Writing to candidates

                 Museums and the election - Meeting candidates
                       Writing to candidates - Doorstep canvassing
Marginal constituencies - What not to do - After the election
                                                        Finding out more
The vast majority of letters and emails received by MPs and PPCs are casework and not policy-related.

However, a handful of letters and e-mails pressing strongly for action on a topic can influence politicians, particularly in the run-up to an election.

You could consider using your friends’ newsletter to provide a short briefing on the election and to encourage members to write to candidates.

Written correspondence should be clear, concise and targeted in order to have the greatest impact.

While museums should consider making direct contact with individual PPCs in their area, the most effective sorts of communication are:

· Written by a local constituent from a personal standpoint, expressing enthusiasm for museums and requesting the candidate’s support for helpful and positive policy changes.

· From your friends, your board or your volunteers - not paid staff who are seen to have a vested interest in an organisation’s future prosperity. Email, the internet and social media make communication simpler and provide easy access to information. As a result, it has never been easier to marshal the support of these, and other, groups.

· From members of the public who visit, enjoy and appreciate your museum.

Questionnaires are useful for finding out what local candidates think of issues affecting your museum, and the wider museum sector.

Questionnaires should be sent to all candidates by groups or individuals based within the constituency.

They should contain a maximum of eight questions and should avoid complexity and leading questions, both of which will discourage candidates from replying.

When designing a questionnaire, space should be allocated for the constituent’s name and contact details, as well as those of the candidate.

Careful consideration should be given before asking for specific commitments from candidates, e.g. opposing proposed funding cuts.

Candidates are likely to be cautious about making firm commitments, especially where they relate to public spending.

Examples of useful questions might be:

· Do you support the museum’s plan to……?

· What do you think the museum contributes to the local community?

· What do you personally value about the museum?

Ensure that the questionnaires make their way back to you promptly.

If the replies are positive you may want to release them to the local media and key stakeholders.

Do not attempt to summarise the candidates’ views yourself or you could unwittingly misrepresent or offend them.

Downloads

Museums and the election (pdf)