Composing Your Message

Take just a minute of your members’ time

There may be times when your message has to be longer than 60 seconds, such as explaining why a strike has been called, or giving the essential details of a significant arbitration award. And you certainly will want to give solid and motivating reasons for advocating a course of action. But bear in mind the general rule that “less is more.” Don’t get carried away with your rhetoric and keep your script, if you possibly can, to about 150 words or less. Use the Word Count feature in your word processor to keep track.

State your reason for calling upfront

Make the purpose of your call clear right away. After you introduce yourself, concisely explain why you’re calling.

  • “I’m calling to report on the lack of progress in our contract negotiations and to ask you to give a strong strike mandate to the bargaining committee.”
  • “An important arbitration case that will affect many of our members has been won by the union.”
  • “I’m calling on behalf of the union’s Health and Safety Committee to ask you to take a short survey about safety in your workplace.”

When announcing a meeting or event, do it twice

Don’t wait until the end of your message to tell members about a meeting. Use a “teaser” at the beginning and give complete details towards the end. This will help induce members to listen to your entire message.

  • “A meeting to elect your bargaining committee will be held this coming Wednesday. I’ll give you the details at the end of this message but first I want to explain why it is important that you attend….
  • “… The meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday at the Sheraton Hotel, 1290 King Street, in the Main Ballroom. I hope to see you there.”

Note: By default, every Union Calling callout has a repeat option offered at the end of your message. “To hear this message again, please press zero.” This helps ensure that if another member of the household answers the call and calls your member to the phone, he or she can hear all or part of the message again.

Direct members to your website

If your phone message relates to a subject about which there is more information on your website, it’s obvious you want to direct members there at the end of your call.

  • “More information on this issue is available on the union’s website, www…”

Note: even though it is no longer necessary to type in the iconic ‘www’ in the web browser’s URL field, it is still useful to say ‘www’ in a phone message because hearing ‘www’ alerts listeners that a web address is coming. This signal of what is coming gives their minds a moment to get ready to listen more carefully.

Even if there is no additional information about the callout subject matter on your website, it is still a good idea to occasionally take the opportunity to remind members that there is a union website and that it contains potentially valuable information they may need.

“Finally, I urge you to visit our union’s website, where you will find useful information on current events and work-related union issues. Go to www….”