Lifting the standard for union campaigns: Creative Unions Manifesto
A few months ago, a colleague and I started a new website called Creative Unions. Both of us have worked for years in the trade union movement, as organisers and in campaigns and communications.
The thing that we noticed was that there was incredible variety in the professionalism of union campaigns, design and communications. While some unions hired professionals, others relied on organisers or communications officers to diverse tasks, ranging from updating websites, writing media releases, designing flyers or preparing policy briefings. Even unions that did demonstrate a high standard for one campaign, could see it drop for another. A near-ubiquitous characteristic of unions was a lack of effective use of new media and social networks.
We decided that we would track down effective union campaigns, design and communications from around the world, and show case them. Our goal was to educate and inform our comrades in the international labour movement. After all, the challenges faced by teachers or public sector workers in Canada are likely to be similar to those in the UK, Australia or New Zealand. A great campaign idea, or awesome poster design for a safety campaign in the EU would be useful for a safety campaign elsewhere.
Most of all, we wanted to lift the standards for union campaigns. Too often, we had seen a union’s posters, leaflets or website fail to meet basic design principles or usability standards. Too often we have seen poorly thought through key messages be demolished by the spin of a well-resourced employer. Too often have we seen thousands of dollars spent on magazines and leaflets with no thought about typography or colour palettes. Too often have we seen tens of thousands of emails sent to members without an ask, or without open-tracking.
Thus was Creative Unions born from these experiences.
After a few months of searching and posting examples of innovative or effective campaigns, we sat down and wrote our manifesto. The manifesto set out the principles we believed would underpin a professional, effective campaign. It covers social networking and new media, design, and effective copy writing. Since then, in addition to posting links to effective posters, websites or campaigns, we have also written blog posts with our advice and ideas about how unions can campaign, communicate or design more effectively.
We have been very pleased with the support from the international labour movement for our website. We have hundreds of email subscribers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers from all around the world, from Burkina Faso to London, from the Czech Republic to Japan and Argentina.
The most important part of the site, is not our opinions. We hold no monopoly on the truth. The real value in Creative Unions is the comments and contributions from the world-wide labour movement. From unionists, organisers, and communications staff telling their stories, their experiences and giving their tips.
The international labour movement has improved the lives of untold millions. Now it is time for us to work together to improve the skills of each other.