An effective website that showcases the union’s activities and achievements and clearly conveys the benefits of being a SIPTU member is a cornerstone of a comprehensive communications strategy writes Ethel Buckley, Deputy General Secretary for Organising and Membership Development.
During my speech to conference in Galway in November, I spoke to delegates about the need for a new SIPTU website as part of an effective overall communications strategy.
I said we would launch the first phase of a new website in January to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the birth of union legend, Jim Larkin. The site was launched at an event to celebrate the life and legacy of Larkin in Liberty Hall on Friday 26th January. We were honoured to have the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, and his wife Sabina Higgins in attendance.
It was fitting to launch the new site at an event. There are lots of different views on Larkin and his syndicalist approach to trade unionism. However, something that unites all is that he was an astonishingly good communicator who recognised the power of effective communication in organising workers and building a strong union.
Larkin used the communications tools of his day to great effect. He said that “the written word is the most potent force in our modern world” and, true to his beliefs, he established a union newspaper The Irish Worker.
He saw the paper as a means not only to convey union news, but as a critical vehicle for growing the membership and popularising union values. He wrote more than 400 articles in 40 months for the union paper, as well as editing the paper itself – not to mention his role in running the union!
It is in Larkin’s spirit that we embark on this mission of modernising how we communicate with workers, not alone with existing union members but with those who have yet to join the union.
To do so, we must use the modern communications tools available to us to best effect. An effective website that showcases the union’s activities and achievements and clearly conveys the benefits of being a SIPTU member is a cornerstone of a comprehensive communications strategy.
In the first phase of the rollout of the new website and suite of digital communications tools, the site will feature a quick and simple way for workers to join online.
It will also foreground the fight for justice in the workplace, detailing the union’s latest news in relation to victories and disputes, as well as platforming our strategic organising, industrial and political campaigns.
One of the main differences that visitors will notice when they visit the new site is that it uses responsive web design so whether it is viewed on a mobile phone, tablet or desktop the design will adapt to make it accessible on any screen.
This is important because just over half of all visitors to the previous SIPTU website viewed it on a phone which is now the device of choice for news consumers in Ireland.
Another feature is the use of accessible language. Feedback from members is that they want the Union to communicate using plain English.
Members and potential members are put off by the use of overly technical language, jargon or acronyms. They want and expect content that is easy to understand and quick to find.
As we face into what might be a defining year in Irish politics with local and European elections and a general election on the horizon, communicating our vision for fairness at work and justice in society has never been more critical.