- Identified the issue/situation clearly.
- Determined how members view the issue.
- Collected background information, done some research and have your facts straight.
- Set short-term and long-term goals.
Next you need to identify the people or different audiences you want to talk with.
Identify your audiences
Take a look at the sample strategy wheel and the explanation of how it works. You dont have to use it, but many locals will find it to be a valuable tool that helps them to think about who they need to talk to. Theres a blank wheel included to help your committee create your own communications plan.
Heres how the wheel works. In the centre spot of the wheel put yourself, your committee or your local union executive. Then work outwards from what you presently know about your union activities.
Think of the groups with which you now communicate the membership, your employer, other unions. Think about existing or potential coalition groups. Draw each of them in a larger circle around your small centre circle.
Work your way out by adding rings for each group with which you communicate as well as groups you want to contact. Identify potential allies, such as other like-minded community groups and users of your members services. In the outer rings, you could draw circles to include politicians whose decisions affect your work. There should be a ring for the media and lastly one for the public.
Think of the circle as making waves. Setting up a communication link with each group in the ring should flow naturally. First, you contact your members. Then you develop allies who will support your campaign. Next you talk to the politicians. Then you use the news media to broadcast the situation. Perhaps you want to have a ring for some paid advertising, depending on campaign funds. Lastly you reach out to the public.
(See the Campaign themes and slogans section for advice on crafting a message for the public.)
Set an overall timeframe for your campaign and look for appropriate peaks in activity. Whether your goal is to sway opinion for an upcoming council vote or stop a pending hospital closure, plan your actions leading up to decision day. Look for openings to communicate your message, such as a visit by the provincial health care minister. If youre dealing with a board or municipal council, you might want to use their meeting as a focal point since the media are likely to be there.
To launch your campaign, you will probably want to focus on a central action. This could be some kind of public event, such as a demonstration or information picket. It may be a longer-term effort, such as a petition or card collection. Ask yourselves what would draw attention to your issue and win support from your target groups.
To ensure your members support, you will need to keep them informed throughout the campaign. How you do this may best be determined by your local unions structure.
It could be as simple as a notice prominently displayed on the locals bulletin board or in the lunchroom. Sometimes using e-mail or group voice mail is best, depending on how your workplace is structured. Other locals may communicate best by bulletin updates faxed to members, using the Internet or developing a CUPE Communicator/1 in 10 contact system. (See Tools section)
If you arent publishing a regular union newsletter, this is your chance to start one. Consider issuing a special campaign bulletin separately or as an insert in your newsletter. (Remember a newsletter doesnt have to be huge. Many locals have only one-page newsletters and they work very well.)
If many of your membership have access to the Internet, either at work or at home, you might want to consider a web site. For some locals, it may actually be a more cost-effective solution than paying for photocopying and printing. (It doesnt have to be complex or have a dazzling design. Make it simple and easy to update so you can keep it up with a minimum of fuss.)
Check other sections in this Power Tool for more detail about different tools to use when building your communications network.
To reach your public audiences, you will want to engage in one or more activities. These could include leafleting, lobbying, petitions, mall displays, coalition building, information pickets, cultural events, political action, etc. Some members have created web sites or used the Internet to fax letters directly to political targets. Never forget any bit of publicity helps. A letter to the editor of your local paper doesnt take long to write, but helps get out information.
Financing the campaign
Its important to state that a campaign does not have to be expensive to be effective. In fact, many successful campaigns are virtually free. No amount of money replaces hard work and commitment from members and the best way to guarantee success is to get as many members involved in a campaign as possible.
That said, some campaigns do cost money. If you are spending, its important to list your campaign materials, quantities, costs and deadlines. Call your local unionized printer for estimates. Contact your local Internet provider and find out about getting a web site hosted. Get estimates on advertising in places that best reach your target audience, if you think you need advertising to get your message out. Dont forget advertising isnt always the answer and almost never works unless there are members doing something to back it up.
Dont forget to identify all possible expenditures (travel, office equipment, supplies, lost wages for bookoffs, mailing, printing, distribution, web design and hosting charges, etc.).
Your campaign may qualify for financial help from CUPE National. Working with your CUPE rep and a Communications representative you can make a request to cost-share expenses for certain types of campaigns.
Local unions may also want to work with provincial divisions and sector committees to gain access to cost-sharing. This can sometimes be done by incorporating local campaigns into broader provincial ones, but it cant be stressed enough that a campaign does not have to be big to be successful.
Measuring success, shifting gears
Build a concrete measure of success into your campaign so you know how well youre doing. Include a mail-back coupon if youre leafleting. Give people a chance to respond by using a feedback phone line. If you have a web site, make sure your site allows people to send comments to you and tracks how many people visit your site and where theyre visiting from.
Hold regular evaluation meetings of your team. Its important to be aware of the impact your campaign is having so you can shift gears and make appropriate changes. Be flexible and remember to evaluate what youre doing as you go.
Rocking the boat
Dont be put off if your campaign generates a negative reaction. Rocking the boat is bound to make waves. In fact, if you get some people angry its probably a sign youre doing something right. Get help before you plan something that you or your members have doubts about. For example, there are resource materials available that explain libel and other issues. Always inform yourself. Remember, help is available through your rep and CUPEs Communications Branch.
To do checklist
- Identify the issue.
- Find out how members see it.
- Gather background facts.
- Set goals.
- Develop campaign message and slogan.
- Target your audiences.
- Refine your timing.
- Plan your campaign event.
- Communicate with your members.
- Decide how to go public.
- Plan your finances.
- Set up ongoing evaluation.