By Carro Ford Weston March 31, 2006 -- Did you know you have a friend in Washington? Jennifer Bradey recently joined PIA/GATF as Manager of Grassroots and Political Affairs, and her mission is "to make printers more profitable by shaping legislation." This is a new role within the association, and a sign of PIA/GATF's commitment to increasing its presence on Capitol Hill. According to Bradey, her role is to "solidify our base of support among commercial printers, both through their active political participation and political contributions. Additionally, I serve as an industry representative on various pro-print, pro-business coalitions, and work to involve the PIA/GATF affiliate network in advocacy efforts." "We are re-vamping our government affairs efforts and reinvesting our members in political action," Bradey explained. "Our renewed vision of 'Raising the Political Power of Print', which we will unveil in the coming months, is part of an integrated plan combining political involvement, grassroots action and industry viability. Get Involved Note the term, "grassroots." That means you! And Bradey has plans to get you more involved. "In the coming months, we will be developing a 'Key Contact' program among our affiliates, and asking them to take a more prominent role than ever before in grassroots activism." PIA/GATF efforts are focused at the national level, but there are 29 affiliates to whom they offer counsel on state legislative initiatives. "We have a great core group of active grassroots volunteers who maintain great relationships with their lawmakers. As an association, it is incumbent upon us to facilitate more involvement and also to provide the tools necessary for our members. We hope to see increasing participation as we unveil our new grassroots resources that will make it easier than ever to get involved." There are a number of few things printers can do at the grassroots level: * Join your local PIA/GATF affiliate * Attend the June legislative conference in Washington, D.C. * Learn more about PrintPAC, the political action committee that contributes to candidates for office * Communicate with your lawmakers regarding legislation affecting your business. Resources are available at: * Participate in Town Hall meetings when your Congressman is back in your district * Write letters to editors of local media for increased political visibility in the community Member-driven Advocacy So how do they know what to lobby for? "Our advocacy is strictly member-driven," Bradey declared. "We hear the concerns of our member companies, represent them on Capitol Hill, and work to get them involved through writing their lawmakers, and other grassroots efforts. As both constituents and business owners, commercial printers have a huge stake in the legislative process. It is not enough to simply vote in an election, although that is of monumental importance. "We have again partnered with the U.S. Chamber's grassroots initiative, 'Vote for Business', for the 2006 election cycle. The goal to involve businesses in 'Get Out The Vote' efforts for pro-business campaigns this fall. I think our members will see great results and great exposure from this partnership." Brady also has a plan for bringing Capital Hill to you. "The 'Host a Facility Tour' is something we will begin focusing on in the coming year. Printers can invite a lawmaker to tour their facility and use their expertise to explain their products and processes. This is a mutually beneficial opportunity for both the business owner and the lawmaker, and we hope to launch these tours at numerous companies very soon. Interested individuals should contact me, and I would be happy to walk them through every step in the process." PULL QUOTE: The 'Host a Facility Tour' is a plan for bringing Capital Hill to the print shop floor. Do Something As we've seen in the news lately, there is a right way and a wrong way to influence the process of government, and Bradey knows a lot about the better way to lobby. "Being heard on Capitol Hill requires the collective voice of an educated group who communicate frequently and effectively through letters, phone calls, and a variety of other methods," she said. Bradey has a seasoned passion for her goal. "I think it's tremendously important for printers to take ownership of the political process now more than ever. One of my favorite political quotes is Hubert Humphrey's 'Government can do something to help you, or government can do something to hurt you, but government is going to do something.' What happens in Congress, despite how far removed it may seem from mainstream America, will affect the bottom line of a business. We must advocate to make sure that our interests are represented because no one else is going to do it for us --it's both our challenge and our opportunity. " A Grassroots Pro Bradey knows what she's talking about. She comes to PIA/GATF from the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. The NRA is consistently ranked by news journals and members of Congress as the Number One lobbying entity on Capitol Hill. "I served as a Grassroots Coordinator where I coordinated volunteer activity in 15 states and represented the association in public speaking engagements and debates nationwide. As a small part of a top-notch grassroots mobility campaign, I have witnessed effective grassroots power in action and am a firm believer that everyone can do something." "Admittedly, my new responsibilities are going to be tough. Politics is not often seen as the most interesting or transparent universe," she mused. "However, I've seen the success printers have already had on Capitol Hill, and from the members I've met thus far, I am very confident that we can strengthen that role. Doing More "We will be asking printers to do more than they have ever been asked –and that isn't always the fun job to have. We will be asking for people to give money, but equally important, we will be asking them to give their time. The thing to remember is that everyone can do something, and the political process is much less painful than many may realize. Once you take ownership in the process, it actually can be quite fun, not to mention beneficial." One of the ways she hopes to get printers involved is to begin an open dialogue with them and the Washington, D.C. office. "I look forward to meeting more of our members during this revitalization process. I want to hear from them," she declared. "We are here to represent them, so we need to know what's on their minds, both good and bad. It's going to be a big challenge, but based on past successes, it is definitely attainable. Our office in D.C. is always available to our members, and we love to hear their suggestions. I may be reached directly at (703) 519-8105 or via email at mailto:[email protected]" So now that you have a new friend in Washington, it's probably a good idea to stay in touch.