What Union Public Relations Should Look Like
Unions at all levels underestimate the need, and their capability, to engage in public relations. Whether it is the National Veterans Affairs Council (NVAC) dealing with the recent patient “wait list” controversy, the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) dealing with controversial use of force policy issues, or American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) contending with years of pay freezes and pay cuts, unions have a vested interested in communicating a message. This communication should not be specifically limited to the membership. Instead, unions should seek to develop a single message that can be communicated to the public, agency officials, politicians, and union members. Using this approach, it is less likely conflicting message will be delivered and you will achieve a greater scale of economy.
Take a look at the National Border Patrol Council public relations video. This video production was done in house using standard consumer grade video and photo equipment (we did some consulting on tech needs for video production). Clearly, the NBPC is doing something right. In fact, comparatively impressive and very professional.
It is also important to note video alone is insufficient in our opinion. Union’s must maintain a website for both internal and external use. Typically, this is the first stop for anyone looking for information on your union or a specific topic you covered. To provide a full spectrum of communications, union should also utilize Twitter, Youtube (for video), and direct e-mail contact solutions (with robust opt-out options). We opine services such as Facebook, Instagram, Vine, and the like are not professional means of communicating your message unless your union represents children in the eleven to seventeen year old age group and/or that is the demographic you seek to influence.
Checkout their 5 minute CBA training video! Notice the introduction graphics. Same as their PR video. This is consistent branding. Notice at the end of the video how the attorney directs viewers to the union website.
Most unions have failed to embrace technology, especially those in the public sector. In our experience, most local unions never established an Internet presence or failed to maintain such a presence, arguably worse than never establishing such a presence. It’s time to change.
- National Border Patrol Council
- Union Communications Vital (InformedFed)
- Services for Labor Organizations