Writing your lawmakers can be a time consuming and arduous task. If you try the old trick of sending email to yourself and adding your lawmakers to the BCC line, there's a very good chance that email will go directly into their spam folder. Alternately you can put everyone on the TO line, however this is also likely to send that email to their spam folder. Additionally you cannot personalize the emails to them and are stuck with a "To Whom it May Concern" intro, which is unlikely to sway anyone.
This tutorial will show you how to use Outlook's "mail merge" function to quickly send bulk emails that contain a personalized greeting to the lawmaker in question and will deliver individual emails to their account through one easy bulk action
In order for this to work you need two things:
- You need to have Outlook set up on your computer. You can use Outlook on your desktop with your web mail providers too! So you can set up your Gmail, Yahoo, etc. accounts to work with Outlook. I have Outlook set up with my Gmail account
- You need to have the list of people you want to email in your Outlook contacts. In addition to their names and email addresses, I highly recommend also adding their Title (eg. Representative or Senator) and adding the committee they are on to the Department field. This will make it easy in the future to filter your contacts to send email to a specific committee. I also recommend adding a contact for yourself and including it in your mail merge so that way you can verify that your emails were sent and delivered
How To Do It
Step 1: Open Outlook and go to your contacts. Select the contacts you want to email. If the contacts are all grouped together, you can click one, hold down the SHIFT key and hit the down arrow till they are all selected. If the contacts are non-contiguous you can hold down the CTRL key and select each name
Step 2: Select "Mail Merge". You will get a pop up. Verify that the following looks like this and click OK:
Step 3: Write your letter. Include the initial greeting "To the Honorable Representative/Senator " at the top
Step 4: Add the personalized greeting. Go back to your title line and make sure you click just after your greeting such as "To the Honorable Representative |" and click the "Greeting Line" box:
You will get a pop up that lets you customize your greeting. Since you've already included an initial greeting line, you don't need to have another greeting added, so select the drop down for the greeting and set it to none. You will see an example from your mail merge fields that you can click through to make sure everything looks good. Ignore the "Mr. Randall" thing, that's just an example:
If everything looks good, click 'OK'
Step 5: Make sure it looks right. You should now see the addition of <<GreetingLine>> in your document. Make sure its in the right place. If it's not, delete it and repeat step 4
Looks good? Go to step 6
Step 6: Sending the email. You should now click the "Finish and Merge" button. A drop down will appear and you need to click on 'Send Email Messages'
When the dialog box comes up, add the title to your email:
From there, click OK to send email
Step 7: Verifying email got sent. You now have supposedly sent your emails, but we want to make sure they actually went out. If you included your own contact in the mass mail, you should get an email from you to that account. You can so check your sent messages folder to verify that mail has been sent as well:
And look, I got an email to my other address that I had included in my Mail Merge
This is actually pretty quick to set up and let's you send professional, personalized, emails to your lawmakers. Once you have your contacts set up, sending out mass email will take you less time than it took me to write this post!