Union communications officers from Norway to Sierra Leone, from Latvia to Australia, have convened at EI's Communicators’ Network (ComNet) pre-Congress meeting in Cape Town to share experiences on how to advance their organisations’ agendas.
Colleagues showcased union media campaigns from around the world. Shannon Lederer of the American Federation of Teachers (USA) presented Civic Voices, a joint online project between the AFT with NAPTOSA (South Africa), FECODE (Colombia); ESFTG (Georgia); FDMES (Mongolia); NASUWT (UK); PSLINK (Philippines) and to record the stories of community activists ( www.civicvoices.org).
Pernilla Frantzich of Lararforbundet (Sweden) presented a multimedia campaign centred around the slogan ‘It All Starts with a Good Teacher’ (http://lararforbundet.se/alltborjarmedenbralarare), which included brandishing the slogan outside the last Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm.
Steve Snider from the National Education Association (USA) presented multimedia projects that were developed around NEA's Priority Schools Campaign (www.neapriorityschools.org), which focuses on raising student achievement in the nation's struggling schools. He also encouraged ComNet attendees to visit www.classroomsuperheroes.com to look at the positive promotion of educators.
Communications officers found common ground on many issues, ranging from battling hostile political environments to the more mundane challenges of building a strong media programme with limited resources. In an era of rapidly developing media technology, they also found that unions may find different media useful, depending on what resources members have readily available. Those whose members who have cell phones but limited internet access, for example, find text messages the most effective form of communication.
Participants expressed a great interest in finding ways to strengthen ComNet so that all the unions could benefit from shared resources.
With an eye toward that goal, EI communications staff interviewed small groups of participants to gain specific insights on participants from this wide range of nations would find most useful.