Lobby 101 (and Messaging) Guide* Personal Presentation, Attitude & Etiquette
- Dress professionally as if you are going to a job interview
- Absolutely no jeans, shorts, tank tops, flip flops, ball caps etc….
- If you have tattoos (or unusual piercings) have them covered as best you can and/or take
them out for our more conservative lawmakers. We wouldn’t put this here if we hadn’t
seen people stereotyped and dismissed for these (including ourselves)
- Get plenty of sleep the night before to look and feel refreshed
- Research who you are meeting with to see if you have other issues in common (i.e. prior
bills they’ve worked on that you support, mutual friends or family, mutual hobbies, etc…). Start with a thank you for your leadership on _______ which is also an important issue to me and mention any connections you might have.
- Be respectful and have a pleasant and positive attitude
- You’ll likely only have a few minutes to speak. Use the time wisely
- Do not ever lose your temper, roll your eyes at, or insult staff or elected officials if they
say something you don’t agree with. Respectfully agree to disagree and ask if you can
send factual follow-up information as to why you don’t see eye to eye with them
- Never say “As a taxpayer I deserve…..” Say something like “As your constituent I hope
you will consider this issue as seriously as I, and many of your constituents do.”
- Always use the correct title: Congressman/Congresswoman or Senator.
- Say “Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about an issue so important I
wanted to discuss it in person.”
- No need to apologize for taking their time if you are brief and to the point. Some staff and
elected officials may give you 5 minutes, some may give you 15-30
- Don’t take kratom in front of them or offer them kratom (unless, for example, you have
brewed a mild tea beforehand and the office has expressed interest in trying it; check FIRST).
Be Prepared: Make an Information Packet
- Make 3-4 copies of a small information packet to hand out to staff and the elected official (they do not have time to read a lot of materials)
- Packet should contain no more than 4 ITEMS. We recommend:
o 1 color picture of the kratom leaf so they know it’s not a synthetic drug (for you to
show them, not give them unless they want to keep it)
o 1 factsheet (see www.americankratom.org/aka_fact_sheet)
o 1 reputable, mainstream press piece on our side and 1 scientific study (see AKA’s
recent news and science sections. No more than a few pages each)
o 1 personal or family testimony. 1 page MAX. Include your Name, Age, occupation
and contact information for follow up. Make sure you are not making ANY
treatment claims; emphasize only that kratom has helped to improve your health
- Know the material you are passing out to the best of your ability
- Prepare your 1-2 min. testimony. Practice it out loud.
- Know exactly what you are asking them to do and try to get a commitment (vote against
Bill #___, contact the DEA asking them not to emergency schedule kratom, etc.)
Words that should NOT be used/avoided & substitution words
Words not to say in conjunction with kratom (depending on context):
o Drug, opioid, high, legal high, use, user, addictive, heroin, withdrawal, dealer,
intoxicated, habit forming, vendor, toss and wash, K2, Spice, adulterated, head
shop, euphoria, cure or treatment
Examples using substituted words (key words capitalized)
o One does not USE kratom or is a kratom USER, they TAKE or CONSUME it
o One does not get WITHDRAWALS after taking kratom but stopping long-term daily
use abruptly could cause some DISCOMFORT just like with its family member
o “I become more FOCUSED and MOTIVATED when I TAKE kratom” (as opposed
to saying EUPHORIC or INTOXICATED). Instead say I get a GENERAL SENSE
o The Kratom PLANT is an HERB that has been traditionally consumed for 100’s of
o Kratom does not CURE OR TREAT any maladies (disease, illness etc.), it aids in
promoting health and well-being
o Note that if you have reason to use the “avoided words” split them into separate
sentences: “I was a HEROIN ADDICT and it left my life in shambles physically, mentally and financially. HOWEVER, the kratom PLANT has helped me make great changes in my life to become a productive citizen”
Examples of sentences NOT to use
o I buy kratom from a small/large dealer (similarly head shop)
o Kratom takes the place of, and is like an opiate to me
o “This plant has changed my life so much I am fully dependent on it to function”
o The kratom effects are not heroin like (do not use both words in same sentence as
it may be misconstrued)
o “I use kratom because it’s just like taking an opioid” (truth: it is not the same and
things like cheese, coffee and chocolate all activate opiate receptors)
The Meeting & Speaking 101
- Make direct eye contact. If you are one that has trouble with eye contact try this trick: look the person in the face and focus your eyes to his/her forehead at the point between their eyes just above the bridge of the nose.
