A Union Organization
or Recruitment Campaign

A Preliminary Investigation

Using the tested and proven instruments of marketing research (such as focus groups, surveys, etc.) union officials and I would work together to study the precise needs, perceptions, preferences, attitudes, desires and behaviour of the targeted non-union group.

Recruitment campaigns often tout the advantages of joining a union - more pay, more security, more benefits - rather indiscriminately. The message may vary little when addressing one public or another, one segment or another. After all, it is reasoned, union solidarity is as much the answer to a secure future for a fifty-two year old plumber in Alma, Quebec, as for a teenager serving hamburgers in Brockville, Ontario, or a typist in Sacremento, California.

But contemporary businesses don't necessarily even try to offer the same toothpaste to the plumber, the teenager, or the typist, nor do they talk to them in the same media, nor convey to them the same message. Nonetheless, all three may use three different brands of toothpaste all of them manufactured by Proctor and Gamble!

It would be appropriate for unions to undertake "primary" first-hand exploratory research to attempt to understand and explain the motivations and characteristics of union versus non-union sympathizers. For example, in my Masters thesis, Redefining Marketing: Self-Interest, Altruism and Solidarity, I illustrate how certain characteristics may be more particular to union activists than to opponents of unionization. Oversimplifying at little, one might ask: What are the statistically most significant reasons that one worker is inclined to sign a card while another one refuses.

Organizers must ask the key question: "What does this particular group of non-union workers that we want to recruit need according to them?" One must not only listen to the reply, but also "adapt" as thoroughly and as imaginatively as possible our organization and communications strategies to the answers obtained.

A Written Strategic Plan

After compiling and analyzing the results of the aforementioned research data, a written strategic plan would be submitted to the union executive for discussion and approval.

This plan would include:

Pre-testing of the creative strategy would be undertaken to gauge the comprehension, retention and impact of the union's organizing message.

Implementation and Evaluation

Direct mail, radio, magazine and community newspaper advertising, as well as innovative promotional catalysts are among the many avenues to explore, depending upon the research results and the union's financial commitments.

"Informing" an audience, and "convincing" or "persuading" an audience, are not the same exercise, and each requires different writing and analytical talents. Writers of union copy are often experienced and accomplished print media journalists, but rarely copy writers with an advertising background. Surely union-oriented, advertising-oriented copy writing would bring an interesting perspective to a union communications strategy.

Union communications should also be regularly pre-tested and post-tested during an organizing or any other public campaign. Copy testing of the comprehension, retention and impact of union information is essential so as to scrupulously evaluate the efficiency and value of what we are doing. If not, what's the point in spending those important sums of money.

Finally, the overall results of the campaign, whether a success or failure, would be submitted to a rigorous evaluation.

Please continue reading on about Marketing and boycotts, as well as union organization or membership participation campaigns; or Allen Gottheil's detailed explanation of marketing's relevancy to unions, his answers to some  FAQ's; and union clients in the marketing domain, other union clients; and finally his work experience and education, or return to the introduction on the first page.

If you have any comments, suggestions, brickbats or bouquets ...
Or, If your union organization is planning a major campaign ...
Please do drop a line to: Allen Gottheil: allengottheil@sympatico.ca

copyright © Allen Gottheil, 1999
Montreal, Canada
Tel: (514) 481-7270