If I were to say the words ‘Occupy (insert location here)’ to you, what would first spring to mind? Is it the rows of tents in public places, the mini villages of protest or a hashtag?
I’ve been mulling over this question, especially in light of finishing teaching our Communications and Campaigns course where we’ve been exploring the use of communication in union campaign work.
To me, ‘Occupy’ is as just as much about the use of social media, using it to get out its messages and news (I knew about NYC through ReTweets on Twitter) as much as it is about the physical presence of the tents, kitchen, and libraries. But is it the social media that is changing the way we are talking about our economic struggle or is it that physical presence?
This isn’t the normal Stronger Unions post, but you’re all activists, and this is about the sort of economy we live in, so it’s important for union organising, honestly! On Monday, European finance ministers meet in Luxemburg, and the internet petition people Avaaz, who have 6 million supporters worldwide (a lot of them in the UK, interestingly) want our support to press finance ministers to act for the people – and the real economy – not big finance. Their petition says:
As citizens concerned about the economic crisis and massive austerity cuts, we urge you to take bold action to save our economies. Europe must face down the banking lobbies, stop the cuts and urgently introduce the people-centred spending and regulation policies that will secure our future.
Please sign it and encourage everyone you know to sign too.
My first posting for the Stronger Unions blog since starting at the Director of the Organising Academy and what choice I’ve had to write about since joining the TUC! We’ve had the fantastic March for the Alternative which saw 500,000 ordinary people say there is an alternative to the devastating cuts, a new cohort of students on the Diploma in Organising plus the excellent Roundtable on Collective Bargaining . All of these have cemented, to me, the need to innovate the way to organise and gain better conditions for working people.
In the last ten or so years that I’ve been organising, I’ve seen the growth of online communications and social media as a tool to campaign and organise. A self confessed geek, I would often find myself trawling the web for great examples of interaction and engagement. Nowadays, it’s hard to move for great examples of online organising and for discussions on ‘what is online organising’ or ‘using new social media’.
So, I took the opportunity at the Young Members’ Conference to put together a session exploring the use of ‘online organising’. Enter the practitioners and reps who have first hand experience of working digitially or with experience of the affect of online campaigns.
Matthew McGregor (International Director for Blue State Digital) came to us via Skype to deliver the lessons of Wisconsin for UK trade unions. You can see more of Matthew’s take on his blog posting. We also had Lorraine Adams (President, Prospect’s Forestry Commission Branch) who talked about her experience of the ‘Save Our Forests’. Both contributors gave some real food for thought, and here are the lessons I’ve taken away:
Tweets don’t win elections
It’s all very well tweeting, facebooking and blogging, but this activity only takes us so far. There has to be a point to what we’re saying, what we’re getting out there and ultimately it’s about getting people to move away from their sofas, desks or wherever they work to physically do something. Both campaigns showed the need for engagement and getting the message out there by social media, but ultimately it’s the personal relationships and the demonstration of people that makes the difference.
An authentic message
Online campaigning is like traditional door-to-door, workplace by workplace campaigning – the message has to be one that resonates with experience on the ground. Try to manufacture a feeling and the campaign won’t be as successful as it could be.
Don’t forget email
Emailing may now seem as the grandparent of social media, but it is still the most effective way to get out information and ask people to be active. In our rush to talk about Twitter and Facebook, we’re forgetting this still underused resource. We need to explore ways to use email to its fullest capacity if we are to succeed in campaigns in the 21st century.
And, my current favourite campaigning website? I am real fan of the False Economy website. I love it’s interactivity, it’s use of video and just how clear everything is. A real winner for me.
I was pleased to read this article in the Guardian Society Section this morning, an article by Mike White referring to our winner of the TUC 60 Second Ad Winner 2011, Steve Price. It is worth a read. Also check out our winner here in Hyde Park.
We are pleased to announce the winner of the TUC 60 Second Ad Contest 2011. This is another fantastic year for the competition that encourages the making of TV-style adverts to promote trade unions on the web. This years’ brief was the impact of the spending cuts.
It was a very close competition and after careful consideration it is our pleasure to announce that Steve Price with his sit-com film ‘Bringing the cuts home’ is winner of this years’ TUC 60 second ad contest.
Steve Price is an incredibly talented individual. He is a remarkable filmmaker, activist and proud trade union member (BECTU). He found out about the contest whilst searching for UK Uncut movies.
‘Bringing the cuts home’ is an accomplished piece, with great comedic performance, tapping into the outnumbered ‘zeitgeist’, a very worthy winner.
The runners up are a collaborative team of three Heidi Hasbruk, Katya Nasim and Matthew Gutton with their film ‘The Cuts Game’. Their film had a nice concept, brought to life by charming music and performances.
Our other runners up are collaborative team Malfunctioning Robots (Claire Winter and Benjamin Bee), with their film ‘A Novel Solution’, a clever and humorous idea, well executed.
In our highly commended category is Ben Furber from Manchester with ‘Just One Cut’, a nice idea taking a young and modern approach.
Also highly commended were Ross Bull and Helen Macdonald from Agitator studios, Auchmithie, Scotland, with their beautiful animation, helping to convey the facts in a light hearted way.
This years’ competition had some strong entries, and we had a very friendly and expert judging panel, who took a wide and considered view.
Each year the judges are looking out for different things. They all appreciate the hard work and effort that every entrant has put into making their adverts a success. Even if an advert doesn’t win, that doesn’t mean that isn’t a success in its own right. All of the adverts will remain on the site and can be used by different people to continue the campaign against the cuts.
The TUC would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who contributed to the contest this year.
The winning adverts will be seen by hundreds of thousands of people on the big screen at Hyde Park at the March for the Alternative, as well as across the world, including showings at the Geneva Labour film festival and the Washington DC Labour film festival.
The winners will be presented with their award by special guests at our special screening of ‘Waste Land’ at London’s Curzon Renoir on the 31st March 2011.
To watch the ads and most importantly to forward on to your social networking sites follow the links below. This competition must be about action, so sharing these ads is as important as viewing them yourselves, don’t hesitate pass them on.