internal transfer within their phone system. (I used to do this when a mayor’s office had blacklisted my phone number. Every day I’d call a different department, like waste management, and ask to be transferred. They always pick up for internal calls!).
4. Another way to call: Google the Rep’s name and find a recent press release. On it will be a number for press inquiries. Call them, and then simply say you are with a local group and trying to find the name & extension for the staffer responsible for your issue area (like healthcare, for example). Write it down, then ask to be transferred, like in #3.
5. Another idea: Check your local newspaper for the name of a reporter who has recently covered your Rep. Call them up (just call the newsroom and ask by name). Ask the reporter if they can recommend a good person who answers their phone at your Rep’s office, and a direct extension. Go ahead and mention that the Rep is receiving such an earful from the public that their main lines are all down. They might even write it up!
6. Show up to public meetings: The Indivisible guide has some excellent info on how to attend meetings and events, so I recommend reading it. But in addition, remember that there are often opportunities to talk one-on-one with your rep or their staff. After a meeting, they will usually be surrounded by a few buddies or other officials. Just stand in that group and wait your turn… it’ll be super awkward, but eventually they’ll make eye contact and you can jump in. (I once had to walk with the group all the way to the Rep’s minivan and be the last person standing with him in the parking lot, but eventually he DID acknowledge me.) Their staff may be easier to talk to, so introduce yourself and give those folks an earful, too.
7. Show up at their offices: Be super friendly, but firm. Like, “I was having trouble getting through on the phone line, and it’s really important to me that I register my opinion with [name of specific staff person].” Hold out and don’t just leave a message at the desk (“Thanks, but I’ll wait!”). If you have a really bad experience (like security kicks you out), call a local newspaper. They LOVE a fresh local angle on a national issue. (Note: If you’re going to showing up a lot, I recommend making friends with the receptionist! They can help you.)