How to fix the worst email I’ve ever seen (it’s from Air Canada’s CEO)

Michael Roy – September 9, 2022

I LOVE to fly.

Even when the inflight wifi isn’t working or my bag won’t fit in the overhead bin, travelling near the speed of sound literally miles above the earth is a truly magical thing.

I realize this isn’t a common sentiment. Most people dread the process. From security line-ups to finding your gate, to navigating through crowds of people as you race between terminals—all to be herded into a metal tube and squished next to strangers before being launched into the air for hours at a time. What’s not to love?

(It’s important to acknowledge that for racialized folks who regularly get searched at the security gate, larger people who are subjected to anti-fat looks, harassment, and discriminatory airline policies, or trans people who may have to use identification documents that don’t match their gender or name, flying can be a complicated and rough experience.)

During a summer of air travel dysfunction (particularly if you have the unfortunate experience of flying through Toronto Pearson Airport), much has been made of the inability of airlines, airports and government to get things back on track.

Photo by Michael on Unsplash

So what does any of this have to do with email marketing?

Whether you love to fly or have a complicated or even painful relationship with the process, we’ve likely all been affected, or know someone who was affected by the crisis that unfolded in airports this summer. 

Which is why I was intrigued when I received an email from  the CEO of Air Canada, Michael Rousseau, with the subject line “Letter from Mike.”

Email can be an effective tool for marketers. Whether you’re a brand, a non-profit, a political party, or a labour union, emailing your members, supporters, and customers allows you to communicate directly to them in a unique and powerful way. 

An email that should have served to repair an increasingly fraught relationship was instead a 750-word long corporate communique

It’s not surprising then that the president of Canada’s largest airline reached out directly to his beleaguered company’s most loyal customers—their Aeroplan loyalty program members—to apologize and begin to rebuild the trust his company has lost.

To my dismay, an email that should have served to repair an increasingly fraught relationship was instead a 750-word long corporate communique. 

As I waded through run-on sentences made up of too many $5 words, I didn’t find the personal message from “Mike” that the subject line promised. Instead, I found a series of excuses that tried to lay the blame for Air Canada’s troubles at other people’s feet, and meaningless statistics meant to reassure me that things were getting better.

American email strategist Martha Patzer made the point some years ago that your supporter’s (or customer’s) inbox is a personal space into which you invite brands and causes with whom you want a relationship. Unlike a billboard or a TV ad, you have to invite brands into this space – your space – and with that invitation comes a responsibility for those organizations to build trust with you.

When I write a campaign email for a client, I ask myself “Does this email build trust with the supporter – or break it?” What I’m really asking is: is this message genuine? does it speak to an issue that matters, and does it give the reader a meaningful solution to the issue at hand? Email marketers that answer these questions well know that each time we have the privilege to enter someone’s inbox is an opportunity to deepen our relationship with them.

During a summer marked by thousands of stories of stranded air travellers – many of them Air Canada customers – Michael Rousseau had an opportunity last week to connect with people who were stressed or angry about their air travel experience.

Does this email build trust with the supporter – or break it?

He chose to open his letter by talking about how “conditions in the global airline industry were impacting you” – when he could have built trust by acknowledging how hard this summer has been for anyone who was travelling to see their family and friends for the first time in three long pandemic years.

Instead of using awkward corporate language like “the results are trending positively”, he could have shared a story about one of his front-line team who was above and beyond to help travellers facing delays.

And perhaps instead of sharing stats about “baggage mishandling rates per 1,000 customers”, he could have shared a moment of vulnerability by saying how sorry he was that things were so difficult for so many people – and that he was going to do his very best to get things right as soon as possible.

He might also have closed his email not with an assurance that his company is “eager…to transport me safely”, but instead invited me to imagine my next trip – after these disruptions are over – and to explore some of the places I can fly to in the future.

On Air Canada, of course.

Cover photo by David Vincent Villavicencio on Unsplash.

With municipal elections set to kick off across BC and Ontario in mid-September, candidates for city council, school board, park board, and other municipal offices are looking for free and affordable tools to use to support their campaign efforts.

Thanks to strict campaign finance laws in BC and elsewhere, municipal campaigns have to work with tight budgets – and make wise choices in building their “tech stack”.

At Metric, we work with a wide variety of tools to support our political and advocacy clients. We’ve put together a list of tools that we think municipal campaigns might benefit from this fall, and why we would choose them.

On cost versus usability

There is no perfect tool for campaigning – every piece of technology has benefits and drawbacks.

With that in mind, we have prioritized tools that are free (or quite cheap), with a heavy emphasis on ease of use, and working well with other tools in the list.

In short – campaigns should be in the business of campaigning, not supporting a lot of technology. As a result, we are recommending tools that are simple to use over ones that might be more powerful.

A note on security

With our recommendations for subscription services, we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the importance of security. Hacking and data theft incidents are on the rise, and there is a chance that any candidate might be targeted by foreign state actors, criminals who want to hold your data hostage or a rival campaign.

The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has produced a guide for political candidates that’s worth taking a look at.

Here are three simple recommendations we would urge every campaign to follow:

  1. Don’t share logins for anything. If multiple people need access to a Twitter account or email tool, use LastPass or a similar tool to create and share a secure password that your team can’t see. Their autofill tool keeps your logins secure – and can even audit your passwords for free.
  2. Use 2-Factor Authentication. This might be the single most important thing you can do. We strongly recommend using Google Authenticator or a similar tool rather than text message 2FA – but this helps to safeguard your accounts in the event that a login is compromised. Set this up on every system and social account as soon as possible.
  3. Lock your devices and always delete downloaded data. Make sure everyone who has access to campaign tools has a password on their laptop and mobile phone, and make it clear that any downloaded list has to be deleted as quickly as possible. Stolen devices account for a large number of security breaches.

Team Internal Communications

  • Slack (free*). A mainstay of workplace communications, Slack is an instant messaging platform that many organizations and campaigns use to replace the bulk of their internal emails. It’s instant, offers great apps on desktop and mobile, and includes a free tier that you can sign up for instantly. https://slack.com/

Website

  • Squarespace ($23 USD/ mo, $29.70 CAD/mo). Websites are a critical part of every political campaign – but when your budget is limited, we don’t believe they’re something you should spend a lot of time and money on.

    Tools like Squarespace (and Wix) allow anyone to build a drag-and-drop site from any number of beautiful templates – enough to give you a basic candidate bio, some information on your positions, embed a video if you have one, and create volunteer signup and contact forms with zero technical skills. While you can certainly do much more with a website (and Squarespace will allow you to do more), our suggestion is to keep it simple. https://www.squarespace.com/

  • WordPress ($14 USD/mo, $17.90 CAD/mo). We’re big fans of the world’s most popular website content management system – and use it for many of our client projects. While slightly more complex than Squarespace, WordPress is much more powerful and supports a wide array of themes and plugins (including an Action Network Plugin). WordPress.com offers simple plug-and-play solutions on a monthly plan. https://wordpress.com/

Graphic Design

  • Canva (free*). Canva is a free web-based graphic design tool with a myriad of built-in templates, fonts and images that lets you rapidly create everything from social media content to videos to leaflets without any special software. While not as powerful as Adobe Indesign or Illustrator, Canva offers a very shallow learning curve and will give even the most low-resource campaign great-looking graphics in no time.

    Canva also offers a paid tier with additional templates, stock images, and fonts starting at $13USD/mo / $16.60CAD/mo. https://canva.com

Email Marketing

  • Gmail (free). Sometimes the simplest solution is the best. Gmail accounts are free, help ensure high deliverability, and you can create an account dedicated to your campaign ([email protected]). Gmail allows you to send an email to up to 500 recipients in a single send (don’t forget to BCC everyone!), and using powerful plugins like Yet Another Mail Merge ($25USD/yr / $31.95CAD/yr) you can get powerful analytics and use custom merge tags from Google Sheets. https://gmail.com
  • Action Network (free* or $10/month depending on need). Created by the American labour movement to power progressive campaigns, Action Network has expanded its offering significantly in the last few years and has recently launched in Canada in partnership with the Canadian Labour Congress.

    Action Network unites email marketing, text messaging, sophisticated automation, event management, and sign-up actions into a single platform that easily integrates with popular campaign tools as well as any website platform.

    It’s our go-to digital toolset at Metric, and we highly recommend it. The free tier allows you up to 10,000 email sends per month, and the paid tier starts at $10 USD/mo / $12.78CAD/mo) and adds many powerful features.

    It also offers donation pages and donation processing using the Stripe payment processor. https://www.actionnetwork.org

  • Nationbuilder (starting at $41 USD/mo / $54 CAD/mo). Launched in 2011, Nationbuilder has become quite popular among Canadian non-profits and political campaigns of all stripes. It was recently used by the Pierre Polievre campaign to sign up tens of thousands of members to the Conservative Party.

    The toolset combines a website builder, bulk email and texting, voter contact and donation processing into a single, easy-to-use platform.

    Sounds great, right? Well, we have a love/hate relationship with the platform.

    The good: it does everything in a single tool.
    The bad: it doesn’t do any of those things especially well.

    Our advice is to choose tools that are easy to use and do a few key things really well. Action Network or Mailchimp are superb email marketing tools. Squarespace is a very simple, powerful website builder.

    That said, Nationbuilder is a powerful toolset that may be the right fit for some campaigns. https://nationbuilder.com

Text Messaging

A note on text messaging in Canada.

Text messaging rules are quite different in the US and Canada. Peer-to-peer (P2P) texting took off in the US 6-8 years ago because bulk texting to people who had not opted in wasn’t allowed – and P2P got around this limitation.  In Canada, political campaigns are permitted to send automated text messages to people who haven’t opted-in – however, service providers like Twilio, and industry groups like the CWTA may not allow this – so buyer beware.

