PPAI encourages its members to reach out to their local legislators to educate them about the promotional products industry and what it brings to the community. The August recess is an excellent opportunity to make this connection, as members of Congress and their staffs are typically back in their home districts.
PPAI’s staff has taken advantage of the recess and set a number of their own appointments this August. It was a chance to speak with Representatives and their staffs about the promotional products industry and the myriad business—large and small—that it represents.
Above: Representative Kenny Marchant (Second from left) at his office with (From left) PPAI Awards Manager Carol Gauger, Public Relations Manager Kim Todora and CFO Bob McLean.
On Tuesday, August 16, PPAI Public Relations Manager Kim Todora, Association CFO Bob McLean, Awards Manager Carol Gauger and Public Affairs Specialist Eme Alberico met with Representative Kenny Marchant of Texas’ 24th district.
McLean appreciated that the congressman used promotional products and believed in their value, and that an earlier visit he’d made was still making an impression. “I was impressed when Rep. Marchant proudly displayed the promotional eyeglass cloth/business card that I gave him last year,” McLean says. “He told us that he kept it right on his desk, and he used it every day. Of course, I gave him another for his office in Washington, D.C. This truly shows the staying power of promotional products.
“As with last year,” McLean says, “Marchant stressed his small-business background and long-standing support for our members and our industry, which is largely made up of small businesses.”
Marchant’s interest in the promotional products industry made a strong impression on his visitors from PPAI. Gauger says: “It was refreshing to see an elected official with a long career in public service have such a high level of interest in his constituency. He was anxious to meet with others in our industry.”
Above: Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s district director, Rod Givens (Second from right), with (From Left) PPAI Public Affairs Specialist Eme Alberico, PPB Associate Editor Tama Underwood and Sara Besly, manager for the Promotional Products Education Foundation.
One week later, on Tuesday, August 23, Sara Besly, manager for the Promotional Products Education Foundation; PPB Associate Editor Tama Underwood and Alberico met with Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas’ 30th Congressional district, and visited with her district director, Rod Givens.
“It was a great experience to advocate on behalf of the promotional products industry,” says Besly. “It was exciting and empowering to take part in the democratic process that makes America such a great country. Our meeting was with the district director, but while we were there, Congresswoman Johnson arrived just off a plane from Washington, D.C. By simply asking the District Director to convey our thanks to the Congresswoman for supporting the consumer product safety relief, we were able to meet her and tell her thanks in person.”
PPAI came away from the meeting feeling that a connection had been made with the Congresswoman’s office. “Meeting Representative Johnson was great,” says Underwood, “and the member of staff with whom we met was attentive and sympathetic to our cause. He took notes and actively searched for ways we could help each other. It felt like the beginning of a real working relationship.”
Above: Mike Garcia, district director for Congressman Jeb Hensarling (Right), with PPAI’s Director of Member and Regional Relations, Michele Packard-Milam, CAE.
That same day, Michele Packard-Milam, CAE, PPAI’s director of member and regional relations, and Anne Lardner-Stone, the Association’s director of public affairs, met with Mike Garcia, district director for Congressman Jeb Hensarling, representing Texas’ 5th Congressional district.
“I was impressed with the time and focus Mike gave us,” says Packard-Milam. “He really understood the value of the industry to the economy in the Congressman’s district and the negative impact of burdensome regulations. Mike connected with the particular challenges of small businesses in a highly regulated environment.”
These meetings proved constructive opportunities for PPAI’s staff to meet with their members of Congress and their staffs. They put a human face to an industry that represents a vibrant part of the business environment and laid the groundwork for future communications, helping ensure that the promotional products industry’s voice is heard in the halls of Washington, D.C. PPAI staff have scheduled further visits with legislators and will encourage and assist industry members to set meetings of their own.