Labour and social media: resources and cases from the CALM workshop

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CALM logoLast Thursday, through the kind offices of the Canadian Association of Labour Media, I spent the day with a gaggle of communications professionals from a wide assortment of Canadian labour unions, sharing what I know about the social web and learning about an array of initiatives that various unions have launched in the last while.

So how many of the challenges labour communicators face are the same as those faced by anyone else trying to communicate on behalf of an organization, whether it's a commercial enterprise, a non-profit or a government agency. You have to convince traditional communication types that it's okay to hand some control over web content to the public; traditional budgetary gatekeepers need to learn that you have to staff the community as well as the technology; and we all have to come to grips with the legitimate concerns of open collaboration and conversation in an often-adversarial environment.

Incidentally, I asked my LinkedIn network to suggest their favourite labour-related Web 2.0 initiatives, and they came through with some great ideas. I've credited them below; a big thanks to Gordon Mayer, Mike Old, Martin Roell, Beth Kanter and Mike Gifford.

And a big thanks, too, to Rosemarie Bahr and Sally Leitch who pulled it all together, while at the same time organizing the massive 2008 CALM Conference. I don't know how they do it... I'm just glad they do.

I promised the participants I'd share a slew of links to the resources and cases we looked at, so here they are (it's an anything-but-exhaustive list):

. . .

Hola, folks, and thanks again for a great day.

As promised, here are some links to some of the resources and examples we covered, including:

If you have any you'd like to add, just mention them in the comments and I'll be happy to drop them in.

Thanks again for coming!

Hosted blogging services:

Open-source blogging and content-management software:

Media sharing:

Social networks:

Other social media venues:

Search and media monitoring:

Here are some of the cases we looked at:


Ian Clysdale says

June 3, 2008 - 11:04am
Hi, Rob. In the "way-late-blog-comments" department, since I've been on holidays, I just wanted to say it was a pleasure, and to thank you for the course -- hopefully we'll be in touch. Thanks, ian.

Rob Cottingham says

June 3, 2008 - 1:33pm
I'm really glad to hear it, Ian. And the pleasure was all mine -- thanks so much for taking part!

johninnit says

August 19, 2008 - 5:44am

Hi Rob,

Looks like it was a really valuable session. Saw your LinkedIn request just a bit too late to add to sadly, but you had more than enough to be talking about by the look of it!

Interested to know if you had any thoughts coming out of the session about campaigning/organising in a third party space (given all the exiles from Facebook)? There's a dilemna for campaigners there in either playing on a pitch that's skewed against them, or not getting to play at all.

You make good points about traditional comms culture. This is an interesting one for unions and lots of other organisations. Comms for us has always been about PR/broadcast on the cheap - a small staff using limited resources to leverage the most eyeballs for your organisation's story. The new web is more about organising - 1 to 1 communication. It's expensive to do, and this kind of work is better run by organisers and activists. Problem is, the skills base of webbies in NGOs is still located in comms, as we're the ones who grew into the web, with the last 10 years fiddling away at 1.0. We need to find a way to fill the space where comms and organising converge, which means rethinking how we structure (and as you say, fund) ourselves to talk to the world.

Cheers, John

johninnit says

August 19, 2008 - 12:48pm
oopela! Sorry Rob - only just saw something else about CALM and realised how ludicrously late I was with my earlier comment on this post and another one I left on Bookmarkdevil's antics. My bad - Keep up at the back of the class! :)

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