Solidarity Sunday: Re-election, in a Word...
Allow me to state the blatantly obvious: Your ability to make a difference, serve your members, organize contractors, grow your local, negotiate for better wages and benefits, etc. is predicated on your ability to get elected and re-elected. And with short 3-year terms, you are perpetually running for re-election.
Yes, your record and reputation matter and there are issues to run on and proposed differences in policy that your opponents use to differentiate themselves, but at the end of the day, the science would tell you that a vote boils down to one thing…your brand. Your personal brand matters.
What's the difference between your reputation and your personal brand?
Your Reputation is collection of your past actions, behaviors, and interactions in office including factors like integrity, ethics, accomplishments, and trustworthiness. Your Brand is the sum total of that reputation distilled to its simplest point(s).
Whether we like it or not, that is how people make decisions because branding takes advantage of something called Heuristics, and advertisers, politicians, and big tech have spent billions researching it. A heuristic is a mental shortcut that allows us to make judgments quickly and efficiently. Our brains use heuristics to take short-cuts in simplifying complex decisions for efficiency and survival.
Branding is the process of shaping your perception in the minds of your members, in order to create a positive image and differentiate you from opponents. Simply put, it is stamping that heuristic into the minds of your voters.
In 2016, Donald Trump nefariously used this like a knife to cut his opponents brand down to a simple point: "Low-energy Jeb", "Lyin' Ted", "Crooked Hillary", etc. (Not suggesting you do this, merely pointing out its use)
Familiarity is your key
You may assume, by virtue of your office, that everyone in the local knows you and your brand. But if your local union is like most, most of the same people come to the union meetings, and they are already with you or against you. The election is won in the margins among those who may not come to the meeting but vote in the elections. The longer those members are familiar with you, the better your chances of re-election, because the cornerstone of branding is familiarity.
Merely by being more visible and familiar to as many of your members as you can, the better, because of something called the mere-exposure effect. The mere-exposure effect is a psychological phenomenon by which people tend to develop a preference for someone or something merely because they are familiar with them.
Getting personally involved in communicating with your members and recruiting for new ones through Digital Newsletters and multi-media, New Employee Referral Videos, Podcasts, Recruiting campaigns are all great ways you can ethically conduct the day-to-day business of the local and communicate necessary information to the membership. Doing the business of the local union and improving your brand (and thus virtually assuring yourself re-election) are not mutually exclusive. Lets put a plan together.
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