Email is still a killer app for trade unions – don’t neglect it in favour of more glamorous technologies. Most trade union activists have email access, and email lists are still the most effective way of reaching large numbers of people.

Email is beginning to lose some of its effectiveness because of the huge volume of messages that most of us get, but a well-organised and comprehensive email list is a fundamental tool in any union activist’s arsenal. Collecting emails is an important part of any activist’s job, and you should do it constantly. Take sign up forms to all your meetings, and send out regular, informative and useful emails. Ask people to forward them.

You can build an email list using a number of free programmes, such as Google Groups. If you want to design attractive emails with graphics, use a program like Mail Chimp. It takes a while to learn how to use, but once you’ve created some templates you can build a sophisticated email delivery mechanism that will also give you feedback on how many emails are being opened, what links are being clicked and so on.

Text messaging and phone banking
Calling people on the phone might be old fashioned but it is proven to work and is one of the most effective ways to mobilise support.

  1. Set aside time
  2. Develop a script
  3. Follow up

Here is an example of a phone bank script, used by USi to encourage branch affiliations:

Phone Bank Script

Hi my name is (x). I’m calling from Union Solidarity International.

You responded to a text message/email indicating that you would like further information on affiliating to USi and participating in our social media and online campaigning courses.

Have you got two minutes to chat?

Q1. Can I ask do you know if your branch has affiliated yet or is in the process of doing so? (Y, N or don’t know)

(Yes): Brilliant, that’s great and thank you for your support. Would members in your branch be interested in participating in our course?

• Would you like information via the post or email about attending the course?

(No/Don’t know): We’re trying to encourage branches to affiliate which can be done for a very small fee online at our website or via cheque. In return branch members would be invited to participate in our course

• Would you like information via the post or email about affiliating and attending the course?

For both of the above.

Thanks for speaking with us today.

Text messaging is also a good way of reaching people. You can send out mass texts by using online programs (you will probably have to pay for each text), or you can build a text tree, where you ask activists to forward texts to people in a structured way.