  • Action Network ($50 USD/mo / $63.88 CAD/mo). Action Network offers a powerful text-messaging service (they call it mobile messaging) that combines bulk texting, automated follow-up and supporter journeys, and the ability to manage individual conversations with supporters.

    We love the toolset – and the cost makes it accessible to any size of campaign. https://actionnetwork.org/partnerships#sms_table

  • GetThru ($100 USD setup, $0.08 USD per message / $127.75 CAD setup, $0.10 CAD per message). GetThru is a peer-to-peer texting platform that enables you to reach out to a large number of supporters or voters to initiate real conversations.

    While P2P isn’t required in Canada the way it is in the US, P2P remains a popular alternative for campaigns that have built text messaging lists to use for voter engagement and turnout. https://www.getthru.io/p2p-texting-politics

  • Community ($99 USD/mo / $126.50 CAD/mo for 1000 subscribers). Community is a new kind of texting platform – specifically created to build community, rather than broadcast your message. Used by many celebrities, Community creates an individual phone number your supporters can text, enables a conversational flow by using AI to cluster messages, and allows you to send a common response.

    NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was the first Canadian politician to launch his Community number back in 2021 – and since then Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden have also joined the platform. https://community.com

Other

  • LastPass.com (free*). With data breaches on the rise, security is more important than ever even on the smallest political campaigns. As you create accounts for you and your team to use, we strongly recommend using secure passwords (NOT FirstLast2022) stored in a secure password management system like LastPass. Their free tier can be shared by multiple staff/volunteers, but we recommend paying the $4USD/mo / $5.10CAD/mo for the family plan that allows up to 6 individual users. https://www.lastpass.com/ 

  • FreeConferenceCall.com (free*). While Zoom, Teams, and Hangouts have become the norm thanks to the pandemic, sometimes you just need a simple conference call. FreeConferenceCall.com offers a simple free (or pay what you can) service to keep your team connected in a low-tech way. https://www.freeconferencecall.com/pricing

Photo by by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Metric Strategies won six Reed Awards for our work on various campaigns and ads. The awards include:

  • Best Canadian Online Ad Campaign
    • “It’s about time//SecondsMatter.ca,” Calgary Firefighters Association
  • Best GOTV Campaign to Mobilize Young Voters
    • “Vote is four letters,” Canadian Labour Congress
  • Best International Online Video (National)
    • “Still Loading…,” Canada’s NDP
  • Best International Issue Campaign (Sub-National)
    • “Get Flushed,” BC Building Trades
  • Best Podcast Ad
    • “Vote is four letters,” Canadian Labour Congress
  • Best Canadian Online Video
    • “Jagmeet Singh video,” Canada’s NDP

Find out more about each award and the thinking behind the ad.


Best Canadian Online Ad Campaign

“It’s about time//SecondsMatter.ca,” Calgary Firefighters Association

The Brief: A strong message, a powerful creative and a meaningful call-to-action is what makes a successful campaign.

The Execution: The campaign for Calgary Firefighters Association not only won the award for Best Canadian Online Ad, but it was a victory in getting Calgary City Council to support better fire protection in Calgary.


Best GOTV Campaign to Mobilize Young Voters

“Vote is four letters,” Canadian Labour Congress

The Brief: Meet young voters where they were at with this ad.

The Execution: The Canadian Labour Congress’ podcast ad won Best GOTV Campaign to Mobilize Young Voters. It’s important to meet the audience where they are at.


Best International Online Video (National)

“Still Loading…,” Canada’s NDP

The Brief: Tap into the frustration of waiting for something people rely on.

The Execution: Frustrated at something loading super slowly? We tapped into that feeling to remind voters that the Trudeau Liberals were failing to deliver for Canadians.


Best International Issue Campaign (Sub-National)

“Get Flushed,” BC Building Trades

The Brief: Use humour to cut through the noise to get a health issue noticed.

The Execution: The “Get Flushed” campaign used humour to get a simple message across–everyone has the right to a proper place to use the washroom at work.


Best Podcast Ad

“Vote is four letters,” Canadian Labour Congress

The Brief: Use the power of podcast advertising to connect with hard-to-reach voters.

The execution: Podcast ads are a powerful tool that can help you reach wide audiences. The Canadian Labour Congress’ “Vote is four letters” won the award for Best Podcast Ad and we’re pleased to help make this happen.


Best Canadian Online Video

“Jagmeet Singh video,” Canada’s NDP

The Brief: Show Jagmeet’s personality and warmth. We want to bring the viewer into his family life and story.

The Execution: Showcasing Jagmeet Singh’s personality and warmth helped make him connect with voters across Canada. We’re proud this video won the award for Best Canadian Online Video.

Photo by Ajeet Mestry on Unsplash

I know we’re the seven-second attention span generation so I’m going to challenge you to stick around to the end. Ripped straight from Laurie Antonin’s LinkedIn profile, she’s a digital campaigner, strategist, organizer and disruptor.

She’s been building the roadmaps to empower activists and now she’s switching to GPS-mode to help all of us navigate safely to our destination. Laurie has a knack for breaking through barriers with her storytelling abilities.

But in order to talk about breaking through in organizing — first, we need to break it down.

“My mission is to show we don’t have to be typecast.”

Laurie, who is a Black Caribbean Canadian, says it again to make sure we hear the message loud and clear: “Why can’t someone like me take up this space?  I did it.”

Laurie is leading national digital campaigns for the largest labour organization in Canada. 

Every superhero has a great origin story

“From a really early age I knew [my siblings and I] were different, we stood out. I remember my mom would just always praise our Blackness. She’d say it didn’t matter what people thought about us and that we are meant to be loud and stand out. I think that’s something that stuck with us.”

Laurie says her mom grew up on a farm in Haiti — where she’d hear planes fly over the house — and imagine one day she’d be on those planes. And surely enough that day came.

“I thought it was so interesting because she couldn’t imagine where those planes were heading, she just knew she had to be there. She strived to seek out the unknown, and fight for better, maybe that’s why I operate in a similar way.”

Things got ugly, then they got better

“My life changed when I got involved with the union and became a steward at the job I was holding down at a boutique hotel.” 

She said things got really ugly at one point at her job, they wanted to cut out an entire department. 

“I simply refused to have those people lose their jobs, so we refused until they locked us out,” she said. “We had the weight of all the workers and their families on our backs. I remember making sure everyone was on the same page about how to strategize and vote in a direction that would show the employer that we were ready to stay out there as long as was needed.”

While they weren’t able to get everything they wanted, they secured compensation that wasn’t previously on the table. 

“Looking back, I love the work we did because if we hadn’t organized — it would’ve been a different outcome.” 

Like they usually do, Laurie’s employers caught on to her organizing and mobilizing skills — and started cutting her hours. 

Fortunately, her union had her back and sent her straight to their national office. 

Leading Nation-wide change

It didn’t take long for Laurie to find a campaign to get behind. Mental health would be the first big campaign she ran in 2012, talking to workers across the country, at a time when digital organizing was just starting to be a thing.

“We were doing fun things like getting people to send tweets and text other people — not knowing that was going to be something that became more automated now,” Laurie said.

In 2014, Laurie also ran a campaign to get more young people involved in their union. She put a committee of young workers together and had held an event around it. She said more than 3,000 young people participated across the country.

Finally, Laurie landed at the Canadian Labour Congress. She was the national representative for the anti-racism and human rights department. 

“They were expecting me to just do policy,” she laughs at the memory. “But I was like hold on a second, let’s get CLC on the map! Let’s do something different.”

So she got work making sure every single email was in the database of people who were doing human rights work in unions around the country. 

“At a time when we weren’t as sophisticated as where things are right now, we said let’s throw the largest human rights conference you’ve ever seen. Let’s do things differently.”

Laurie says in order to help people understand why they should care about human rights they created a virtual experience. In 2016, Laurie’s team brought people into the world of a refugee that moved people to tears.

“We used visuals and video to really tell a story that connected — people cried — but then we would say this is why we do this work. Sign up to get more information from us,” Laurie said.

“I want to challenge what doesn’t exist to bring something more to people.” 

She said if you want people to take action you have to take them to a place where they can connect with the problem and see themselves in the solution. You also need to surprise — or ‘wow’ — people and give them something they wouldn’t expect.

Digital movement and meeting people where they’re at

“It’s the only way you can get people’s attention,” Laurie said. “The more I started to do this work — bringing people on a journey —  the more digital tools made more sense.” 

“If you’re trying to build a movement or bring people from one place to another — whether that’s physically or emotionally — you have to be able to tap into where they are at any point of their day.”

Even before the pandemic, more people are becoming more insular, they’re focused on the day-to-day, just trying to balance all their responsibilities. What they end up missing is that it’s actually their own civic action that can change the world they live in.

“Create an experience that meets them where they are and gets them out of their day-to-day lives.”

“The pandemic forced us to slow down for a second and tune into the moments that were presenting itself at-hand. We saw racial injustice come to light, frontline workers working in uncertainty, racial tensions — it was a moment for us to slow down and see what kind of world we’re living in and the effects it had on individuals.

She said technology and digital engagement found its home in bringing those issues to the surface, forcing people to educate themselves and think of ways to get involved. Many people understand the power of coming together — there’s an energy there — during the pandemic people were offered tools to have an impact. 

Celebrating the successes

“I’m always in the hustle — the moments where we’re pushing, testing, trying something new, going back, making it better, fighting for people to see our vision — it’s a constant hustle.”

Success happens all the time but we need to stop and see what kind of changes we won.

“Always change up the way you do your strategy, your outreach, never keep it the same. If people know what to expect, don’t expect them to do something different if you do it differently.”

