Goal: Start a conversation with Canadians about the importance of unions in our society

To launch our own agency, Public Response, we wanted to use the occasion of Labour Day 2012 to connect with our community of progressive organizations and trade unions. We wanted to start a national conversation about the current state of the labour movement in Canada, through the old media, the new media and, especially, the social media.

With austerity budgets and harsh criticism of unions popular among Canadian decision makers, our team knew we would need solid research and evidence to move our conversation forward. Working with Abacus Data, we conducted a poll to find out what the public really thinks about unions.

From our numbers, a clear narrative emerged. Canadians who are currently members of unions are happy with the labour movement, and people of all political stripes believe that unions do a good job of representing their members. Young people, in particular, understand the benefits of union membership – a majority of youth under 30 would join a union, if given the opportunity.

However, the numbers also revealed that members of the public, union members or not, are unsure whether unions are beneficial for everyone in our society. It became clear to our team that this is where Public Response can help most – we can help unions tell their story about the great improvements they have made to Canadians’ collective well-being.

The key to increasing the labour movement’s impact is to regain its position as defender of all workers, those in and out of unions.

– Steven Staples and Morna Ballantyne, “Think Unions Are Outdated? A New Generation Disagrees”

To get our message out, our team wrote an op-ed that was featured in old media, like the Winnipeg Free Press and Guelph’s Mercury News, and new media, like the Huffington Post and rabble.ca.

To reach out through social media, we created an infographic that was designed to be shared through Facebook and Twitter, and we partnered with rabble.ca to do a fun, educational poll about the achievements of the labour movement, which received hundreds of responses.

Traditional media outlets also picked up our story and a Canadian Press clip ran on the websites for the CBC, the National Post, the Ottawa Citizen and other news media.

 Results: Millions of Canadians joined our conversation about the state of the labour movement.

Public Response enjoyed an amazing response and a very successful launch.