Telling a (digital) UNISON story

We’re lucky in the UNISON communications team: it’s our job to know about the excellent work UNISON branches are doing and the exciting lives that UNISON members lead.

From the nursing students fighting for the future of our NHS by campaigning to save the NHS bursary, to further education members striking for fair pay and branches across the UK achieving the Living Wage for their lowest paid workers. When UNISON members are doing something interesting, we usually get to know about it.

Of course, it’s also our job to know about members facing hardship – like redundancy, low pay, bullying in the workplace and more – sadly, all too common under this government.

Whether the issue is good or bad, once we know about it we then have to communicate it accurately, and to the right people. As well as print materials (U mag, InFocus, posters, leaflets and various other publications) there are several digital channels we use to do this…

The UNISON website

The website is usually our first port of call. If there’s something we need to campaign on – such as the government enacting an unfair and undemocratic Trade Union Bill – we’ll put it in our campaigns section.

If we hear about a member with an incredible personal story – like Phillippa Scrafton, the transgender woman who fought to establish the LGBT group within UNISON – we’ll put her story in the magazine section.

There’s also the events section, sections for each service group, and more. And if it’s a really big story, it will go on our colourful homepage.


Though we have a lot of visitors to the UNISON website we can’t guarantee that the people who need to know about each issue will visit the site, so we have to set our stories free and let them fly like birds. Or, well, email them out.

The weekly email that goes to UNISON activists called eFocus is the main way we do that. It usually goes out on Tuesday and covers the main issues activists need to know about, so they can then tell their members.

Then there’s U digital. This goes to all members that we have email addresses for (and has been known to crash the system). It goes out once a month and includes stories that could be of interest to all UNISON members.

To put stories in eFocus or U digital you can email the editorial team, and if you or anyone you know wants to update your member details and be in with the chance of winning £10,000 there’s still time to enter the big prize draw.

If there’s an issue that we want staff especially to know about we’ll put it in the Staff Daily Update (which anyone can submit stories to).

Social media

There’s also social media. We’re big fans of Facebook as that’s the UNISON member online hangout of choice, but we can also be found on Twitter, and YouTube. We have been known to get our hashtags trending and we might even live stream an event on Periscope.

… and beyond

But that’s not all. If we need to put pressure on an MP or someone else we can set up an online tool that enables members to do so easily. If we want activists to discuss a resource we can put it on the Organising Space. And if we want tell a visual story with images, film and words we can create a long form story like this one – because those nurses really are doing incredible stuff.