Who are you trying to reach, and who else will you be communicating with -- whether you want to or not?

Many union pages are designed first and foremost for local union members, letting them know about local union and union-related community events, their benefits, education programs, what the union is doing to represent them, etc.  All this can provide a useful service for members.  However, every local union considering such a page should keep other potential audiences in mind:

It's a public form of communication.  A web page is different from a local union paper or newsletter in important respects.  For one thing, it is public, whether you want it to be or not.  (It's possible to set up private, password-only sections of a web site, but that will take time and experience, and may never be completely secure.)  Please remember that while many union members are on-line, the public will also have full access to the local union web page.  That means that:

  • Your site can help build your relations with the community.  That's a good reason to highlight community service and coalition work.  It can help build mutual respect if you electronically link your page to other groups in the community and ask them to provide electronic links to your page. 

  • This is a good chance to reach people the union would never normally have contact with.  But many don't understand the first thing about how unions operate, and wouldn't know a grievance from a grinch.  Make sure you make it clear what the union stands for and our democratic way of operating.  And when you use union terms, define them. 

  • Not everyone looking at your page is a union sympathizer.  Our enemies will be using high-speed search engines to look through many union web pages for things to use against us.  If you air internal union politics on your site; or things that could be taken out of context or otherwise misused by anti-union consultants; if you get the facts wrong; if you aren't familiar with union policy or the legal fine points about how a particular issue must be presented, you could give anti-union forces the ammo they're looking for. 

  • Determine ahead of time who will have final authority over what will be published and the procedure for any required editing. 

  • The better we as a union present ourselves to the public as a united body on basic principles and issues, the greater our credibility is as a progressive force in society. 

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