Communication Tools


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Presented at the
LECET Information Technology Conference
Washington, DC
May 2, 2012
by Lisa Grob, LIUNA

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  • Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I am Lisa Grob. I work in the Strategic Communications Department at LIUNA headquarters in Washington, DC. To begin, using communications tools effectively is critical to engaging members in the political challenges and efforts we will undertake this year. There is a lot at stake in the presidential election, congressional races and state and local races How do we make sure members are ready to vote for the right candidates, and beyond that help encourage family members, fellow union members to vote, and then going forward to push leaders to fight for working families after they are elected?Also, how can we engage members – reach them and persuade them that their future is at stake whether it’s an election or contract battle or an organizing fight?A lot of this depends on good communications and using 7 fundamental tools.
  • From our own polling we know that members who receive frequent, high level of communications are more likely to volunteer for political and organizing efforts.Good communications - which I’ll get to ingreater detail next – means receiving frequent, consistent and persuasive messages from their union. Across every category of activism – members are more likely to use stickers, signs, talk up their union, give money for politics, do door-knocking - if they receive good communications.
  • First what is good communication?It is using a Consistent and persuasive Message, delivered enough times that a member, or member of the public is convinced. Advertising research shows it can take up to 7 times to persuade a person.Two– way communication is also important. Two-way meaning that a member can interact with their union - whether it’s through polling, social media use that encourages discussion between members and members and their unionInteraction can help give people a sense of ownership and responsibility – and spur activism NOT just because someone told them to do something but because it’s about fighting for their job and their union.Who is delivering a message is also important for members. Someone they know such as local leadership but also fellow members – the people they work with on a daily basis – getting the message from all of these people can help better convince and persuade – that yes this is something I need to get involved in.Effective communications and branding helps in an engendering a sense of our identity as a group and who a member identifies with, if they identify with their union, if part of how they see themselves is as a union member, the local isn’t only stronger, but members are more likely to give consideration to what the union says.
  • Before we dive into the convention resolution and the 7 tools. Here are the results of our member survey in February. This was a Hart Research poll conducted two months ago of LIUNA members. The question was what do you regularly use as in a few times a week and you can see the majority of members are using home computers, the internet, text messaging and personal email. And a third use a single social media site – facebook. If you are at a Local how does the way the local communicates with members stack up against this chart? Is the Local using websites to reach the likely 65% of their members online. Do they have the ability to text members are they using email? Are they using Facebook?LIUNA Locals should be using the tools that members use to communicate.
  • During the 2011 Convention, Resolution 8 – titled “Communicating to Mobilize, Organize and Build Activism” was passed in order to encourage all Locals to adopt the 7 fundamental communications toolsThree main objectives were set forth in the resolution:One - that by 2012 all Locals use at least four of the 7 tools. Also, every Local will be required to collect member emails and cell numbers and report on the per capita form.The second objective is that during 2012, 4 Locals from each Region will be selected as pilots for a program using all 7 toolsThree: by 2016 all Locals use All 7 toolsThe resolution was put forth because research shows that membership activism increases measurably when certain communications tools are used. These tools can make the difference between a routine handful of members versus tens of thousands of members advocating for good jobs at public hearings, in the news media, with fellow members, at rallies and other events, and bringing the topic of their union to daily conversations in their communities, as it was when the union movement was strongest. This activism can translate into a more energized membership, feeding life into our Union at all levels from local to international.
  • Here are the 7 Tools.These tools are about building the internal infrastructure that every organization needs – basic communications tools, the kind of tools the Republican party, the Tea Party, the corporate world have been so successful at using – and we have to implement and use them too if we’re going to survive. What can you do if you have the 7 Tools? They enhance the ability to communicate across the union and build stronger networks. In Indiana, for example, by using the 7 tools to build their base of activists, they’re now capable through member to member outreach of reaching every member by phone within an hour. For each of these 7 tools – the International has developed and implemented a program so that Locals can easily adopt the tools. The Strategic Communications Department also does an annual survey of Locals to measure how many Locals are using the tools. Automated calling is routine use of automated dialing devices such as robocalls, phonebanking with a predictive dialer, and telephone townhalls – to encourage members to attend meetings and events, collect information by phone such as through polling, asking for email and text optins. We can set you up to actually use any of these tools within a couple of days or less. The cost is based on the time used. We have draft scripts, instructions and can provides suggestions on the timing for calls. Robocalls are the simplest to use but you will have the most powerful results if you use volunteers to make live calls. Often that’s not practical or if the call is for a routine matter it may not be necessary. But if you compare a recorded message from a business manager asking the member to take political action to a live member volunteer having a live conversation using our predictive dialer there be as much as 10% increase in participation. That’s huge. Using text messaging to communicate with members is a tremendously underutilized tool – but it has great potential – with almost everyone now using a cell phone and they carry it with them wherever they go. We have a platform ready to go where you can send out blast text messages. Also, some of the Local Union membership database softwares have text blasting built in the same way robocalls are built in to it. With text message blasts you can simply type in one line of text – alerting members to important news/ an event reminder / quick way to reach people with a cancellation notice when it’s too late to reach anyone at home – just type once, select a group to target, whether it’s your whole membership, just members working with a single contractor or any and you are done.Email is another way to quickly get a message out without postage and paper. For this tool, we are looking for locals to collect member email addresses and start using email as tool to reach their membership. The International will continue to send our email newsletters but members usually most closely identify with their Local and will respond best to messages from their Local. We have a platform email blasts as well.Many Locals are playing catch up on email and text message optins – but I have seen Locals successfully collect this information. Most Locals have a phone number for every single member – how can you approach text messaging and email with the same vigilance that you keep those phone numbers up to date. Every routine conversation, every form that collects member contact info. can be used to secure this information. Websites are critical – every organization should have a website – the International has a free template and free hosting available to every Local. We provide training on how to use and update the site and assist in getting initial on to the site. Social media is becoming an increasingly important way to increase your profile on the web and it’s a way of driving traffic to your website. Last year’s polling showed 22% of members using Facebook and this year it’s 30% so think about it this way – the internet is a big place but perhaps 30% of your members are guaranteed to be found in one spot online. Your Local having a presence in that place make it easier for you to engage with them online.Number 5 – Targeted publications – by this we mean consistent communication via letter, postcards – publications are a way to reinforce other communications. The International has a Local Union newsletter template that can be edited in Microsoft Word and printed on a copier. LiUNA! branding – the LIUNA orange and the look of our logo – only work if they are consistent at every level of the union. For the public, elected leaders, media – if they see different branding at different locals – they won’t see us as one or part of the same organization – we will be seen as divided and separate. Likewise branding encourages solidarity amongst members and builds a sense of identity as a union member. And finally but not least important – media outreach is integral to political power helping to persuade the public or our cause and amplify our issues with elected officials. What most people think they know about unions they hear and see in the media. Using media outreach means proactively contacting newsmedia – whether it’s your local newspaper, tv or radio station – and sharing the stories our event information that might be newsworthy, help in a political campaign and show the work and efforts of LIUNA members in a positive light. The international can help with sample press release, help with talking points, prep for talking to journalists, and with a list of suggested contacts in your own area that might have an interest in covering issues that affect your members. And lastly note that these tools operate best when used together - all of them working together build the strongest case for activism and participation. If you have an event use your robocall to invite and collect attendance information. Use an email to provide details and present the case for attending. Put the information on your website. A drumbeat of information should be posted on facebook. A postcard with a save the date can be sent out. Everything you do should carry the LIUNA branding and if it’s a newsworthy item media outreach should be included.
  • We do a survey of all Locals annually to see which tools they are using. The survey is a self report for the most part. From the survey we know that: 52% of Locals are using automated phone technology.21% of Locals use text messaging to reach members. 34% of Locals have a significant number of members on the email action network.36% of Locals have a website. 62% of Locals use targeted publications. 80% of Locals use LiUNA! Branding.50% of Locals proactively reach out to news mediaThe 2012 survey will likely start in the next few weeks.
  • Here’s where we are on reaching the 4 tools goal this year. Strategic Communications is working with each Region to make this pie chart 100% orange this year. That means reviewing which Locals aren’t using at least four tools and then doing outreach to help them get there. Whether it’s adding a website, using robocalls, or any of the 7 Tools we have a program any Local can use to get started.
  • The second part of Resolution 8’s 2012 goals was that 4 Locals in each Region would work with LIUNA Strategic Communications on an aggressive member communications program using all 7 tools. Pilots have started in Locals in California, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Washington, DC, Maryland, VirginiaWisconsin, Minnesota (Coming Soon)Each of the Pilots locals is working on specific goals for their Locals to increase activism, and adopt some of the tools they aren’t using such as building a text messaging program, an email program among others. Pilots will run through the end of 2012We’ve already had some great results. With two Locals who had never really used robocalls for meeting turn out with a robocall and text message reminder – their turn out at a monthly meeting doubled or tripled. And the pilots are all making great progress on building a list of members who are opted in for text messaging and beginning to use text as a tool to reach them.
  • Also, I want to mention that the LiUNA! smartphone app for leaders is now available for download from the Apple Store. It’s includes access to information on the 7 tools. There is a news feed which aggregates all LIUNA communications – twitter, facebook, the LIUNA Action Network, Faxline and One Minute Update. You will be able to check latest news on campaigns, pick up talking points and easily share materials by text, email or on your own social networks. There is also be a Lookup section with a directory of all Local Unions, District Councils and Regions.
  • For any Local that would like assistance in implementing any of the communications piece that we discussed or just get more information please give me a call.
  • Communication Tools