For those of you who scrolled through to the end a pro-tip from Laurie: Always get phone numbers and never stop talking to them.

As we all stumble out of the dumpster fire that was 2021, Canadian unions like the larger country are seeing significant changes across the board. Discussions around fairness, equality, and working conditions are changing the conversation about work in Canada. And in the process, creating a real opportunity for unions to organize new workplaces, and deepen relationships with their existing members.

Here are four trends (or as we at Metric call them: opportunities!) in digital campaigning that we think every union should be acting on in 2022:

1. TikTok

Let me start by getting this out of the way. No – you DON’T need to post a TikTok of your president doing the latest TikTok dance trend (in fact: it’s probably more powerful if TikTok content is made by your members!)

But with explosive growth through 2021, and over-represented reach among women, parents, and diverse communities, TikTok is worth paying attention to as a way to engage — and organize.

As TikTok continues its growth in 2022, forward-thinking unions should consider paid and organic opportunities on TikTok to reach members (and potential members). Especially younger Canadians using the platform.

The bottom line: Invest in growing platforms to reach your members — and to organize new ones.

2. Digital organizing

There’s no doubt about it — we’re solidly in the era of digital organizing.

From politics to brand advocacy, organizations are increasingly asking their supporters to take meaningful real-world action for the causes they care about.

Whether it’s AirBNB encouraging its hosts to put pressure on city councils, or the Canadian Labour Congress mobilizing thousands of citizens to meet (virtually) with their members of parliament, campaigns have moved beyond clicktivism and into a space where supporters and activists want a meaningful role to play.

A prime example from the recent 2021 federal election was the NDP’s “Team Jagmeet” program. Volunteers from across the country were invited to join together, connect with organizers, resources and training opportunities in order to campaign — all from their laptops and tablets. This community of volunteers were able to hit the ground running: making calls, sending text messages, and organizing “friend-banks” in key battleground ridings where their efforts would have an impact.

The bottom line: Build ways for your members (and supporters) to play a meaningful role in your campaigns work.

3. Responsive text messaging

As soon as I became eligible for my COVID booster in December, I received a nice text message from the BC government telling me it was my turn and asking me to register.

From COVID vaccines to meal delivery to technical support, people find text messaging to be an easy way to engage with the organizations and services that matter to them. But the impersonal broadcast messages of yester-year no longer cut it. People are demanding relevant notifications and interactive responses to their texting interactions.

One of our favourite new tools for easy, interactive text messaging is the Action Network mobile messaging. It enables you to use an incredibly affordable platform to seamlessly integrate interactive text messaging with your email and advocacy campaigns. You can even build interactive conversations using the Ladders feature.

The bottom line: Your members expect positive, relevant interactions with their union. It’s easy to deliver that by text message.

4. Taking action based on data insights

We’ve been hearing about “big data” for years. From political campaigns to retail, big data is already impacting every area of your members lives. 

Unions have long been collecting important data on members — from where they live to their history of engagement with the union — we’ve been trained to keep track of everything in our database. But what good is all this information if we can’t act on it?

This is the year to change that. From using census data to draw inferences about your members (like their age or whether they own or rent their home) to proactively identifying new activists and volunteers, building on your data collection work can have big pay-offs.

The catch? It’s probably time to move to more modern and scalable tools than Unionware or Nationbuilder — and embrace a culture where good data helps you make better decisions.

The bottom line: Employers have used big data for decades to maintain the upper hand. It’s time for unions to level the playing field.


Michael Roy is the Managing Director and Founding Partner at Metric Strategies.

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

It’s time for you to say goodbye to the Facebook boost button.

Yes, you read that right.  And I know what you’re thinking – my members and supporters won’t see our thoughtful and important posts without ad dollars behind them. While there is some truth to that, relying on the boost button reveals a deeper problem: your union doesn’t have a digital ads strategy, and it needs one.

With social media advertising on track to surpass television advertising for the first time in 2022, digital ads should be taking centre stage in every union’s ad strategy.

For many unions, advertising can be an effective tactic ahead of bargaining, or during political action campaigns. TV, radio, and billboards are what come to mind – big, splashy campaigns designed to have a big impact in a short time. In between those big campaign moments, the boost button helps you keep your Facebook content in front of the right people. Right? Actually, not so much. Boosting should never be part of your social media strategy and here’s why:

When you boost a post on Facebook, you’re basically just asking Meta to show your content to your followers. The thing is, good organic content should be seen by your followers anyway and if it’s not, you have a different problem to solve. 

There are also some technical limitations to boosting. Specifically, it doesn’t let you do a lot when it comes to targeting an audience and doesn’t allow you to share your content beyond your existing followers. Basically, why would you pay Facebook to do what it already does?  

There are some really powerful tools that can make sure your message is heard in a cost effective way, including Google Ads and Facebook Ads Manager. Using these tools, you can create content that is designed to achieve specific goals like signing up for info sessions, subscribing to email lists, taking advocacy actions, participating in contests and surveys and so on and so on.  

The truth is, boosting is a bad idea no matter how you look at it. But, there are ways to pull together an effective digital ads strategy with big and small budgets alike.

Every union – be they a national union or a regional local – should have an ongoing digital ads strategy in place, helping to ensure member communications, public engagement, and new member organizing are getting the attention they deserve. Here are three things your ads strategy should include:

[Search ads image]

Google Search Advertising. Your union should be running search ads 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, helping members (and potential members) find you and your outreach team. Search ads are cheap and can be particularly helpful in amplifying your message when your union gets earned media. It’s also a great tool for new member organizing – helping people who want to form a union in their workplace find the answer to “how do I join a union” – and giving your organizing department strong organizing leads.

Hint: Businesses are taking up a lot of space in the paid search arena. There’s a big opportunity for your union to be found and heard from by being present in paid search. 

[retargeting ad example image]

Retargeting ads. You probably know what retargeted ads are even if you’ve never heard the term. You know the ones – you visit CanadianTire.ca checking out a tool, and then for days after you see ads everywhere you go for that very tool.

This is retargeting – serving ads based on a user’s past behavior. And they can be a great way to engage your members and supporters.

First, make sure you’re set up with tracking pixels on your union and campaign websites so you can retarget visitors. Whether that’s the union’s member resource centre or an important campaign issue – you want to be able to passively follow up with your people.

Second, consider a low-cost, ongoing retargeting strategy, reminding your members of the resources that are available through the union, and engaging campaign supporters to take the next step for public advocacy.

You can run retargeted ads on nearly any platform – make sure you’re set up to take advantage of this powerful technology.

Lead generation ads. From organizing to political action to staying connected with your members, you should always be building and updating your lists. Lead generation ads are a great way to help do this.

Make sure you always have a variety of action pages – be that a petition, a new member sign-up for info page, or a New/Mode action page. More options mean more actions that allow members and supporters to engage your union. 

Every sign-up is an opportunity to grow your public-facing supporter list, or keep your membership data fresh as people move, change cell phones, or get a new email address.

Set a monthly ads budget. Ads can be easy to do – but not every union has the capacity to do this work in-house. Consider talking to your communications or digital firm about an on-going ads strategy to support member engagement, organizing, and political action. Early investments mean that when your union needs to take on a fight – you’re starting from a place of strength.


Savanna Pelech is Metric’s Digital Manager.
Michael Roy is Metric’s Managing Director and Founding Partner.

Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

Meet June Liu. She’s Jagmeet Singh’s former CA, the field fundraiser at the BC NDP, and now an NDP candidate in this election.

June sat down with Metric’s Creative Director, Robin Steudel, to discuss fundraising, campaigning, and being an Asian woman in progressive politics.


What made you interested in politics?

I was a really loud and outspoken kid. I was that kid on the playground getting into fights on other people’s behalf. I think my parents, most of all my mom, decided “Okay, she has this passion for trying to do the right thing. Let’s channel that into something constructive, so she doesn’t rip out somebody’s hair.”

Tell me about fundraising. How do you do it?

At the core of it, it’s not hard. The reason we fundraise is because we want to make lives better for people. When I encounter my friends, or their kids, I think, “I want to build a better future for you. I want to make sure that you’re growing up in a more equitable, more fair world and that you have more access to things than I do.”

You have to reach into yourself and find what it is that compels you. Like, if you’re fundraising for an environmental organization, what is it that really matters to you? Maybe you saw a documentary about the dwindling populations of polar bears, and that stuck out to you. You have to dig deep and find what drives and motivates you, so you have that fire within.

People can always tell when you don’t believe what you’re saying. Like, even if you paid me to fundraise for a Republican, I wouldn’t raise any money because I would just sound sarcastic the entire time. Like, “Oh no, whatever are we going to do with only three jets for this Congress person? They need a fourth private jet. How will they survive without it?” That’s how it’d come across because that’s what I’d be thinking. 

How has fundraising changed during the pandemic?

I think connecting with people on a human level works, especially in person. And that’s definitely harder in pandemic times. But people are still really into interactive events. For example, everyone wants to hang out with John Horgan. 

Food delivery combined with eating online together has worked super well. All of us are craving that ‘dining out with friends’ experience. Or even mailing something as simple as a tea bag, and saying, “Let’s have tea together.” 

In the absence of in-person human interaction we can still create that neighborhood community feeling. It’s reconnecting people with their communities. It’s reminding them that, “Hey, you are a part of something bigger, and your actions impact those around you.”

How do you sell tickets for these events?

Nothing works better than a phone call. Nothing works better than some somebody saying, “Please buy a ticket and hang out with me.” That personal touch really is what compels people.

Is anyone out there having success doing email fundraising?

Yeah! Our emails definitely work. As much as people say they hate getting them, they sure as heck do love donating to them. And I will say I’m one of those people that falls for it. I got a fundraising email from someone today, and she mentioned her grandma, and I was like, “I guess there’s 20 bucks.” So emails absolutely do work.

