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Copy of CEIU: Proposal for the Creation of a Communications Officer Position

An examination of CEIU’s communications activities contrasted with a model from an organizing-based union
by

Todd Ferguson

on 21 June 2013

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Transcript of Copy of CEIU: Proposal for the Creation of a Communications Officer Position

CEIU SEIC
A proposal for the Creation of a Communications Officer Position
CEIU has an opportunity to improve our communications strategy by committing to a more member-driven communications model.
Currently, CEIU lacks a cohesive and comprehensive communications strategy.

Communications tend to happen on an ad-hoc, as-needed basis and are often in response to crises.
Why the proposal?
An opportunity!
Yes.
Is this a problem?
By default, CEIU tends to operate under the “servicing union” model. As a “servicing union,” we behave as and are perceived by our members as an agency members pay a subscription fee to and do not think about until they have a problem, at which point they expect to have an expert available to solve the problem for them.
Union members view the union as an outside entity or third party, separate from themselves. The most appropriate analogy for this would be an insurance agency.
How this servicing model is reflected in CEIU'S communications
A lack of communications from the union to the membership is one of the top concerns members have with CEIU, which they have repeatedly expressed when asked what they think the union needs to improve upon.
Most members don't understand CEIU's structure, how decisions get made, or how to actively participate in their union.
Many members have expressed frustration that they are unaware of what CEIU is doing about specific issues or even who they should speak to about those issues.
Inter-union communications tend towards what paid staff think the members should hear about, rather than what members themselves think is important.
In contrast to our “servicing” approach is the “organizing” model of trade unionism. This model emphasizes the union as a democratic organization, in which members come together through the union to resolve problems they share and improve their working conditions collectively.
How the organizing model is reflected in communications
There is effective communications within the membership, reflecting the voices and experiences of the members themselves.
Members become familiar with the structure of their union through active, meaningful
participation in the union.
Members are not only aware of union action on issues of concern, but actively participate in prioritizing those issues and the subsequent actions.
Members are well-represented in the union’s public face.
THE INTERNET!
Print Communications
Mass Media
The benefit
The transition from the servicing model of communications to an organizing model will:
work to strengthen members’ sense of ownership of CEIU
increase union participation
and make CEIU more effective in winning improvements to the working lives of its members
Sound good?
The Proposal!
Excellent!
Let's get to the proposal, then.
By comparing CEIU’s communications activities in three broad areas with a “best-practices” model from an organizing-based union called the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), we will arrive at a series of proposals for how CEIU can improve its communications.
Email
Social Networks
Website
here's a picture
CEIU lacks a comprehensive database of home email addresses of its members and does not send regular emails (much less a regular email newsletter) to its members.
vs.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) has a sign-up form to “get updates” on almost every page on their website, which allows them to build a subscription list of home email addresses to send e-newsletters and alerts to.
{
Members get updates, we develop a comprhensive database
Sign-up here!
and here!
and here!
Proposals
provide opportunities in web and print documents for members to subscribe to a CEIU e-newsletter
develop an up-to-date database of members’ home email addresses
add a subscription form to the CEIU webpage template to gather email addresses
publish a regular email newsletter or bulletin
Adopting these proposals would result in an immediate improvement in how CEIU communicates with its members.
The benefit:
The CEIU Website
Members are not represented by their own words, through their own images, or in their own voices.

It is difficult to find information on the website that would be useful for members.
If a member wants to access a news story from the past, or get in touch with a specific committee, or find resources for shop stewards, it’s not clear where to go on the CEIU website.

Press releases, CEIU newsletters and committee reports are not archived on the website.
Stories on the front page (http://ceiu-seic.ca/en/) are written by staff only, and always in the third-person.
There are no photos, audio files, or videos to accompany the stories on the front page (although some in the archives contain photos if you click to read the full story).
Why not let this be one of the first things members see when they log onto their union's homepage?
Quotes from rank-and-file members are absent from all of the stories.
vs.
The NUHW Website

NUHW members are clearly represented on the front page of their website – in their own words and in their own voice.

Items of interest to members are clearly identified and easily accessible.
There is a separate page & archive of news stories titled “In The News,” as there is for all of the union’s leaflets, which are downloadable & printable.
At the bottom of the five stories on NUHW’s home page, you can click to get to pages with past stories.
This page features a complete archive of press releases issued by the Union.
Most stories have multiple media accompaniments embedded on the front page.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
One of the five stories is a direct appeal for action from a member identified by her/his job title & workplace, not by her/his position in the union.
There is a “Press Center” page with contact information for NUHW’s Communications Officer (including her phone number, an email link, and her Twitter feed).
}
A majority of the stories are accompanied by an engaging visual: photos, videos, maps, etc.
"a real fight"
links to a flickr slideshow
"went on strike"
links to an article on the site, describing the details of the strike
"promised them"
links to a copy of the memorandum
"A powerful strike at Keck Medical Center"
links to a video of the strike
The homepage (http://nuhw.org) features five news stories.
Proposals
Put photos, videos and audio of members on the front page, accompanying stories whenever possible
Use rank-and-file members’ voices in stories whenever possible and prudent to do so; use elected union officers’ voices as often as possible otherwise; minimize third-person perspective and staff voices’ in articles
Make past stories more accessible by adding “past pages” links at the bottom of the home page
Create a “Press Centre” page with contact information for CEIU’s Communications Officer and an archive of previous press releases
Add a form to all pages that will allow members to sign up with home email addresses for a regular CEIU newsletter and updates
Put all news stories involving CEIU on a separate page
Make all leaflets and posters generated by CEIU downloadable and place them on a separate page
The benefit
These amendments would produce a website which demonstrates member involvement and control, better reflecting CEIU's organizational structure.
The Union’s attempt to bypass prevalent social media by creating its own in the form of the Members’ Network was a bold and clever experiment but one that fell short of the mark in terms of being an all-encompassing social media strategy.
Only about 1% of the membership signed on to the Network and the Activity log showed that the number of members using the network in any month was less than 20. Clearly, the members have chosen other means to communicate with each other. 45% of union members in Canada are on Facebook.

