Frisby & Associates has offices in Washington DC, New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia.


What do the power wheelchair industry, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and Cape Wind have in common?

Each is part of an industry that lacked broad awareness and is often misunderstood by the public. They also faced public relations and public affairs challenges that have been addressed by the two principals of Frisby & Associates: Michael K. Frisby, president, and Larry Carpman, senior counsel.

Just Say No to ‘One Step in Your Home’

In late 2003, Mr. Frisby of Frisby & Associates was hired by the power wheelchair industry to help overturn a new policy set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that restricted power wheelchairs through Medicare to beneficiaries who could not walk a single step in their homes. This new policy stung the manufacturers and suppliers of power wheelchairs, and would collectively cost them $1 billion a year in revenue. Our team put a human face on the issue, focusing attention on the beneficiaries whose access to this medical equipment was being restricted.  We successfully pitched The New York Times  to do a story on the new policy that focused attention on a nun in a Pittsburgh convent who had her power wheelchair claim denied by the government. A few weeks after the story ran, CMS paid the claim for the nun’s power wheelchair and then pulled the restrictive policy.

Frisby & Associates continued to work with the industry and our media outreach included major stories and mentions by the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Denver Post, Washington Post, and many others.  We also produced and aired a Video News Release that was picked up by more than 212 local television stations across the country and was seen by nearly 10 million viewers.  In addition, a radio news release was picked up by another 637 radio stations, with an audience of 23 million. We also worked with PBS to run a “Fast Forward’’ segment on the Medicare reimbursement issue, and we booked more than 35 interviews on radio stations in major markets across the country.   

Make Your Friends Before You Need Them

Ten years ago, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco hired Mr. Frisby to address their awareness and public-affairs issues. FHLBank San Francisco was the largest institution in the Federal Home Loan Bank system, but few people, including local public officials and lawmakers in Washington, knew and understood the role they played in their communities.

Under Mr. Frisby’s leadership, FHLBank San Francisco began producing a quarterly newsletter, and each issue was sent to more than 5,000 influential people in Washington and their district of California, Arizona and Nevada. We also initiated a series of roundtable discussions–about 15 a year–with congressmen and senators in the three states on local housing issues that received considerable local and regional media coverage.

This strategy allowed the Bank to enlist hundreds of public officials, civic leaders and housing activists as allies for the numerous regulatory battles that have been fought and hence – the Bank made its friends before they needed them.  Moreover, over the last 10 years, Mr. Frisby has designed and implemented strategies that have furthered the Bank’s regulatory and legislative agendas, even executing a media strategy that resulted in the resignation of a top federal regulator whose proposals were damaging to the Bank.

Making New Energy Sources a Reality 

As the nation’s first offshore wind energy project, Cape Wind faced a unique communications challenge. Although the need for clean, renewable energy was growing by the week, the idea of a large-scale wind power project was not familiar to citizens, state and federal regulators—or the media.  Mr. Carpman assisted the project’s staff starting in 2003 to help establish the project’s credibility on a local, regional and national scale. Part of our strategy involved getting third-party validation to confirm the value of the project. We won support from the editorial pages of regional newspapers, and representatives from Denmark who had already successfully sited several offshore wind farms, as well as business leaders from Cape Cod.

In January of 2008, the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the lead federal permitting agency, issued its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) which found that Cape Wind presents significant environmental benefits without major impacts on marine and wildlife. A public opinion poll also found that 83 percent of Massachusetts residents support the project, up from 40 percent when our communications strategy was first launched.

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