Do you have any advice for small organizations who are looking to start fundraising?

I think the biggest thing is that you just can’t be shy about it. There’s no beating around the bush, just get to the point, and people will respect that. 

Switching gears, can you speak to your experience as a woman of colour working and running in politics?

I think that in politics—including in progressive politics —you get all kinds of people: some who are allies and some who aren’t. There’s work that progressives need to do. The biggest thing that I’ve had to learn is to really find my voice and stand my ground. A lot of times, there are misconceptions about Asian women: that we are docile, we’re submissive, we’re quiet. 

I’ve never been quiet in my entire life. I came out as a force of chaos. But subconsciously or not, people have the tendency to silence me. It definitely takes the work of other allies speaking up. But it also takes finding that peace within myself. 

I think in those times it’s important for me to speak up, because if not me who else?

What kinds of things can we do to make progressive spaces more genuinely inclusive?

People and progressive groups need to take the time to really think about who they have representing their space and their movement. It’s important to have representation without tokenization.

What do you think sets your candidacy apart? 

There are a lot of people of colour living here in Surrey. It’s actually only about 46% white. And yet we’ve only had a handful of elected representatives who are people of colour. 

Representation matters. As a young Asian woman, growing up seeing Jenny Kwan being an MLA and an MP, and seeing Katrina Chen, Anne Kang, Bowinn Ma in the public sphere definitely made me think, “Oh, hey. I look like her. We speak the same language. Maybe one day I could be like that.” And now, I want other women and girls to see me as somebody who is their team member, as a collaborator, as somebody that is here to work with—and represent—them.

Tell us about your connection with the City of Surrey.

Well, I grew up here. I actually used to work for the City and sat on the Social Planning Committee as a youth representative. I saw firsthand the importance of social policy and really doing what you can at every level to ensure that people are able to access the things that they need.  It’s been really eye opening. Through seeing what needs to be provided, you also see the barriers. And that really just made me think well, what can I do?”

What would your priorities be? 

First of all, consultation. If you’re not talking to people, you’re not representing them. That’s what’s been a driving force for me. I want to talk to people, I want to know what people need. I want to deliver what my community needs. I’m that person who can do it. 

Sustainable development, inequality and housing are big for me. For the love of God, stop building million dollar condos in a place where the median income is $45,000! People get pushed out of their neighbourhoods. You don’t want to uproot a third grader for example, and send them to a different school just because a developer bought out all the land and now their family can’t afford to live there. 

How are you planning to connect with people for your campaign?

A really big part is meeting people where they’re at, even if I can’t reach them at home. Let’s say you live in a high rise; it’s not necessarily accessible. I still want to be there in your community at a park nearby and have those conversations. I want to make sure that politics is accessible to everyone.

I want to make sure that we aren’t leaving digital campaigning behind either. At the end of the day, while these tools come with some barriers, they do remove a lot of others. That’s something we’ve seen in the pandemic too. 

And, people are getting creative in the pandemic! There’s a city councillor in Taiwan who actually has an Animal Crossing constituency office. It’s so good!You can actually go to her constituency in the game, and submit genuine real-life questions about your community, and her office will reach out and help you. Fun and accessible!

What messages do you want to share with people during your campaign?

I want to remind people that politics affects your everyday life—from the moment you wake up and brush your teeth. Your toothpaste is regulated by laws to keep you safe. Your water comes from your local government and they need to make sure that it is drinkable, that it’s not going to hurt you. Politics is everywhere. Everything you do is related and you should care because your voice matters.


Whether you’re a labour union, political party, or non-profit, here are four crucial ingredients to run a successful digital campaign: be remarkable, targeted, memorable, and engaging.

The shift to online marketing and digital organizing has been happening for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated the digital transformation. With more and more organizations, companies, and brands upping their digital game, it’s getting harder and harder – particularly for smaller organizations – to get noticed.

Leah is Metric’s new Director of Campaigns and she’s pulled together some sure-fire ways to make sure your campaign will break through in an increasingly competitive digital world.

1. Be remarkable. 

Our number one goal – regardless of the topic, issue, or organization – is to drive action that creates change. To do that, we need a message and creative approach that is provocative, fresh, and compelling. Think about some of the most memorable television or online ads you’ve seen (including classics like “I Am Canadian” or “Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth”). What makes them stick in your mind? Many of the most famous campaigns stand out because they made good use of messaging and creative content that stands out in some way whether by surprising the audience, evoking an emotional response, or tapping into the audience’s value system. 

Recently, Metric partnered with the BC Building Trades on a campaign advocating for flush toilets on construction sites. The campaign tagline ‘Get Flushed’ is catchy and provocative while still communicating the ultimate goal of providing construction workers with flush toilets – yes you read that correctly, BC construction workers are currently being denied this basic workplace right. 

Being remarkable requires you to know who you’re speaking to, or who you’re looking to engage so that your message and creative content can provoke the necessary action to achieve the change you’re seeking. In this podcast, Seth Godin talks about how being remarkable can attract the attention of folks who are the most likely to take up a new idea or a new approach. In turn, they influence the larger majority.

2. Target your message.

Traditionally, marketers have set up campaigns meant to reach the maximum number of people with a broad message that appeals to the widest audience. While this is a valid strategy, talking to “everyone” is often not the best approach. In fact, we regularly advise our clients to target a narrow audience with a clear, concise message that is tailored to their specific experiences.

Organizations like unions and non-profits should consider targeting their message to a smaller, more influential group of people in order to stand out in a noisy digital landscape. 

By targeting a smaller group of people with a more direct, provocative message, you can give your campaign the edge it needs to stand out in an increasingly competitive digital world.

3. Be memorable.

Every campaign needs a message and content that resonates with your audience on both an emotional and practical level. A good campaign compels people to take action. So, if you want your audience to do something, or do something differently, you need a message that is memorable enough to stick in peoples’ minds long enough to affect their decision-making. There’s interesting literature on the topic but the principles are fairly simple: connect to where people are at, and give them a roadmap of where to go from there. 

This video from the YWCA USA is a great example of a strong, compelling message designed to encourage women and BIPOC folks in the US to vote in the recent election. This video captures strong feelings, and compels viewers to act. I don’t know about you but after watching this I’m itching to head to the polls.

4. Engage your audience and empower them to act.

Digital campaigns in 2021 need to be much more than social media ads and microsites. Progressive organizations have enormous opportunities to build on traditional organizing techniques and apply them to the digital world. New tools are being launched everyday and a good agency can help you navigate which ones are worth adopting. Ultimately what we want is to empower our audience, our supporters, and our new contacts with meaningful actions they can take to help us achieve the change we’re seeking.  

I can’t tell you how many times in my life as an advocate, activist, and campaigner I’ve been asked by volunteers, members of the public, and other supportive organizations the question “what can I do?” A good digital campaign answers that question before it is even asked. 

Once you have folks taking an action, look for ways to engage them in further actions. For example, if they’ve signed a petition ask them to share the petition to their own social media. Once they’ve done that, ask if they have friends or family members that would also like to sign the petition. Once they’ve done that, ask if they’re willing to post a short video describing why the issue matters to them. Once they’ve done that ,ask them…well, you get what I’m doing here. There are infinite possibilities for ways to engage and empower supporters and even if we’re adopting new digital tools and online tactics, it all goes back to the basic principles of organizing.


The most successful campaigns go beyond the basics to maximize effect and reach people on a deeper level.

At Metric, we take a methodical approach to every campaign that includes clear goal setting, defined outcomes, a call to action, a tightly managed budget, a timeframe, and ways to measure success. We build on these foundations to help unions and progressive organizations run truly remarkable, targeted, memorable, and engaging digital campaigns. 


Leah Ward is Metric’s new Director of Campaigns. Prior to joining Metric, Leah served as Communications Director for Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley. She previously served as a senior advisor to Premier Rachel Notley as part of the issues management team for Alberta’s NDP Government. In that role, she worked on Alberta’s continent-leading Climate Leadership Plan, helped improve financial support for disabled Albertans, and helped negotiate a historic agreement with the Metis Nation of Alberta and the Metis Settlements General Council.

Pride month can be a complicated time for queer communities – particularly for trans, Two-Spirit, non-binary, Black and queer People of Colour. 

In Canada, we must continually confront our collective history of genocide commited against Indigenous people and the ongoing colonial erasure of Indigenous lives, cultures, language and experience. Recent events are a reminder that racism, transphobia, homophobia, and queerphobia exist in Canada and that racism and hate have deadly consequences. 

These reminders come in many forms including but not limited to the recent uncovering of mass graves containing the remains of Indigenous children in various locations across Canada, the ongoing genocide of Indigenous women and girls, the recent murder of a Muslim family, and the ongoing violence comitted against queer People of Colour, particularly Black, trans, and Two-Spirit folks. 

Even as restrictions ease in parts of Canada, many Pride events for 2021 have been cancelled or moved online because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many organizations, labour unions, and political parties are looking for ways to show their support for Two-Spirit, Queer and trans communities online and through digital means.

At Metric, our advice is twofold: 

  1. Work at being an ally
    • Identify local organizations, leaders, and groups that are working to undo systems of oppression in Canada and in your own community and amplify their message.
    • Hire experts who can help you make sure your organization is welcoming and safe for Two-Spirit and QTBIPoC* people. 
  2. Learn, apologize, and learn
    • Take it upon yourself to learn about the histories, cultures, battles, and victories of Two-Spirit and QTBIPoC people.
    • Hire experts to teach you if you run out of resources online or in libraries. 
    • If you make a misstep (and you might), apologize and learn from the experience. 