Establish official accounts for CEIU on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr and other relevant social media sites.
Make every story on the CEIU website “sharable” and “likeable” on social media sites
vs.
CEIU currently has no official presence on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.
NUHW has links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts on the homepage of their website.
NUHW’s Facebook group has nearly two thousand members and their Twitter account is followed by over three hundred people.
Every story on the NUHW website can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the top four aggregate sites with two clicks.
During the same period of time that just 19 CEIU members used the CEIU Members’ Network, 96 NUHW members used NUHW’s Facebook page.
Proposals
The benefit
With a strong presence in the social networking sites that members are using to communicate, CEIU includes itself in the conversation.
CEIU’s print media communications are ad-hoc, inconsistent, uncoordinated and do not use modern technology to its full extent. There is no national CEIU publication distributed to all members.
CEIU publishes no regular newsletter or print material. Regional committees in Ontario publish photocopied or printed newsletters and reports, physically handing them out to members at conventions, in the hopes that they will be distributed throughout the locals.
An idea
Particularly-good articles could be repurposed for web distribution on CEIU's website, then shared in social media by members as they choose to do so.
... small
There is normally no mail-out and these reports and newsletters are unavailable online or in a downloadable format.
Nor is there any way to search through previous newsletters and reports online.
The reports are done without use of graphic design or layout programs.
While the articles are in the voices of the committee members themselves, the quality of writing varies considerably and most of these publications could use some editing and rewriting.
What we do:
Problems here:
Proposals
Create an online guide to encourage locals to produce their own newsletters
Offer all CEIU committees assistance with editing, proofreading and design of their newsletters and reports. Use the home email database to distribute emailed/downloadable versions.
Create a national CEIU publication that would contain recent and relevant jurisprudence along with stories featuring rank-and-file members.
Emphasize members’ own voices in all publication and include photos
Use industry-standard graphics and layout programs to raise the quality of publications
Produce emailed/downloadable versions of publications in addition to physical copies to reduce printing costs and increase readership.
Include print publication articles on the website and in the e-newsletter described elsewhere in this proposal.
CEIU increasingly interacts with the mass media. Because our union represents public service workers, we have a pressing need to do regular, consistent media work on union activities.
This is a valuable opportunity to emphasize the value of the services that our members provide the public and puts our members up-front, where they belong.
While we’ve certainly had some media successes, there is room for improvement.
As is the case with many things mentioned, press releases are created on an ad-hoc basis
There is no clear individual in charge of drafting or sending press releases
It is unclear whether CEIU maintains a media contact list
There is no accessible archive of press releases
While members are increasingly put in positions where they must deal with the press, there is no training available to members on how to most effectively do this
CEIU
VS.
NUHW has a Communications Officer in charge of all press releases and maintains a complete archive of all press releases (available on their website) as well as an up-to-date media contact list.
NUHW
Proposals
Create one position responsible for maintaining a press contact list for all regions, vetting and distributing press releases and following with the journalists, as well as writing and distributing press releases
Create an accessible archive of past press releases and published media stories
Disseminate published media stories to all members
Provide media training to members to assist them in dealing with the media
Email
A CEIU Communications Officer Would:
Develop an up-to-date database of members’ home email addresses.
Add a subscription form to the CEIU webpage template to gather email addresses.
Publish a regular email newsletter or bulletin.
Website
Put photos, videos and audio of members on the front page, accompanying stories whenever possible
Use rank-and-file members’ voices in stories whenever possible and prudent to do so; use elected union officers’ voices as often as possible otherwise; minimize third-person perspective and staff voices’ in articles
Make past stories more accessible by adding “past pages” links at the bottom of the home page
Create a “Press Centre” page with contact information for CEIU’s Communications Officer and an archive of previous press releases
Add a form to all pages that will allow members to sign up with home email addresses for a regular CEIU newsletter and updates
Put all news stories involving CEIU on a separate page
Make all leaflets and posters generated by CEIU downloadable and place them on a separate page
Social Media
Help assess the effectiveness of the CEIU Members’ Network and decide whether to keep it as-is, make changes to it, integrate it with other social networking sites, replace it with something else (such as a more traditional message board), or delete it.
Establish official accounts for CEIU on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.
Make every story on the CEIU website “sharable” and “likeable” on social media sites.
Print Media
Create a national CEIU publication that would contain stories about recent and relevant jurisprudence, stories featuring rank-and-file members, etc.
Emphasize members’ own voices in all publications and include photos.
Use industry-standard graphics and layout programs to improve the quality of publications.
Produce email and downloadable versions of publications in addition to physical copies to reduce printing costs and increase readership.
Include print publication articles on the website and in the e-newsletter described elsewhere in this proposal.
Offer all CEIU committees assistance with editing, proofreading and design of their newsletters and reports. Use the home email database to distribute email versions or downloadable versions.
Create an online how-to guide to encourage locals to produce their own newsletters.
Mass Media
Create one position responsible for maintaining a press contact list for all regions, vetting and distributing press releases and following with the journalists, as well as writing and distributing press releases.
Create an accessible archive of past press releases and published media stories.
Disseminate published media stories to all members.
Provide media training to members to assist them in dealing with the media.
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