    2. 2. Communications  Activism 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% High Communication 0% Low Communication Low Communication High CommunicationSource: Peter Hart Research Survey of LIUNA members, November 2008
    3. 3. What Does Good Communications Mean?  Persuasive, consistent message  Multi-faceted – rule of 7  Two-way  Looks like “me”  Part of the daily conversation
    4. 4. What LIUNA Members UseHome computer 81%Internet 65%Text messaging 55%Personal e-mail 55%Facebook 33%
    5. 5. 2011 Convention Resolution 8Communicating to Mobilize, Organize & Build Activism1. By 2012, all Locals use at least 4 of the 7 tools2. During 2012, 4 Locals from each Region will be selected as pilots for a program using all 7 tools3. By 2016, all Locals use all 7 tools
    6. 6. 7 Tools1. Automated Calling2. Text Messaging3. LIUNA Action Network Email4. Websites and Social Media5. Targeted Publications6. LiUNA! Branding7. News Media Outreach
    7. 7. 7 Tools 80% 62% 52% 50% 34% 36% 21%Automated Text Email Website Publications Branding News MediaPhone Tech Messaging
    8. 8. Resolution 8: 4 Tools in 2012 49% 51% 4 or More Less than 4
    9. 9. 7 Tools: Pilot Program•Pilots have started in Locals inCalifornia, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia ,Wisconsin, Minnesota(Coming Soon)•2-3X Turnout Increase - Using a robocalls, textmessage for member meeting outreach.•Building a text message list – Building acritical mass of members reachable by text.
    10. 10. The LiUNA! App
    11. 11. ContactLisa GrobStrategic | 202 942 2271