*Queer-Transgender spectrum Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (QTBIPoC)


The Metric team took some time to collect and share some resources available throughout Canada that contribute to the cause of advancing rights for Two-Spirit and QTBIPoC people and undoing systems of oppression that continue to harm, and in some cases kill Two-Spirit and QTBIPoC people who live in Canada.

Maureen (she/her) is Metric’s Content Manager.

Maureen wants to highlight Dr. James A Makokis, a Cree Two-Spirit physician who helps trans and Two-Spirit people in rural Alberta using traditional Indigenous teachings. Dr. Makokis provides medical services and guidance to trans and Two-Spirit people who often face persecution within their own communities as a result of the historical and ongoing colonization of Indigenous people in Canada. 

This 12 minute video features the story of Alec, a Two-Spirit teen who is learning to accept himself with the help of Dr. Makokis.

Savanna (she/her) is Metric’s Digital Manager. 

Savanna wants to share an Ologies podcast that features an interview with Riley Kucheran, Assistant Professor at Ryerson University who describes himself as an Indigenous Fashionologist. Riley talks about properly paying Indigenous artists for their work, and your responsibilities when it comes to wearing cultural pieces. He also does a deep dive on why Indigenous fashion is the most sustainable way to create clothing and how not to commit cultural appropriation.

***Note: this episode was recorded in 2020 so the brief mention of Residential Schools predates the discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of 215 children located on the traditional territory of the Secwepemc at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. It similarly does not address the subsequent discovery of additional mass graves in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. 

Leah (she/her) is Metric’s Director of Campaigns.

Leah wants to share resources available through the Queer Events website that features event listings in Southern Ontario as well as educational resources, workshops, Queer literature, films, blogs, and history. Among the many events and resources available, the site lists a series of Two-Spirit Writers Clubs hosted by spoken word artist Jennifer Alicia Murrin throughout June. 

The site also features a blog post WE’VE BEEN HERE: NOTABLE QBIPOC that articulates the ways in which Queer BIPoC folks often experience a form of double erasure. That is to say erasure from mainstream Queer communities – often dominated by homonormativity and Whiteness – and erasure from their own cultural communities. The blog highlights a number of notable, fascinating, and powerful QTBIPoC folks and showcases people whose contributions are rarely recognized.

D’Anita (she/her) is Metric’s Associate Account and Project Manager.

D’Anita read Butter Honey Pig Bread and was captivated by the author’s seamless writing style and dynamic topics weaved throughout the book relating to culture, food, queer love, identity, family, mysticism, truth and authenticity.

You can hear more about the author, Francesca Ekwuyasi, a Black queer writer and artist who was featured on Weird Era – a podcast run from a local indie bookstore in Montreal, Quebec (Librairie Saint-Henri Books).

Caitlin (she/her) is Metric’s Account and Project Manager.

Caitlin wants to share TWO SPIRITS, a powerful documentary about a person named Fred Martinez who was nádleehí. The film tells the heartbreaking story of a woman dealing with the violent loss of her child while teaching us about Navajo traditions that embraced Two-Spirit people and honoured them in a time before colonial power.  

***Note: this documentary contains graphic depictions of racism, hate and violence.

Lucy (she/her) is Metric’s Senior Account and Project Manager.

Lucy wanted to share some additional Two-Spirit resources available through Out Saskatoon. The site offers a number of resources including information on historical roles of Two Spirit people, the effect of colonization on Two Spirit people through the introduction of gender roles and heteronormative behaviour, and the resurgence of Two Spirit people in the public.


Queer Black people, Two-Spirit people, and trans and non-binary People of Colour continue to experience violence and oppression in Canada. Pride is an opportunity to continue the fight to undo systems of oppression and to ensure better health services, legal and workplace protections, and safer, more inclusive spaces for all gender and sexually diverse people who live in Canada.

As members of these communities, and as allies to these communities, we strive to practice anti-racism, anti-transphobia, anti-queerphobia and anti-homophobia. Part of that work is learning how we contribute to systemic oppression and taking it upon ourselves to learn to do better. 

At Metric, we are anti-racist but we are not experts in anti-racism. If you’re looking to learn more about anti-racism work and how to embed that into your organization, we recommend hiring an anti-racist organization that specializes in that kind of work.  We are also anti-transphobia, anti-queerphobia, and anti-homophobia but again, we are not experts in those fights and recommend you hire experts to help you with additional support on those fronts.

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, Metric would like to recognize the unsung heroes and lifeblood of progressive campaigns: volunteers. 

Whether you’re a rookie volunteer, or you’ve been delivering lawn signs for every candidate you’ve ever supported, you know that campaigns are tough. They are a relentless rollercoaster ride of highs – like: door after door of supporters, seamless sign order and delivery followed by an excellent volunteer-made dinner. They also come with crushing lows like those moments where defeat feels imminent, classic frustration of ‘hurry up and wait’, and plain old exhaustion. 

With both springtime and possible federal election season in the air, Metric’s seasoned campaigners have put together some of their top tips on surviving – nay, thriving! – during campaigns.  Whether you’re about to volunteer for a municipal, provincial or federal campaign, we hope you find this advice useful. 

Leah Ward, Campaign Director 

  • Experience: Field Organizer, Activist, Director of Communications, War Room. Campaigns are fun, energetic, fast, and very demanding. I’ve been in both the central campaign and in local campaigns and learned a lot from both experiences. 
  • Clear your slate. Don’t expect to have time or energy for anything other than the work. Elections are short so treat it like a sprint and know that however hard you push, it’ll be over soon and you’ll be proud knowing you gave it your all. 
  • Find a campaign soul-mate. Some of my dearest friends are people I’ve campaigned with. Find someone who will have your back, build you up when you’re exhausted, and remind you how great you are. 
  • Pre-cook meals and pack your freezer. No matter how lovely it can be to eat campaign food, recovering from a long stint of junk can be a bummer when it’s all over. In the months leading up to the last election I worked, I routinely made a little extra food for every meal and froze the extra so that I had a stockpile of homemade ready-to-go meals for the whole campaign. I’m not being dramatic when I say this was a lifesaver. That said, don’t be too hard on yourself. If all you can do is order fast food or gobble down that delicious volunteer-baked lasagna, do it and don’t beat yourself up.
  • Try not to drink too much. I know I know it’s hard and having end-of-day drinks with the team can seem like a lifeline but doing it too often will make your days longer and your mornings harder. Save the celebration for the victory party and maybe one other time like post-debate.

Michael Roy, Managing Director

  • Experience: GOTV Organizer, Digital Director, Director of Communications, Director of Paid Media, Digital Staffer on local, provincial, national, and international campaigns. I’ve learned at least one big lesson on every campaign I’ve worked.
  • Get everything you need before the campaign starts. From freezing pre-cooked meals to stocking up on coffee and vitamin C, you’ll have precious little time to run errands (and honestly, would you rather sleep 20 extra minutes or go to the drug store?).
  • Simplify your life. Set your bills to pay automatically, add a note to your voicemail for people to text you, and if you have a partner, thank them in advance for all they’ll be taking on for you.
  • Finally, try to  get into your campaign routine (including getting up early for meetings and getting to bed as early as you can) before the campaign starts. 

Maureen Mariampillai, Content Lead 

  • Experience: VCO, Communications, Rapid response: As a former journalist and political staffer, I’ve been able to grow and strengthen my story-telling abilities to support progressive change in two provincial elections. Now, as Metric’s content lead, I’m using those experiences to help labour unions and non-profits mobilize, grow and fundraise through digital advertising. 
  • Drink water. There are going to be some really long and chaotic days during the campaign and the best advice I received was to stay hydrated and look out for each other. (This still applies if you’re volunteering from home!) Photo: Alberta NDP provincial election, 2019
  • Share your story. Everyone has a different reason for volunteering on political campaigns and it’s those stories that help move people– whether you’re on the phone, texting or on the doors. It’s a great way to connect with other volunteers. ✊🏾
  • Make a plan or create a written agreement that all volunteers will be treated with respect. Words are nice but actions speak louder. Promoting a safe space–especially for women, LGBTQ2S+ folx, and racialized volunteers — in a campaign must be a priority. Your volunteers will feel seen. And they will know you’ve got their back. 

Savanna Pelech, Digital Lead

  • Experience: GOTV/E-Day Queen
  • Google Sheets will always be your best friend, there will never be a better E-Day slotting tool than a good spreadsheet. Colour code it, block out schedules, make it visual, use a vlookup to bring phone numbers with names between pages = *chefs kiss*
  • Never run a zone house out of your HQ if you can avoid it! It will only cause unneeded chaos and stress.
  • Budget and plan to have a really good lunch plan for your volunteers on Eday. Make sure you provide snacks and accommodate dietary restrictions.

Brenna Ward, Project Manager

  • Experience: I worked on the digital team for the 2020 Saskatchewan provincial election and the 2019 Alberta provincial election creating organic content for social channels and email writing for fundraising. I have also door knocked in a few provincial campaigns!
  • Give yourself fully to the excitement of the campaign — it’s harder during COVID-19 but leaning into the wins and the positive news helps maintain the stamina you need to get through a rigorous few weeks of hard work. 
  • Recognizing happiness triggers is as important as knowing your stress triggers. For me, I know that a quick cuddle with my cat, a fresh coffee, a bouquet of flowers on my kitchen counter, and a walk in the sun are instant mood boosters. By peppering these throughout my day of remote campaign work, I had little things to look forward to and enjoy. 
  • Have a few key messages memorized for door knocking. It’s helpful to be able to engage in a productive way with voters. Remember empathetic listening and succinct, concise messaging that frames issues in a personal way.

COVID-19 has radically shifted systems of labour. Now is the time to move the dial and make big gains in labour for the betterment of working Canadians. 

