Email a decision maker
It might seem like a quick and easy way to send a message. But when you email someone who’s in charge of important decisions and really busy, you need to carefully tailor your message.
Pick your target
Make sure that you’re sending the email to someone who has direct influence or takes responsibility. If the email isn’t relevant, there’s a chance that they won’t reply or even pass it on to the person who is responsible. Before sending the email, do some online research or ring the organisation to ask about the best person to contact for your issue.
If you don’t know where to address your letter or email, you won’t get far. Once you know who is responsible, you can ‘Google’ their name to find their contact details. Make sure that you’ve got the right person by reading their profile or doing a bit of phoning around.
Finding federal and state government contacts
To find the name of someone from a federal government department or the Commonwealth Parliament, search the Australian government directory (new window). Once you have their name, put it in the search button (top right corner) of the site to find their direct email. To find the contact details of state government representatives head to the Victorian Government contacts page (new window).
Finding out who represents your electorate
To find the name of the Member who represents your electorate, enter your postcode on the Australian Electoral Commission's Find site (new website). This will give you the name of your electorate so you can find the name of your electorate on the list of Members by electorate on the Federal Parliament's site (new website).
Make it personal
Nobody likes spam. Personalise the email and avoid sending group emails. Take the time and care to send a personal, specific message and it will have more power than a general email to many recipients. If you do send an email to more than one person, ensure everyone’s email addresses are in the CC field. You’re giving out email addresses without permission and risk intruding on privacy.
Use a good headline
The subject line is important. If you leave it blank your email could automatically be sent to spam or ignored completely. When you have a lot of email, you scan your inbox. Use the subject line to explain the key point of the email in a few meaningful words. If possible, put the name of any related legislation or policies in the subject line. If you call your email ‘comments’ it has a different impact to ‘Comments on …’.
Get to the point quickly
Emails are meant to be short and concise. Ideally, keep to around five sentences. Explain:
- Who you are
- What you want
- Why you should get it
- When you need it by
Remember your manners
Be polite. No one gets anywhere in life by being rude and arrogant especially in an email. It’s too easy for the receiver to hit the delete button without a second thought.
Make it easy to read
Don’t rant, it’s boring. Keep to the point and use plain language. Use bullets or subheadings if you have several points to make. Make the effort to translate your energy and passion into some calm and sensible sentences.
Show them you’re serious
You’ve got an opinion, you’ve done your research and you’re not just some kid doing a school project. Prove it. Attach examples of your work, web links, a poster about your event, media coverage, letters of support or research you’ve done. If there’s a relevant government policy, show that you know about it.
Check it, then check it again
Proofread the email, it’s so important. Cut and paste the text to a word processing program and print it off. Take a ten minute break then read it in a different room. Change the context you’re in and take some time out to pick up mistakes and tweak your language.
Do another check of the basics: the spelling of the name, the company, the title, the address. It shows that you’re taking the time to make it right and you’re someone who deserves a considered and respectful response.
Finish with style
End the email by thanking them for their time and ask for a reply. Sign the email with ‘Yours Sincerely’. Provide contact details, and don’t just assume a reply email. Include:
- Full name
- Contact phone/mobile number
Don’t forget the old school
It might be obvious, but don’t dismiss the power of a hand-written note. If your writing is clear and readable, take the time to draft and write a letter. Politicians and CEOs receive hundreds of emails a day and usually they have staff to manage their inbox. A personal, hand-written letter could get more attention.
Local Government Victoria - Site to assist you find your local council, councilors and their contact details.
Victorian Electoral Commission - State District Profiles - find out who represents you in your area in the Lower House, then go to the Members of the Legislative Council Victoria (see below) to find their contact details.
Members of the Legislative Council Victoria - For a full listing in alphabetical order of the members of the Lower House in the Victorian State Parliament.
Victorian Electoral Commission - State Region Profiles - find out who represents you in your area in the Upper House, then go to the Members of the Legislative Assembly Victoria (see below) to find their contact details.
Members of the Legislative Assembly Victoria - For a full listing in alphabetical order of the members of the Upper House in the Victorian State Parliament.