How to Be an Effective Advocate
As an advocate, you will be a key influencer helping to spread the message of the importance of compounding pharmacists and access to customized medications. You will have access to information and resources that will give you the tools you need to communicate and share our message. You may want to write or call an elected official, write an editorial for your local newspaper, attend a meeting or help mobilize others - your role as advocate could be many things. What’s most important is that you take action.
Remember everyone plays an important role in moving this issue forward. You should feel comfortable communicating with elected officials, regulators, your colleagues and friends on any issue you may have, including compounding pharmacy issues. Whether you’re communicating with an elected official or one of their staff members - in writing, by phone, or in person - there are some essential guidelines to follow.
- Introduce Yourself—Provide your name, say where you live, and describe your point of view; e.g., a compounding pharmacist, a patient who depends on compounded treatments, a prescriber of compounded medications, a concerned parent or family member, etc.
- Be Direct About the Purpose of Your Communication—Tell your official exactly which issues you are concerned with.
- Provide Evidence—Highlight your own story and share key facts about the benefits of compounding pharmacies.
- Be Respectful—You can be firm and express strong feelings, but be sure to remain polite with elected officials and their staff.
- Be Brief Keep your letter or email to key points and focus on a single issue. Generally, your letter should be no longer than two pages.
- Make a Request—Ask your official to take a specific action.
- Ask for a Response—Politely request that your official respond and share his or her position.
- Prepare Your Message—You do not have to read from a script, but it’s a good idea to collect your thoughts before you call and even jot down a few “talking points.”
- Speak Slowly and Clearly—Especially if you’re leaving a voice mail message, remember to speak clearly and not too fast.
- State Your Topic and Ask to Speak to the Appropriate Staff Member—After you state your name and location, explain what issue you are calling about and ask to speak to the staff member who handles this issue.
- Be Brief—Especially if you are leaving a voice mail message, be direct and concise.
- Provide Your Contact Information—Leave your phone number and email so that your legislator can respond.
- Schedule Well in Advance and Confirm Your Meeting—Legislators have very busy schedules that change frequently. Schedule your meeting—whether at a district or main office—by telephone at least two weeks in advance. Confirm your meeting a day or two before as well. Keep in mind that your meeting may be rescheduled or cut short.
- Be Prepared—Be relaxed, be yourself, and be prepared. Know what you’re going to say and be ready with information and examples.
- Be Concise and Flexible—Stick to your key points and recognize that you may only have ten or fifteen minutes to talk. Sometimes, officials will engage in longer, in-depth conversations, but often they must keep to a tight schedule.
- Follow-Up with a Thank You Letter—Send a brief letter (or email) thanking your legislator and reiterating your main points.