Just over a year ago, COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. People were told to stay home, leading to radical shifts in employment and conditions for working people. A virus that is transmitted through proximity to others created new risks and hazards for working people and disrupted Canada’s system of labour within late stage capitalism. 

While millions of Canadians were able to make the shift to working from home, millions of others did not have the relative luxury of staying home to stay safe. 

In the first few months of the pandemic and country-wide shutdown, health care workers, grocery store workers, food production workers, service workers, postal workers, delivery workers, and many others had to keep going to work in increasingly unsafe work environments and constantly changing public health directions. 

Never has the essential nature of this work been more clear. The pandemic has provided a moment of reckoning for governments, employers, and managers. It shone a light on the work that is essential for both our collective survival and the workers that sustain  Canada’s capitalist economy. This new light gave rise to renewed questions that drove the birth of the labour movement in Canada a century ago: Why are workers, who are deemed essential, perpetually underpaid? Why are these workers not afforded safer working conditions and benefits? Do we, collectively, accept the farce of “meritocracy” that undervalues  certain work because of who performs that labour, where they come from, and their race or place of origin? Do we accept the paradox of governments and employers that preach personal responsibility while abdicating their responsibility to ensure the safety of millions of Canadian workers?  Or, is this the moment we finally recognize the deep inequalities that exist within a system predicated on white supremacy, colonialism, and exploitation.  

Millions…did not have the relative luxury of staying home to stay safe.

The pandemic helped breathe new life into a conversation about labour and working people that builds on decades of work by the labour movement and progressive political parties. It put working people back into mainstream discourse and media. Perhaps most excitingly, social media is being used to spread messages about working conditions, inequality, and the concept of labour in late-stage capitalism in new ways. Billionaires are doubling their wealth while Amazon workers are being barred from unionizing. “Wage theft” starts popping up in friends’ Instagram stories. A 19-year old Syrian refugee who worked at a long-term care facility passed away after contracting COVID-19. I start to see “eat the rich” all over TikTok. Stories emerge of wealthy queue-jumpers paying to get vaccinated first. I start to see references to guillotines on Twitter. 

Women, and especially women of colour, have shouldered the bulk of the pandemic labour burden. From increasing the double shift of working from home and taking care of kids to being disproportionately impacted by job loss and layoffs, the pandemic has revealed our capitalist work order is indeed rooted in a white supremicist patriarchy. 

Unions have recognized this moment and have made some incredible accomplishments. They have advocated for and been successful in making progress on paid sick leave, financial compensation for front-line workers, and better working conditions for union and non-union workers alike. 


Last year, Metric developed a poster campaign to recognize essential workers

A year later, this campaign is as relevant as ever. 

There is still so much work to be done when it comes to challenging a system where the deck is stacked against workers. 

At Metric, we are committed to this fight. We work each day to move the dial. We help unions and political parties fight for progressive change. This fight has only become more crucial in this time of pandemic. 

We see workers’ struggles and we work in solidarity. 

Want a poster? Get a free digital or print copy at metric.ca/posters/


Brenna Ward is an Account and Project Manager at Metric. She previously worked as a digital marketer for Parks Canada and served as a press secretary in the Notley NDP government. In a previous life, Brenna worked as a wildland firefighter in Ontario.

To celebrate International Womon’s Day, the Metric team put together a list of some of our favourite creators, activists, and organizers who are using digital to shape their communities and breathe new life into ‘the personal is political.’

Elaine Su (she/her) 

Our Digital Specialist, Savanna, shared with us the Twitter triumph of New Westminster, B.C. resident Elaine Su. For Elaine, providing a Chinese cultural education and grounding for her son is important. For Lunar New Year, Elaine asked her neighbours to decorate their homes in celebration. The result? Her toddler was able to walk through his neighbourhood and see fu diamonds and red lanterns on most doors. Elaine’s community organizing was further amplified over Twitter and it even reached Premier John Horgan who, in response, decorated the B.C. Legislature to celebrate  Lunar New Year.  

Read Elaine’s thread here: https://twitter.com/elainesoup/status/1354322767387103232 

Anubha Momin (she/her)

Our Senior Account Manager, Lucy, wants you to follow Anubha Momin on Instagram but if you head over to TikTok, you’ll find that’s where she’s currently making her 🔥 political content. Anubha is a Desi woman living in Toronto  after working  in the arts scene in  Iqaluit, Nunavut, for many years. She uses TikTok trends to talk about issues like  equity, identity, and feminism in ways that are relatable, funny, and impactful. Her voice and perspective are helped along by her fantastic digital skills. Her content is super sharp and stands out in a saturated influencer market. Anubha’s content is quality from a production standpoint, and even more so when it comes to her message. Check her out on TikTok or, if you’re not quite ready for all that is TikTok (like Lucy), on Instagram. 

IG: https://www.instagram.com/anubhamomin/
TikTok: @anubhamomin 

Lillian Lennon (she/her)

More representation from the North! Metric’s own Northern resident and Creative Director Robin is impressed by her nearly neighbour, Alaskan queer trans activist Lillian Lennon. Lillian was only 19 years old when she took on Proposition 1, an anti-trans bathroom bill in Anchorage, as a field organizer with the campaign Fair Anchorage and helped defeat it. Later, Lillian founded Talkeetna Pride to bring Pride to her small hometown.  Lillian uses Instagram and Twitter to fight against conversion therapy, further the LGBTQ movement, and provide commentary on the state of America  politics.

Instagram: @mslillianlennon 
Twitter: @mslillianlennon 

TikTok “Banjo Baby – Nice Flaco” Remix by Tia Wood

Brenna, Metric’s Account Manager, would like to suggest checking out the “Banjo Baby – Nice Flaco” remix  by Tia Wood (@tiamiscihk) on TikTok to discover #IndigenousTikTok and some incredible creators. Tia’s video with the sound has over 18.5 million views and has been used by Indigenous creators to show off masterful transitions revealing powerful Indigenous women in jingle dresses, sealskin jackets, and fancy shawl regalia.

Marika Sila and Shina Nova, and Tia Wood use TikTok to show their Inuk and Plains Cree/Salish heritage, respectively. These women invite their followers into their lives and culture by using TikTok trends in artful and subversive ways. Their content is inherently political and brimming with Indigenous pride. Follow these women to learn and to bask in the energy and power of the Indigenous cultural renaissance.

Tia Wood: @tiamiscihk
Shina Nova: @shinanova
Marika Silva: @marikasila

Ziwe Fumudoh (she/her)

If you haven’t watched Ziwe’s epic interviews yet, you need to head over to Instagram and check out her IGTV channel. Maureen, Metric’s Content Lead, thinks that Ziwe’s use of Instagram Live may be one of the best usages of this platform she has ever seen. Ziwe, a comedian in Brooklyn, interviews semi-famous influencers and media folk and drills them on their white privilege and internalized racism. Most notable are Ziwe’s interview with cancelled New York Times food columnist Alison Roman and polarizing influencer Caroline Calloway. The interviews are uncomfortable in all the right ways, and deeply insightful. Ziwe pulls off what mere mortals wish they could. 

IG: @ziwef 

Laura Kampf (she/her)

Metric’s Managing Director, Michael, wants to highlight German maker and content creator Laura Kampf. In the male-dominated landscape of YouTube makers, Laura stands out not only for her creative concepts and seemingly endless ideas, but also for her stellar video production skills. Her dog is also quite the star. If you’re looking to switch up your social media routine and start introducing maker content, you should definitely start with a visit to Laura’s YouTube page. I am particularly interested in “DIY Copper Plating… with a tampon,” “Free Floating Nightstand (Oak and Steel),” and “Plywood Credenza with Tambour Doors.”

YouTube: Laura Kampf 

Kisha Daniels (she/her) 

Metric’s latest recruit and new Director of Campaigns, Leah tells us that Kisha Daniels’ social media accounts are where it’s at. Kisha is one of the founders of Black and Indigenous Alliance Alberta, a grassroots, Call to Action organization that works to unite and mobilize Black, Indigenous, QTBIPOC, 2Spirit, queer, and other marginalized groups. Kisha helped organize anti-racism rallies in Red Deer, Alberta and refused to back down when racist, counter-protestors showed up and violently assaulted the peaceful group. Kisha uses social media to organize local activism and community action, particularly in smaller cities and rural communities. Kisha’s Instagram is fresh and full of art, homemade jewelry, and poignant reminders about the persistence of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism on and off-line.  But, the best place to follow Kisha is on Facebook where you can find her next kick-ass event and click “going.”

Facebook: ebonysunflower.Daniels 
IG: @ebonysunflower_artistry

Shamair Turner is a candidate running to represent Ward – Karihiio on Edmonton’s city council.

In celebration of Black History Month, Metric connected with Shamair Turner to learn more about her campaign & strategy to engage voters in a pandemic.

Shamair is a first generation Canadian who was born and raised in the Ward she is running to represent. She is a business professional with experience in risk management and has deep connections to Edmonton’s rich arts and culture community. If elected in Edmonton’s October municipal election, Shamair could be the city’s first Black councilwoman.

What inspired you to run for city council?

The way that I’ve been seeing the world and my existence in it has been shifting and expanding over the last few years. 

I’ve been thinking about political influences and how it connects to everything: what our neighbourhoods look like, who has access to power and what is prioritized.

I felt like things were building in me and this was the right time and the right way [running for council] to take some action. I don’t know if it’s a female thing but I wanted to ask myself that question first. Because there may have been a different space or a different way that I could get involved. But this seemed like the right way to do it.

There aren’t enough people at the table who are capable of seeing the complexities of the world that many of us actually live in. Boldness is needed, and this is a bold move for me. I think that council is ready for some bold action — some brave action — and so I decided to jump in.

What is Edmonton city council is missing?

There is too much silence. There is  a lack of voices saying the right things and just a void, like ‘how can nobody have any questions about these huge issues?’

