Hi, everybody ~ I'm cross-posting this at
working2walk.wordpress.com; hopefully it will reach the maximum # of people someway or another.

In the ballroom, and believe me it was an effort to get everybody to stop schmoozing and roll down here for opening remarks. The speaker is a woman named Phyllis Gray from Kennedy Kreiger . . she’s saying

“Most of the important things have been accomplished by people who kept on trying when there was no hope at all.”

Marilyn Smith, (class act extraordinaire!) gets up and starts off with the housekeeping rules . . . cell phones, where to register, what’s in your bag, where to go for the breakout sessions. The plan this year is to have each of the speakers do their thing twice, but even so we’ve had to choose four sessions from a possible seven.

Credit to the sponsors of w2w, who make this possible — Kennedy Kreiger, Sci-Step, NWI Spinal Cord Injury Group, Novartis, Acorda, National Rehab Hospital, Sam Schmidt Foundation, Alseres Pharmaceutical, Pride Mobility Products Corporation, Center for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery, Integra Foundation, Restorative Therapies, Medtronic, Project Walk, Bioness, Craig Hospital, Push to Walk, Boston Medical Center, Next Steps Chicago, Determined2Heal . . . I mention all of them by name because they handed over dough to make this thing happen.

Marilyn is talking about the first rally 4 years ago, which began with a tape of Bob Marley singing “Get Up, Stand Up, Stand Up for Your Rights!” She says that she looked at her new friend Sue Maus, who was in tears. Sue asked her to wipe her face. Marilyn says she’s working for the day when Sue can wipe her own eyes.

She introduces Sean Tipton, former president of CAMR. He’s got a slide show and the title slide is up:

Successful Advocacy

He starts with the Why and How . . . the first amendment says we as citizens get to come to Washington and bitch! This begins with registering to vote, then actually doing it. Slide is an image of guy in a chair entering a polling place. The politicians are not going to do stuff for us just because it’s right. They should, but they won’t. Next is — $$$$. Shouldn’t matter, but really, really does. He says he knows that for lots of us it’s distateful, but it’s also important to understand that it matters.

What else? Show up. There are town hall meetings, there is the postal service, there are telephones, and of course there is email. We should definitely be getting the personal emails from the congressional staff we speak with this week.

What happens when you visit Capitol Hill? He recommends keeping track of the “4 R’s”:

Relax. (And don’t be taken aback by the fact that some aides seem to be about 12 years old. They’re probably the smartest, hardest-working young people you’re going to run across.)

Respect. (These people are certainly doing you a favor by giving you some of their time. Don’t waste it.)

Remember: (Their names, the vibe you get from them–write things down.)

Relationships: (DC runs on relationships. Build them. Keep those email addresses and use them to say thanks for their time. Don’t assume that the person you’re talking with can’t really help you. They probably can.)

During your visit, use your personal stories. The fact that you’re in a chair is going to make a big impression. Members of congress might see only 2 people in chairs all year long. They’re going to want to talk to you. Facts are important, but –amazingly–anecdotes matter more. You can make a difference by telling your story. Help the staffer out . . . their job is going to be to write up a summary of your meeting. Make it clear who you are and what you want. They EXPECT you to make a specific request, so do it.

Be prepared to ask for exactly what you want. (Later this weekend we’re going to get the specific legislative agenda this conference is supporting.)

New topic: Working with the media: subtitle Congressmen Love Cameras

The press can move congressmembers sometimes more effectively than the usual tactics. So, how do you get the attention of the press? Personal interest is hard to make into news. (My story is sad = so what.) But things can be news, like us coming here. Relationships matter, facts matter — you can lie to a member of the press exactly one time. Don’t do it.

Where to start? You can initiate: issue a press release, write a letter to the editor, especially a positive one if your member of congress has done what you asked. This is a very big deal to members of congress, and they will not forget you if you manage to get it into the paper. Follow up on your press release. Call and email reporters.

If you get an interview with a reporter, you get 3 –maybe 4–points to make. The way to make this happen is draw yourself a box. It has 4 sides, and on each side is one of your points. No matter what they ask you, go to one of your 4 answers. You might get 15 seconds, which is why you have to be ready with quick, succinct, non-jargony things to say. If you’re doing a phone interview, imagine yourself standing up. This is formal, not casual. Be careful and precise with what you say.

Ends with a Frederick Douglass quote: Those who profess to favor feedom, and yet depracate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.

stipton@asrm-dc.org 202 863-2494

Great job, serious guy with a ton of experience in this town. Off to the breakouts!