- It is ok to present yourself with elevated excitement however, be careful as to not come across as desperate or fidgety. Remind yourself you are there to ultimately inform and tell a story.
- There will be times that your own patience will be tried. It is very important that you do not lose your composer. Also take note of your body stance if you become aggravated and tense your muscles or clench your jaw. The individual you are facing will stop listening. It will negate everything you are trying to accomplish.
- Your message to the staff member, Congressman or Senator must be short. Think about what you want to say and make your pitch.
- 4 basic talking points you will need to accomplish in the first 1-3 minutes:
- Introduce yourself and include “your credentials” i.e. “Hi my name is Jane Jones
from Montgomery Alabama. I am a mom of 2 boys, active booster member at the
High school, and I am secretary for a dental office.”
that bill (i.e “I would like to talk to you about HB175 that is currently coming up for
a vote in your committee on Wednesday” (fill in bill history if needed).
- State your stance on the bill i.e “This bill is very much a concern to me and I
oppose the consequences that HB175 will create if passed”.
individual may recognize the bill number does not mean they know what kratom
- Introduce yourself and include “your credentials” i.e. “Hi my name is Jane Jones
- Next step is to ask if you can share some information with them, give them your
information packet, tell your story, make your ask and say THANK YOU!
How to answer tough questions:
Be prepared to answer a few tough questions or negative statements. Have a brief response and try to steer the conversation to stay on topic of the numerous benefits. Here are a few of the common topics you could be asked to address:
- If this plant is so powerful shouldn’t doctors prescribe it? No. It promotes general health and well- being like many supplements do (use some examples and always make the coffee comparison since they are in the same family).
- Kratom is a very dangerous substance that’s been tied to deaths and should be removed from shelves. No, scientists agree that kratom does not cause respiratory depression (which is what leads to death in opioid overdoses) and that every case associated with kratom and a fatality has been tied to other drugs or prior medical history. 660 calls to poison control over a 6-year period (when each year poison control receives 3-4 million calls) is a near non-existent number when there are approximately 3-5 million kratom consumers in the U.S. Use comparisons like 56,000 ER visits from Tylenol each year
- Kraom is highly addictive. No, latest science suggests it’s about as addictive as coffee and improves lives instead of destroying them, unlike addictions to illict drugs do.
- Kratom is an adulterated substance with no medical value. No, it’s a safe plant when used responsibly. Much of the bad media attention has focused on a very small number of people who have purposefully tried to abuse it.
- Kratom is not FDA approved and therefore should be banned. No, it has been safely used for hundreds of years.
- Kratom is a dangerous synthetic that causes hallucinations and psychosis. None of the adverse even reports out there indicate this to be true. The origin of these claims appears to be a 1975 paper observing people having reactions to kratom combined with other illicit substances.
- Kratom is habit forming causing higher addiction rates. Actually, it is quite the opposite, leading people away from deadly drugs.
- Kratom is an opiate and should therefore be banned. No, kratom is a novel substance that is only a partial mu opiate agonist with weak affinity to opiate receptors (which is why it helps ease discomfort) and its actually an antagonist at other opiate receptors in the brain (so it blocks opiate-like effects).
*This guide was originally drafted by Deana Pierce based on lobby trainings given by Susan Ash of the AKA. www.americankratom.org