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Communicating with members

Key points

  • back up personal contact with written information
  • keep it simple
  • communicate with members regularly

The way in which you communicate with members will depend on how many members you are talking to, how much time you have and what you want to say.

Keeping members up to date is important, but in a busy workplace this can be difficult. So try to develop your own methods of keeping in regular contact with your members without it becoming a burden.

Sources of information

It is very important that members are kept informed about the work of TSSA. As TSSA rep, you will receive a great deal of information from TSSA to help you do this, including:

  • circulars relating to your company and the work of TSSA
  • monthly reps bulletins on aspects of employment law and practice in the workplace
  • bimonthly copies of TSSA’s Journal
  • updates about local activities
  • information about local branch meetings
  • posters and headed information paper for noticeboards

Don’t forget to publicise, and make use of, this website!

How you communicate with members

The best method of communication is face-to-face, but you will need to back this up with printed information. Putting posters on noticeboards is crucial as is circulating notices - especially when you need to ensure that members get information in a hurry.

Be realistic about what you can produce and how often. It’s probably better to circulate a basic bulletin on one sheet of paper every month than a more glossy newsletter every six months.

Remember though, that personal contact is still the most powerful way of getting your message across. People are more likely to come to meetings if they are personally invited to come.

Key information for members

The key information that you should circulate to circulate to members includes:

  • elections - dates, procedures, results
  • local meetings - time and place, agenda, reporting what was discussed
  • training courses - details of trade union training courses open to members
  • reports of any action you have taken on their behalf
  • other TSSA information - for example, updates from head office, the Executive Committee or your divisional council

Making meetings work

Getting the location and timing right is crucial if you want to hold successful meetings. Members are more likely to turn up and get involved if they have been consulted about the time and place. Remember to:

  • give members plenty of advance warning
  • always identify the key items to be discussed and make sure they are the first items on the agenda
  • always set and stick to a start and finish time
  • get someone else to take notes
  • report back to members on the results of any action taken on their behalf
  • keep members in touch with developments that occur after the meeting

Tips for effective written communication

Identify your audience

Are you telling existing members about something or do you want to reach potential members too? If so, remember they may not know much about TSSA or the issue you’re covering, so you’ll need to explain more.

Identify the main message

Highlight it in a bold heading that’s instantly visible.

Keep it concise

It’s better for 20 people to read one page than for one person to read 20 pages.

Keep it positive

Try not to overuse the words "no", "stop" or "don’t". Use the shortest words you can think of and avoid jargon, initials, etc. What seems obvious to you may be gobbledegook to someone else.

Make it personal

Use names; talk about "our union" rather than "the Association".

Avoid sexist language

It’s easy to write "he" without remembering that women members would be affected too.

Make it specific

Talk about "unacceptable noise from the building work" instead of "intolerable working conditions".

Keep it simple

Don’t use too many different sizes of type and typefaces - be careful your virtuoso design skills don’t hide your message.

Too many capitals make people think you’re shouting - so use them sparingly. Break heavy blocks of text into columns if you can - people find them easier to read.

Check it over

Get someone to proof read what you’ve done - it’s hard to see your own mistakes, and a fresh pair of eyes may spot something.

Emailing your members

To contact all members of your branch by email, we recommend using a service such as MailChimp. You can sign up for a free account which lets you email lists of up to 2,000 people, sending up to 12,000 messages a month.

General instructions on the use of MailChimp are available in the system, with an introduction here, but after setting up your account you should be able to simply import the CSV provided by MyTSSA and send a message to your members. Do remember to regularly refresh your list from MyTSSA so that new members are added and all details updates are reflected in the addresses that you are using.

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