Strength In Numbers
30. 81.250. 1,000. These numbers are not just data points or talking points of a job well done. They tell a broader story of leadership, commitment, tenacity and creativity. These characteristics and more define the type of LEADers who participated in PPAI’s annual Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) in May. These LEADers were able to achieve these numbers with little more than hard work and commitment to their industry and their profession.
It’s sometimes easy to get lost in the larger picture. 2015 was a record year for the promotional products industry, which reached $20.8 billion in sales. It’s an amazing accomplishment, and certainly a worthwhile number to share, but behind that number are the people driving an industry to reach new heights. You may not realize it, but every day-to-day transaction you’re making is advocating for the promotional products industry.
For 30 percent who attended L.E.A.D. this year, it was their first time to participate—myself included. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous. But while new experiences can sometimes be intimidating, it was a relief to see all the attendees’ excitement and commitment to advocacy while sharing the issues that matter most to the promotional products industry with their elected officials.
Seeing the 81 individuals who participated in L.E.A.D. reminded me of my previous work in the Texas Legislature. One of the many hats I wore involved partnering with individuals, businesses and associations to support the elected official or build support for a particular piece of legislation. The best part of this work was the people behind these coalitions who were willing to volunteer their time and resources to achieve a common goal. This undoubtedly was my favorite part of L.E.A.D. and a great introduction to the many committed individuals behind such a creative and versatile industry.
With approximately 250 meetings completed with senators, representatives and their staffs, our LEADers maximized the number of opportunities to advocate for the promotional products industry. This hard work and commitment was matched only by those who participated in the virtual fly-ins to echo the message our LEADers were sharing on Capitol Hill.
Throughout L.E.A.D., held during Promotional Products Work! Week, members participating in the virtual fly-in sent approximately 1,000 emails to their legislators which gave those who didn’t attend L.E.A.D. an opportunity to echo our message and maximize our presence on Capitol Hill. Calls to action, whether during L.E.A.D. or at any other time, show the versatility of advocacy while at the same time limiting our excuses for not engaging with our elected officials whom we sometimes deem inaccessible.
While L.E.A.D. may be over for this year, the need for continued advocacy still remains. Minimal progress at the federal level creates perfect opportunities for state-based legislative initiatives to come into the fold. With this comes the need for our industry to be proactive in sharing the importance of the promotional products industry with our local elected officials.
Continued engagement with our elected officials, whether local or federal, is paramount to the success of our message of the importance of the promotional products industry. July 15 marks the summer recess for Congress and an opportunity to invite your federal and local representative to visit your office or tour your warehouse, all in an effort to share your story.
PPAI has already made great strides though the L.E.A.D. Local initiative in an effort to share the importance of the promotional products industry at the state level. This important advocacy tool is something I hope to build on and empower our regional leadership to effectively execute in the near future.
For me, advocacy takes on more of a meaning than just its dictionary definition. To support a cause or issue, you have to understand not just the issue, but the people affected by it. I just recently began my new role here at PPAI and it wasn’t until L.E.A.D. that I had the opportunity to meet the individuals with whom I had been communicating to truly get a sense of who I was advocating for.
L.E.A.D. involved just fraction of the people who make up the promotional products industry but represented the thousands of individuals I will take pride in working for through my role as PPAI’s government relations manager.
Reach Joseph Landeros at JosephL@ppai.org or 972-258-3015. Find details on legislative advocacy here.