Photo credit: Terry Evans
Keeping in touch with branch members is essential in these unfamiliar times. The UNISON Cymru Wales Communications Forum met on Friday 22 May and discussed good communications in the lockdown. Here are some of the ideas your branch could use.
Pandemic as a recruitment opportunity
- Where branches have publicised how they have stood-up to bad employers on PPE and other issues and why it pays to belong to UNISON, they have seen an increase in membership.
- Another recruitment tool is to use how hard everyone has been working during the pandemic in tandem with explaining our local government pay claim.
- Continue to update workplace notice boards where possible
Creative ways to engage with members
How can we ensure a UNISON presence in workplaces during the lockdown and how can we support our very busy key workers?
- Branches have delivered chocolates; coffee and alcoholic hand gel to workplaces. Care workers have been asked to contact the branch if they would like a snack pack so there’s no need for them to go to the shops. This has allowed the branch to check and update membership details.
- One branch distributed a quiz to all members to show it’s not only thinking of members in their work situation but it is also concerned about their mental well-being too. It plans to circulate some inspirational quotes. Here’s a Neath Port Talbot UNISON Weekend Quiz
Regularly updating social media
- Photos of members going about their duties shows how hard they are working during the lockdown and go down really well
- Short, positive profiling of branch officers/branch members
- Sharing local UNISON ‘human’ stories – such as the branch chair who caught Covid-19 and wrote about the wonderful care he received
- Advertising on Face Book – one branch paid £80 for an advert, reached 25,000 people and generated 1,500 new website visitors dramatically boosting membership
- Show the welfare support available to members with a link to our There for You webpage
- Newsletters can show how active the union is despite the lockdown. Many branches have focused content on supporting the mental health of members during isolation and how people can access support through UNISON and outside. This is a good way to publicise UNISON courses about well-being. Here’s the Ceredigion UNISON Welfare Newsletter and the Neath Port Talbot UNISON Coronavirus Update May 20
- Use a competition in newsletters as another way to update member contact details: win a voucher if you update details
- A health branch ran a Tell us your NHS story competition to win a £50 voucher; the responses will form one newsletter
Pro-active phone contact
- Calls to members who have indicated they can be contacted to check if they are receiving branch newsletters and emails has gone down well
Online conference tools
- Some, geographically-wide branches have reported online conference-call meetings can help attendance because there is no need to drive anywhere
- One branch has invested in a licence for the online meeting tool, Go-To-Meeting at a cost of £140 for a year
- Whatsapp contact is quick and fun and can help keep UNISON officers and activists together
- Record a short video of a branch officer speaking to camera and upload it to social media. Here’s one Gwynedd’s Matthew Cooling made for International Workers’ Day
- Some branch comms officers have benefitted from the training on how to shoot and edit short films on a phone or IPad. No-one is bothered if the videos are a bit rough and ready at this time
- Other branch comms officers have benefitted from the training on how to make short explainer videos using Lumen 5 – a series of slides telling a story
Other branch activities
- Some branches have contacted local foodbanks and made financial donations