It was less about me needing to jump in and say ‘here’s what’s going on.’ It was ‘how come they’re not asking what’s going on?’

I’m a thinker who  requires information. If there’s an absence of seeking information, to me that  looks like a lot of reliance on the way that somebody assumes the world is. That’s a problem. If you’re just facing everything from the seat you’re sitting in, and you’re not asking more questions to learn other perspectives,  I don’t think you’re going to make good decisions or inclusive decisions. 

What are some key issues in your ward?

The campaign is being built when it comes to actual platform policy pieces, but when I think about the sorts of things people are thinking about and worried about — it’s a lot of uncertainty and that uncomfortableness with that uncertainty. That will inform the direction that I want to build my platform.

There are things I care about and I feel like everyone should be caring about  — or at least people on council should be caring about — like safety and security in its various forms.

That’s children walking to school safely, that’s people being able to use transit safely, that’s property that you’ve worked really hard to secure.

I was reading something about women wanting to run and how difficult it can be in the fall and winter because there’s not enough street lights. There’s also the racialized component of being able to just move in your space and in your city safely.* That’s a big thing that I care about and I think there’s a lot of angles when someone talks about safety. (*Editor’s note at the end)

Community members need to know what’s going on and how they can have a say in the direction of their city.

How are you planning to reach voters? 

The short answer is as many ways as possible. I’m a really social person and I’m energized by connecting with people so I want to try and replicate that connection as much as possible. 

That is going to be connecting with community leagues, sports organizations, religious groups, and the business community. There’s going to be a huge amount of online Zoom meetings and as things evolve and as it gets warmer, hopefully there’ll be opportunities to see some real faces in a safe way. 

From there it becomes what is the strategy behind how we make those things happen. I want to make sure that when I build that plan it’s not just looking at a strategy that draws in people who already exist in that space — it’s got to be able to draw people in who don’t normally engage that way. My team is ready to try and build that plan. 

I also think  that my website, which is still being built, will be  a gateway for voters to get to know me.

How does your branding reflect you & the campaign?

I have been very lucky in this city to be connected with a lot of amazing artists and and people with really great critical eyes for things like that so I’m tapping into those resources. 

I’m an ‘appreciator’ not necessarily a creator when it comes to that.  For example, my name is not a common name so my team and I definitely didn’t want any font that’s unclear or anything like that. We had conversations around colours, which was interesting. 

We were able to kind of capture a bit of brightness in that coral colour that we landed on. I remember saying specifically: “I’m not afraid of pink. I’m not gendering pink.” I’m not thinking that colour is going to be less assertive or strong or weak. It was a fun process even though it was just my name.

Part of the idea of somebody like me running and what our council has historically looked like is that we don’t have to follow every single mold. We’re coming at things from a slightly different angle and I think there’s a lot of value in that.

What’s it like to organize a campaign in a pandemic?

My campaign committee right now is grassroots and predominantly female. It’s amazing to see us all rally, get excited and engaged but it’s also a bit stressful because that gets stifled. . There’s so much energy and so much excitement just to get out and meet people but we can’t do it in the ways that we used to.  

I’ve got members who have event planning experience, who’ve run big festivals, who have run fundraising events all of which obviously were in-person. So, it’s really just about trying to be creative and trying to replicate that feeling that I get and that people get when you actually are with someone. 

I think that people are debating what the best direction is to make our city prosperous again. I think we should be thinking about it in  positive, optimistic, innovative and exciting ways to create the elements of the city that we want instead of a scared, regressive way. 

There’s language like ‘back to basics’ or ‘getting things back’ but I believe we need to be moving forward. We need ‘big picture’ and ‘forward planning’ and that’s what people want to see.What’s it going to take to win?

I want this campaign to be built from a grassroots perspective and what that means is that support in the form of donations is the only way that I can be successful to a certain extent. There are established political machines and centres of influence that I will be up against, not just as a first-time candidate but also as a Black woman. People don’t bet on us as much and I’m asking people to show that support and really get involved because that is the only way that change is going to happen. 

*Editor’s Note: Following this conversation with Shamair Turner, an anti-mask protest with connections to hate groups was held in Edmonton on Feb. 20. Watch her response here.

In a year of firsts, the 2020 holiday season was a little… different. 

Zoom holiday dinners. Bubbling with your immediate family. The dying days of the Trump administration. It’s certainly been a year of firsts.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is year-end fundraising.

Here’s a roundup of what some of the top Canadian (and international) non-profits have been up to during this critical fundraising season.

Methodology

I subscribe to a number of non-profit email lists – a mix of advocacy organizations, charities and political parties. My aim is to get a picture of what these organizations are up to – and what’s new and innovative in the email fundraising space.

I’m subscribed to these lists as a “non-donor.” Due to list segmentation or other factors, other individuals may have received different sets of emails in the same time period.

To research this article, I exported all emails received from each of 30 organizations using CloudHQ, and did some analysis of the data.

What I learned

I examined email sends from 30 organizations:

  • 25 Canadian, 3 US, 2 UK
  • 12 political parties, 18 non-political organizations
  • 463 total email sends were reviewed

December 31st was by far the most popular fundraising day, with organizations averaging 1.9 emails sent that day. At the top end, the Liberal Party of Canada sent seven emails, and the Ontario NDP sent six. On the other hand, I received no email on December 31st from eight organizations that I subscribe to (Progress Toronto, the CCPA BC Office, the Broadbent Institute, Action Canada, Open Media, LeadNow, Council of Canadians and Greenpeace UK).

December 30th, 29th, 28th and 26th were the next most popular send days, with another spike on December 26th.

Least emails sent: 1 (Canadian Taxpayers Federation)

Most emails sent: 63 (Liberal Party of Canada); 2nd most was the Ontario Liberal Party with 47

Average number of emails sent: 15.4

Largest number in a single day by one org: 7 (Liberal Party of Canada on December 31st)

2nd largest number in a day by one organization: 6 (Ontario NDP on December 31st)

Organizations using matching programs? 9

2nd most popular sending day: December 30

Political Parties

I’ve written previously about how political parties have long been trend-setters in the online fundraising space – and it seems they continue to be.

Among the organizations I monitored, political parties in Canada significantly outpace other donor-funded organizations in the volume of email they sent.

Of note

  • The Broadbent Institute campaign was focussed heavily on supporting their direct mail program, with an email and two text messages asking if I’d read Ed Broadbent’s letter. I’d much rather they just asked me for money, TBH!
  • Nine organizations used donation matching as part of their year-end campaigns. This tactic continues to deliver for organizations, and we’re now seeing more non-profits use it.

On eCRMs

This year, we took a moment to look at what mailers and eCRMs organizations are using. Most can be ascertained by looking at email headers and links.

Engaging Networks is gaining a following – particularly in Canada – and BSD Tools remains a popular option for many, despite its impending end-of-life.

Conclusions

As we head into 2021, online fundraising remains a critical and growing channel for non-profits. We still see non-profits playing catch up with the political organizations that pioneered the tactics out of necessity.

What did you think of the 2020 year-end fundraising cycle? Any successes or failures you want to share? Comment below!

I am the coworker who loves practical jokes, gimmicks and games in the office. Not pre-canned ice breakers or retreat exercises – I’m talking about the good-natured inside jokes and culture that grow over time among a group of people who spend 8ish hours together every day. Since we work remotely, I just assumed that would be lost, but I was surprised to see how many of those gaps Slack filled for us.

I ranked Metric’s best NWR (Not Work Related) Slack channels. Does your workplace have great channels? Share them on our facebook.

10. #BestofStock

What we post here: Tragic/hilarious/amazing/terrible content from stock image websites. This channel draws inspiration from the classic post, Women Laughing Alone with Salad.

Best Recent Post: This amazing stock video of a santa suit-clad person holding an animated globe with the word outsourcing on it. 

Review: The biggest drawback to this channel, and the reason it came in at #10, is that not everyone at our company searches stock images, and so not everyone can contribute regularly – but when it is used, it is thoroughly enjoyed.

9. #PleaseLikeMe

What we post here: A judgement-free zone where we share social media content that we want our colleagues to like/RT/share.

Best Recent Post: Probably this blog post, tbh.

Review: Simple, not too crowded. Nice space. Mostly work-related content, but gets on this list due to it’s cute name. 

8. #GreatDebates

What we post here: Where we have silly debates. One of our coworkers started this channel to start a debate about what is the better deal: cordless or corded drills. No one responded, because the answer is obvious – corded drills are cheaper, more powerful and don’t run out of batteries.

Best Recent Post: “The tongue emoji – why does it look like that and is it ever actually appropriate to use in a Slack context?”

Review: The term debate is used a little loosely here, but generally this is where silly arguments are made, and we really like flexing those muscles. 

7. #metric_trekkiesonly

What we post here: Listen, I get it. Not everyone is a Trekkie. I don’t like it, but I respect it. This channel is for Metric Trekkies to share Star Trek content. 

Best Recent Post: This amazing tweet:

Review: This channel is great, and allows fans to be fans in a safe space while also allowing non-fans to not be bothered by Jean-Luc Picard memes.

6. #metric_munchies

What we post here: One of the busier channels, this is where we post about food. What we’re eating for lunch, what we’re cooking for dinner, what we wish we were eating or cooking. One of our coworkers has a friday burger ritual, and this is a place where the rest of us can check in on it. 

Best Recent Post: When we discovered that one of our coworkers had never heard of Pocky. 

Review: This is the lunchroom of Metric, and deserves a great rank based on that alone. 

5. #wtf

What we post here: Shit that is bad, because 2020 is horrible. 

Best Recent Post: None. Nothing “best” ever happened here. 

