Throughout the month of August (and the first week of September), we’ll be learning about one of the key ingredients that makes Guild School special: our faculty! Check out the blog each week for interviews with instructors and inside information about their Fall Term courses.

 

MEDIA, MESSAGING, AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT
Taught by Lisa Field and Joe Markman

 

Main purpose of the class: understand how to create strategy for media campaigns, stay on message, and develop ease talking to the press

Who should take it: anyone interested in being part of a public campaign, at any level of leadership

Course style: hands-on, group work to share best practices

 

How did this course come about?

Lisa Field proposed the idea for this course to Joe Markman last spring, as one that comes out of the work they do every day at the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA). The MNA runs a number of trainings for nurses, and is continuously educating its members about media and communications, both formally and informally. This Guild course is a way to extend out from the one-day workshop at the MNA, and provide a space to share best practices for unions and union members in dealing with the media.

 

How will the course be structured?

The course will begin by essentially giving students an overview: about how unions are portrayed in the media and why that is; and the value of media, even if its corporate media, of getting your message across to the public. After that, the focus will be on hands-on learning. We will divide the members of the class into small groups that represent union leadership, with each group workshopping a specific campaign. Students will go through the steps of defining an issue, figuring out how to talk about those issues in a way that is accessible to the public, writing a press release, speaking to media on camera, and more.

 

Why is this course important?

Lisa Field: “The public has this idea that union members are thugs and that unions are greedy. And unions ask ‘how do we change that conversation?’ In every union or organization I’ve belonged to, we’ve had that conversation. The Guild is the space to bring those groups together and create a lab for sharing ideas. The last thing we want to do is preach, because we know each union has its own issues and its own culture. We want to bring people together to really dig in and be hands on about this.”

 

What would you tell students who are thinking about taking this class?

Joe Markman: “Despite silos of power that we have in our society, one thing we have is the power of the public. When the public learns about something they’ll get inspired to make change around it.

I was a reporter for about 6 years before joining the MNA; one thing I’ll say is that even folks on different ends of the spectrum do have a problem with the media—the way it focuses on some stories and not others, or the way it can be biased. People might have that skepticism and bring that into the class and that’s healthy, but you can also use the media.

If you’re going to go public, it’s going to be about an issue you know well. It’s not about learning the issue, it’s about learning how to talk about it so people will care about it, and building a strategy around that.”

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