How advanced is your union’s online content communication plan?

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In the digital campaigning world, good content is very important. I’ve resisted writing about the Kony 2012 campaign, but it’s worth raising here to illustrate why content is so important. Invisible Children aimed to engaged 500,000 US college and high school students using their professionally developed thirty-minute documentary.

Their runaway success was because they thought like publishers rather than campaigners. They told a story. Their documentary was a major part of an entire sustained content initiative, rather than a stand alone campaign. Although technology was important in sharing  their story, the strength of Kony 2012 was in the quality of the story — the content.

Unions have great stories to tell. The Rights at Work campaign helped reveal many of those stories. Strong, empowered members; unionised workplaces overcoming incredible odds; working people turfing out a conservative prime minister. These stories — like the Invisible Children documentary — are the essence of digital content communications and campaigning. Good content cuts through the white-noise of the Internet.

Your union’s story — and the story of your campaign and your members — is a valuable asset. Every union has a story (or several) to tell, but not every union has the skills, resources or staff to actually tell their stories.

How advanced is your union in content campaigning?

How does your union score for its readiness of content campaigning and communications? Are you just getting to your feet, starting on the walk or sprinting along?

1. Stand: Your union may have created a few social media accounts or a blog, but is infrequently utilising them. Activity is not viewed as important by the leadership and campaign communication relies mostly on “push” communications such as email blasts.

2. Stretch: Your union realises the value of content campaigning and begins to build a strategy. The union develops and understands that content requires an investment of resources, and a leadership sponsor is ready to lead the program.

3. Walk: Content creation and production gain a solid strategic foundation within the union, and campaign content begins to be distributed across a variety of channels. Processes are formalised and content is audited, assessed and recorded.

4. Jog: This is the goal for most unions seriously committed to online content communications and campaigning. The strategy is clear and communicated throughout the union, and the focus shifts toward expanding the communications team and its ability to create engaging content.

5. Run: The most aspirational phase of the model, this phase includes a successful, real-time integration of content marketing and curation with all aspects of union branding.

A self-assessment tool

Score0 (Stand)1 (Stretch)2 (Walk)3 (Jog)4 (Run)
Organisational structureNo leadership sponsor or formal structure to create or distribute contentLeadership sponsor and a small team or single staff memberLeadership member leads team of dedicated content communications creatorsContent managers lead teams focused on different content channels (e.g. web, email, ads, social)Communications director or equivalent integrates content into all communications efforts
Internal resourcesNo internal resources dedicated to content creation.Assess colleagues' (e.g. organisers / industrial officers) capabilities to produce content (and create team)Expand responsibilities and size of teamFormalise content team, possibly with dedicated staffContent creation is expands to all teams (communications, organising, training, industrial, etc)
External resourcesNo external resources engaged to make the case for or create contentConsultants make the case for content communicationsEstablish relationships with agencies for content creation and production supportAgencies assume a larger role in creating more advance types of content (e.g. videos, apps)Working with cutting edge agencies to explore new types of content

Some takeaways for union content communications

Having a leadership sponsor is essential

A union without someone in the leadership (ideally an elected leader) championing online campaigning and communications will struggle to successfully develop and implement a digital strategy. Who is in charge of planning your online and social campaigns? Who resources it?

Link metrics to meaningful campaign objectives to determine effectiveness

Defining and objective sand using the correct tools allows online communicators to track any number of actions that result from the content campaign. These could include number of new members, petition signatures, donations, etc. Unions have limited resources, so communicators must be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of their online communications.

Be platform agnostic

Don’t be tied to one social or online platform or another. Members exist across platforms, so your union content should be able to live anywhere and be shared anywhere. I’m a big proponent of Facebook for example, because it is near ubiquitous, but your union should be mindful of where its members actually congregate online. Don’t neglect different platforms that are popular in non-English speaking countries, or forums used by different demographics. Do you represent a lot of IT workers? Get on Whirlpool. Are a lot of your members interested in paid maternity leave? Look at the Mamamia forums.

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  1. J Lau - June 17, 2012

    MT Does your union have an online content communication plan? http://t.co/5sEwCr4l. CHECK OUT Alex's website #CUPEedu

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