The Grassroots Corner March 14, 2022

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  • Source: FAIRtax
  • 03/14/2022

How To Get Candidates To Sign The FAIRtax Pledge – 2nd Installment: Meeting Prep

[Editor’s note: This is the third in a five-part series (the “first” part being the introduction) by Author and FAIRtax volunteer John Gaver, who by far has brought in more candidates to sign the FAIRtax Pledge than anyone else. Read this series to learn John’s secrets. Here we give you John’s tips on how to prepare to meet with your candidate. In the next two weeks we will share more of John’s techniques. Primary Day is coming soon in your state, so please read these articles.]
This is the second installment in a four-part series on how to easily get candidates in your area to sign the FAIRtax Candidate Pledge. In the first part, we covered how to identify all the candidates in a race, how to find their contact information, and how to approach them and ask for a meeting. In this installment, we'll look at what you need for an interview and now to prepare for the interview.
Keep in mind that these are only guidelines. It's almost a certainty that each interview will be different. Just start with these guidelines and go with the flow.

1) Before going to the meeting or event, print out two copies of the Pledge to take with you. One copy is for you to scan and send to and the other is for the candidate, should he/she want to display it on his website. Depending on whether the candidate is running for the House or Senate, draw a line through the portion that does not 
relate. (If the candidate is running for the House, line-out the portion about the Senate and vice-versa.) Put the prepared Pledges in your car the night before.
2) Optional: Take a couple of FAIRtax palm cards with you. Write your name and phone number plainly on the top. Put them in your car the night before.

3) Take a short selfie stick, with phone mount clip, if you can. It's far better than holding the camera at arm’s-length. Decide on your mounting position, before leaving the house. Mount your phone on the selfie stick in LANDSCAPE orientation, using the front-facing camera. Make sure that the zoom is at maximum wide angle and extend the selfie stick just far enough that you and the candidate can both be comfortably in the scene without cutting off shoulders on either side. Also, angle the camera on the selfie stick in such a way that when the camera is centered on both you and the candidate, the hand furthest from the candidate will be holding the selfie stick about waist-high, just slightly in front of your body. (Note: The closest hand may be holding a voice recorder or microphone.) That way, your arm appears to hang down naturally, on the video, but you can easily swing the camera around between you and the candidate, without looking unnatural. When the camera is centered on you, your arm will be just slightly away from your body. When it's on the candidate, your arm will be just slightly across in front of your body. Put the selfie stick in your car the night before.
4) Make sure you know how to operate your phone's video camera. Set the camera to video mode. It may be a good idea to set the camera aspect ratio to 16x9, if you know how. That might help get both you and the candidate in the frame, without having the camera too far away to pick up clear audio. Set the phone to use the front camera. Now here is the important part. Do all those things before leaving the  house, so you don't have to take more of the candidate's time setting up your camera on-site. Also, you don't want to go through the whole interview and realize that all you did was take a single photo. So, I repeat, AT THE VERY LEAST, SET THE CAMERA TO VIDEO MODE BEFORE LEAVING THE HOUSE!
5) Make sure that you have your personal business card with you. Write the word "FAIRtax" on the front, as a reference. If you don't have business cards, then write your name, phone number, and the word "FAIRtax" on a blank piece of heavy white paper of business card or index card size. You will hand the candidate your card or contact information as soon as you meet. This is separate from the palm card.
6) Optional: Since you will want to be able to get both you and the candidate in the same video frame, this will place the microphone some distance away from the two of you. Also, a phone mic will often pick up way too much background noise for a clear voice recording. So, if you have one, take a portable voice recorder with you. That way, you can get the close-up sound and still have the wide-angle video. Then either you or the people at can sync the audio from the voice recorder with the video from your phone. I'll cover this in the third and fourth installments of this article. Don't let this worry you.
If you do use a voice recorder, it's IMPORTANT to set the scene mode of the recorder to "Interview Mode". This will reduce the microphone gain, which will help to eliminate background noise. In that mode, most recorders will pick up mostly sound that is close to the microphone and directly in front of it. When using that mode, most such audio recorders will automatically reduce sounds off to either side.
Put the voice recorder in your car the night before.
If you don't have a voice recorder, then the selection of a place to conduct the interview may become a little more important. Hard walls that can create echo, background conversations, and noises like milk steamers can reduce the quality of your audio. That said, I have done a couple of interviews in a Starbucks. But I was using a voice recorder and I'm really good with audio editing software. But, meet where you have to. Just keep the issue of background noise in mind. If you have too much noise and you can't eliminate it, maybe Bob Paxton or I can do it. But it's better to have no background noise to begin with.
For the record, I use a SONY ICD-UX560. It's not much larger than a large thumb drive, but it includes a variety of scene modes, including the "Interview Mode" that you will use.
That said, the model I use may be too expensive for some people. Depending on the accessory package, it can range from $100 to $150. But there are Chinese knockoffs on Amazon for as little as $30 and some of them are actually rather highly rated. Remember that you aren't trying to produce theatrical quality sound. You're just going for "pretty clear" voice and low background noise. So as long as it has an "Interview Mode" and a decent star rating, it should be good enough.
7) Optional: Though optional, I strongly advise that you wear FAIRtax branded gear. Not only will it look better for the video, but it will easily identify you to the candidate, who has never met you. As for me, I wear a FAIRtax polo and FAIRtax cap. Put the cap in your car the night before.
8) Optional: Buy a FAIRtax-related book to give to the candidate and take it with you. I use "The Rich Don't Pay Tax! ...Or Do They?", because I wrote it, it’s recent and up-to-date, and best of all, I get them at cost. But you can just as well use, "The FairTax Book" or "FairTax: The Truth". They are older staples of the FAIRtax movement, but being older, it means that you can pick them up for much less than original retail and they are both still relevant. Put the book in your car the night before.
The candidate will probably be on a tight schedule, so you will have maybe 15 to 30 minutes with the candidate, and you can spend only part of that time answering FAIRtax questions. Since you don't have time to give him a complete education on the FAIRtax, that book will be a resource for him/her, after you're gone. But whatever book you use, make sure you have read it, so you will be prepared to answer questions posed by candidates regarding statements in the book.

At this point, you've covered all of the actual interview preparations, and you're ready to meet the candidate for the interview. But there are still some things to do.
You want to arrive on time, so make sure that your gas tank is full. If not, either fill it up the night before or plan to leave in time to allow you to fill your tank and still make it on time.
Also, make sure you know where you are going. I put the address in Waze the night before.
There is one final critical thing to remember.
The last thing you want to do is have the candidate waiting for you. You should be waiting for him/her. If you have to call to explain why you're late, you better have the paramedic making your apologies. (Ouch!)

John Gaver

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