We put this video together to highlight our upcoming webinar, “Revolutionize Your Communication.” It’s a story we’ve heard too often — “we don’t have a good way to communicate with our members.” Considering it is such an integral part of every successful strategy for moving labor forward, we decided to do something about it.
Your members are all individuals, but often, it is necessary to communicate with them as a group. What works for getting in touch with member A might not work at all with Members B-Z. In discussing this with the groups we’ve worked with, we have discovered that organizations don’t have a structured communication plan. They’re doing their best using one or two methods to try to reach their membership. The end result of this is that they end up leaving important information out because they simply have no convenient way to get it to their membership in a timely manner.
Understanding your membership preferences, the platforms available to you, and the importance of the information being disseminated are all key factors in getting information out to your members in a timely, cost-effective way. Technology provides several different ways to communicate with your membership.
- Phone calls — this is by far the most common communication platform that we see being utilized. Labor Leaders are making hundreds of phone calls per day to get their message out. While there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned phone call for two-way communication, this platform presents a number of problems.
- The very advantages created by a phone call (personal, two-way communication) are the same aspects that create the problems associated with using the phone. The time involved with making a large number of phone calls only grows when you actually reach the person you are attempting to speak with. A phone call invites the member to provide immediate feedback on whatever information you are trying to share. Worse, there is nothing preventing the member from bringing up completely unrelated items on the call, making the call take even longer.
- Using an automated phone call (sometimes referred to as a “robo call,” is a way to eliminate the interactivity of a phone call, allowing the calls to be completed faster, but many find them annoying and impersonal. If they go to voicemail, it is likely that your members won’t get that information in a timely fashion.
- Postal Service — As the cost of postage continues to rise, the postal service becomes less and less attractive as a way to share information. While some types of communication are relegated to the mail due to legal requirements, these are few and far between. And yet, the amount of money spent on postage by most organizations continues to grow as they try to get their messaging out to their membership.
- While traditional mail doesn’t invite an interactive conversation (making it a great way to share information), it isn’t timely, either. And the cost of a mailing continues to grow. By the time you include the creation of the message, printing, envelope stuffing, and postage, the money you are spending on postage could potentially pay for an entire communications platform on its own!
- E-mail — while e-mail is a universal communication method that has long since surpassed phone calls in terms of worldwide volume, many organizations simply don’t have a platform in place that allows them to effectively share information with their membership via e-mail. Missing e-mail addresses and the lack of a mass e-mail system mean that this form of communication is far less effective than it could be.
- Even with a full list of e-mail addresses, problems can arise that can cause information to miss its mark when using e-mail. Federal anti-spam laws and automated anti-spam engines can cause serious difficulties when trying to send mail to a large list. It is crucial to use a mass-mailing platform for this type of effort. Those platforms comply with all anti-spam regulations in order to ensure your message gets to its target.
- For those who do not rely on e-mail communication every day, e-mail is less of an immediate communication method. (Even for those who do use e-mail heavily every day, we don’t always get information via e-mail in as timely a manner as we would like.)
- Texting — compared to e-mail and phone calls, texting is a relatively new way to communicate, yet has been widely embraced by the global community. It is a great way to share small pieces of information almost immediately. Only the lack of a convenient way to send a text message to hundreds or thousands at once keep this from being the default method of communication with your membership.
- Mass texting platforms solve the problem of sending texts to many recipients at once. Texting allows you to easily and quickly share your message with your membership. The main drawback to mass texting is the cost. With the sheer amount of information you have to share with your members, the cost can add up. Quickly.
- Smartphone app — the smartphone has become ubiquitous. According to Pew Research, 56% of adult Americans owned a smartphone as of May, 2013. As prices drop and non-smartphone options become more limited, this number continues to grow. Leveraging this platform to engage your membership only makes sense. It is something that many of your members are already familiar with. In addition, this is a vehicle that allows you to do much more than simply share information (although it does that remarkably well and very inexpensively). Any type of information that could go on your website could also go into an app. That makes it incredibly easy to share things like:
- Leadership contact information
- Do Not Patronize list
- Apprenticeship & training news/updates
In addition, a smartphone app can make it easy to send immediate messages to those using the app. These notifications (sometimes referred to as “push notifications”) work like a text message, but are built into the app, which means no additional charges. They can also be geographically targeted, allowing you an easy way to limit specific information to those who actually need it (those in a specific city, for instance) or those who are close by and can act on it (for a picket, rally, etc).
Because smartphone apps are interactive, it is also a great way to collect information from members. You can use this to collect physical addresses, e-mail addresses, conduct surveys on specific issues, etc.
None of these communication methods is a standalone answer for every situation. They all have pros and cons. That’s precisely the reason that a structured communication plan is the real solution. Devising a method for when/how to send out information is key to getting your message out to your membership. This is exactly what LeadingLabor can do for you — create a structured communication plan that is specific to your organization. We work with you to understand your needs, your budget, and how best to deliver your message. Tune in to our webinar to find out more. You can sign up for our next webinar here.