The association lobbyist’s iPad toolkit

I love my iPad. I really love my iPad. I probably use it more than my office desktop and television combined. It’s not only a great way to watch videos, read e-books and check email and social media networks; it’s also becoming a part of how I do my job as an association lobbyist. In the process, I’ve discovered some apps and other items that all iPad-toting lobbyists should have in their arsenal.

1. 112th Congress Member Directory. Produced by the Government Printing Office, this app is a basic listing of every member of Congress by state, chamber (House or Senate) and political party. To access the app, go to, then place it on the home screen of your mobile device. Free.

2. MyCongress. It’s another member directory but more robust. From your member of Congress’ page, you get a bio, access to his or her website, contact information and recent news, including the member’s social media networks. The app hasn’t been updated to reflect changes in redistricting, and there’s an issue with accessing the Congress member’s Twitter feed, but it’s worth the minor hiccups. Free.

3. PopVox. This app allows you to search for legislation via keyword or bill number. Once you find the bill, you can get a co-sponsor list by party, a list of organizations for and against the bill as well as the bill’s text. You can also share the bill’s text on social media sites including Facebook and Twitter. To use the app, you will need to create an account. $9.99.

4. Congressional Record. This app, developed by the Library of Congress, gives an accounting of the daily activity on Capitol Hill, including bills to be considered on the floor. Free.

5. Evernote. This app organizes your notes by month and allows you to share them via email, Facebook and Twitter. And it’s perfect for coalition meetings. Free.

6. Dropbox. Ever wonder how you can access your desktop files on your iPad without having to email them to yourself? Dropbox is your answer. By setting up an account on your PC, you can upload files that can be accessed on your iPad whenever you’re away from the office. Free.

7. OnLive Desktop. OnLive Desktop allows you to replicate Windows on your iPad, complete with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The app is free, but you must create an account. Additional paid accounts, which start at $4.99 per month, offer added features such as access to cloud storage, Web-based email and browsers that can use Adobe Flash. Free.

8. C-SPAN. Even though there’s no dedicated iPad app for C-SPAN, you can download the iPhone version onto your device. Never miss another hearing or floor action in the House or Senate with access to C-SPAN 1, 2 and 3, as well as C-SPAN Radio. Free.

9. LinkedIn. Finally, LinkedIn has released an app for the iPad, and it’s fantastic. In addition to the regular features, users also have the option of adding their calendar, along with current weather conditions and a stock ticker, to the update page. The format will remind readers of Flipboard, which makes for a wonderful user experience. Free.

10. Zaggfolio iPad Keyboard Case. Obviously not an app, but lobbyists looking to increase their productivity between meetings on the Hill will need a case like this. Using Bluetooth technology, the keyboard connects to your iPad and creates a modified notebook. The case makes it easy to respond to emails and work on documents on the go. The keys are similar to what you’ll find on a standard keyboard; and despite its compact size, the keyboard is comfortable to use. This does add some weight to your iPad, but not that much. $99.

11. Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. If you’re looking for a keyboard that doesn’t add weight to your iPad, this is your device. In fact, it is lighter than the iPad. Like the Zaggfolio, it connects via Bluetooth, and the keyboard is comfortable to use. Unlike the Zaggfolio, it covers only the front of the iPad, leaving the back vulnerable to scratches. However, a simple sleeve can solve that issue. $99.

What are your favorite apps?  Please let me know in the comments.


Ignite me? Ignite you!

My name is Stefanie and I’m obsessed with Ignite.  For those not familiar, Ignite is an event where speakers have five minutes and 20 slides (auto-advanced every 15 seconds) to make a point.  The first Ignite took place in Seattle back in 2006 and has since spread across the world.  I recently participated in my second ever Ignite at IgniteDC #9.  It was here that I discovered something I already knew: I love everything about Ignite!  Developing the topic, preparing the slides, practice rounds and finally, given the speech. The talks given that night were funny, engaging, and thoughtful.  Not something you can say about most presentations.

So why should you do an Ignite?  It offers you the best preparation to tackle any presentation.  Ignite may be the shortest talk you’ll ever give, but it will definitely be your hardest. Remember, you don’t control the speed of your slides so you have to be able to relay a thought per slide every 15 seconds.  Not easy.  Ignite also forces you to practice.  You cannot wing Ignite.  Correction, you can wing Ignite, but don’t expect it to be any good. Ignite is basically a performance.  Even the best musicians do a sound check so why should you be any different?  Prepare to dedicate hours to making your speech the best it can be.

Once you have an Ignite under your belt, every other presentation is a breeze. You’ll be more inclined to use images rather than text for your slides. You’ll be less dependent on notes. You’ll improve your delivery.  Like bacon and a sunny warm day, Ignite can make your world just a little better.