Review: This channel is ranked highly because it is a place where we can “WTF” about the state of the world, but if you need to tap out and take care of you, you can simply mute this channel.

4. #Memes4Quaranteens

What we post here: This began as pandemic/quarantine related meme content but has expanded over time to include all memes. Last week I started putting TikToks in this channel – we’ll see how that is received. 

Best Recent Post: This post on Labour Day.

Review: Excellent channel title. Great place to put memes.

3. #Island_Of_Misfit_Links

What we post here: Really great content we simply must share that doesn’t fit in any of the other channels.

Best Recent Post: Jagmeet Singh’s astrology birth chart.

Review: This channel always produces quality content, likely due to it’s versatility. 

2. #plantsplantsplants

What we post here: Metric is full of plant lovers and “budding” plant lovers. We proudly post pictures of our plant babies here and when something is amiss, our resident plant expert, Lucy, diagnoses and prescribes remedies for sick plants. 

Best Recent Post: Maureen grew some flowers and we are all so excited for her!

Review: Plants are hot right now, and so is this channel. 

1. #LoudAffirmations

What we post here: IN THIS CHANNEL WE POST AFFIRMATIONS AND COMPLIMENTS IN ALL CAPS. EVERY POST MUST BE IN ALL CAPS, BECAUSE IT’S FUNNY TO IMAGINE THESE POSTS BEING YELLED.

Best Recent Post: LITERALLY ALL OF THEM <3

Review: This channel was Sav’s idea and in spite of being our newest channel, it quickly became everyone’s  favourite. This is just a really nice place where we say nice things about each other and their work. NON-STOP GOOD VIBES.

Across Canada, labour unions usually celebrate Labour Day with BBQs, parades,  and picnics. 

This year, not so much. 

If you’re looking for a socially-distanced way to recognize Labour Day, tonight pop some corn and settle in with one of these movies celebrating the labour movement, overcoming struggle, and workers’ rights. 

Norma Rae 

Watch Sally Field’s Oscar-winning performance as a textile worker who fights hard to organize her J. P. Stevens textile mill.

Where to watch: Stream on Crave (requires additional subscription to STARZ bundle); Amazon Prime (free trial of STARZ available); 

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45CX8W9peTs

Newsies 

A Disney musical based on the 1899 New York City newsboys strike.

Where to watch: Rent for $4.99 on Youtube, stream on Disney+, AppleTV

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6GQso7TAXY

10,000 Black Men Named George

True story of the formation of the first Black-controlled union, The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which represented the Black porters of the Pullman Rail Company.

Where to Watch: Stream it here.

Trailer: unavailable

Made in Dagenham

This film is a drama-comedy and follows the fight of women working at a Ford factory when they go on strike to protest sexual discriminiation and demand equal pay. The strike eventually leads to the UK Equal Pay Act of 1970.

Where to Watch: Available for rent on Amazon and AppleTV

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OD-MuEKbOAM

The Killing Floor

This 80’s film tells the story of the fight to create an interracial labor union in the Chicago Stockyards.

Where to watch: Vancouver’s Cinamateque offers a $10 rental here.

Trailer: https://www.filmmovementplus.com/packages/the-cinematheque-presents-the-killing-floor/videos/the-killing-floor-trailer

Dolores

2018 documentary about labour activist and feminist Dolores Huerta, a key influential figure in the fight for racial and labour justice. Huerta, along with Cesar Chavez, is the co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association.

Where to watch: For rent on Youtube and AppleTV

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Unzr9kiFScQ

Movies we wish we could see:

These films are on our wish list but don’t seem to be currently available to stream or rent:

Silkwood has a star-studded cast (Meryl Streep, Cher and Kurt Russel) and was nominated for several oscars – so we were stunned that we couldn’t find it available to watch anywhere. The film is about Karen Silkwood, a union activist and whistleblower who calls out unsafe conditions at a factory that produces components for nuclear reactors. Trailer

CART is about South Korean retail workers who fight the arbitrary firing of temporary workers. Trailer

Bread and Roses is a film about the struggle of LA janitorial workers and their struggle to unionize. It’s based on SEIU’s Justice for Janitor’s campaign. Trailer

For most of the last week, we watched as Democrats from all 50 states and the territories gathered online for their convention.

For the first time in the history of the Democratic National Committee, their convention took place in a virtual space – with a made for streaming event that took the place of a traditional modern US political convention.

Being politically nerdy, we were delighted to have access to every moment from our couches. Here are a few of our takeaways from the virtual Democratic Convention – DNC20 – we’re keeping in mind as Canadian unions and non-profits are transitioning to online events.

1. Live events are better when you have an audience to clap, laugh, and cry

Democrats streamed in live audience members for some keynote speeches.

Viewers and presenters, bring your audience into the (virtual) room. For Kamala Harris’s and Joe Biden’s speeches, the DNC connected audience members by Zoom – enabling them to clap at the end of the keynote. While it would have been far more impactful to do this throughout the speech – we take our cues from our peers – it was good to see real people reacting.

You can do this on your next Zoom meeting – try hosting a meeting (which you can do with up to 1,000 people) rather than a webinar.

2. Pre-produce video segments

The DNC20 control room

DNC20 took advantage of numerous pre-produced video segments from presenters and validators speaking from their own homes. Some were professionally filmed, some were recorded on smartphones and laptops. But critically, all of them were real,  in the moment, and brought participants from far away into the event whether it was live or ‘canned’.

3. Not just another Zoom meeting

Eva Longoria, one of the DNC20 hosts.

Nothing is worse than an event that stagnates. DNC20 used a new host each night – with the feel of a TV news or talk show host – that helped to bridge segments and keep the event moving. Notably, these weren’t meeting chairs – they were hosts that introduced, extroed, and added colour between segments.

Consider adding a host – in addition, to a chair – to your next Zoom meeting.

4. How nostalgic: they used a real stage for the big speeches

Sanitizing the podium at DNC20.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden delivered their acceptance speeches from a stage in a hall. While we didn’t love the shots of the empty room in front of them, the grandness of the space, the podium, and the stage helped to accentuate the scale of the event and the moment. It brought back some of the feel of a traditional political convention.

In a time where we spend most of our days at our laptops on Zoom calls, consider using a venue – even an empty one – for your next virtual convention or conference. A podium on a stage, complete with lights, can help to recreate some of the energy of a speech in a packed auditorium.

5. Use real people to deliver a real message

DNC20 made extensive use of validators through video messages throughout the program. These validator videos were a great way of bringing real Americans into the convention to deliver the campaign message in a real way.

Consider adding validators – live or pre-taped – to your next event. A medical patient, a member, a student, or a citizen can add a real-life voice to the event. At DNC20, the team produced validator segments that felt real – like a young girl telling the story of her mother’s deportation with images and in her own voice, or Steph Curry and his wife adorably interviewing their own children rather than just endorsing Joe Biden.

Bonus: you can probably get permission to share these segments on your social channels after the fact. 


As we all work to rethink how we hold meetings and events, it’s important to think of how we can recreate some of the energy of a live event for our virtual audiences. That’s the whole point, right? Make people feel like they’re part of something great and inspire your members. Look at what other organizations are doing to adapt, and how you can adopt some of those tactics.

Last week, when Twitter announced that employees would be working from home permanently, columnists announced it could “end the office as we know it.” Yesterday, Facebook and Ottawa-based Shopify announced they’d be following suit. 

It’s not surprising that that tech giants would be the first to move into “virtual workspaces”, and we should fully expect other sectors to follow. After all, on the employer side, there are big potential benefits in shifting to an at-home workforce, including reduced overhead costs and, perhaps counterintuitively, a more productive workforce.

Workers know there are benefits for them as well: Greater flexibility could be a game changer for women in the workforce, and the thought of more work-life balance and less time commuting is appealing for many workers.

It’s not all rosey though: Working from home is very challenging in cities with tight housing markets, where home offices are a luxury. Perhaps collective agreements of the future will have employers paying for that extra bedroom/home office. There are risks that employers won’t deal with workplace safety (or equipment) issues. While good managers may thrive, bad managers could certainly get worse in this environment. Many people get a great deal of social interaction and personal fulfillment from their work life, and it’s difficult to maintain that culture when everyone is working remotely. There are undoubtedly implications for sectors that support workplaces: custodians, security guards, and restaurants – not to mention the commercial real estate market. 

Perhaps collective agreements of the future will have employers paying for that extra bedroom/home office.

Most importantly, siloing workers in their homes makes them significantly less powerful when it comes to organizing themselves, and presents significant challenges for the unions that serve these workers.

Canadian unions need to be ready for this shift in how people work: What’s the best way to organize new workplaces (and mobilize current members) in this environment? Do you have the tools necessary to engage your members online? How do you plan to  facilitate activities that were previously done in person?

For unions facing a workforce that may increasingly be working from home permanently, embracing digital tools is critical for survival. 

1. Build your lists

A union is only as strong as its ability to mobilize its members, and the ability to mobilize comes down to having a great, up-to-date membership list.

Yet, for many unions, maintaining a membership list that includes cell phones and email addresses is a major challenge.

The current crisis is an opportunity to build update your membership list through multi-channel engagement.

2. Multi-channel member engagement

If the first three rules of communication are repeat, repeat, repeat, then multi-channel engagement is the way to achieve that.

Communicators and organizers understand that it takes many conversations or points of contact to successfully engage or persuade someone. People get information from all kinds of sources – meaning unions can’t count on just one channel of communication to engage members. Integrating email and texting may be somewhat straightforward – but what happens when we want to add direct mail, telephone, Facebook Messenger, and social media ads to the mix?

That’s the reality facing unions across Canada. 

Achieving integrated multi-channel engagement takes the right mix of tools and training – but it’s critical to success. One notice on the bulletin board at a worksite is no longer enough to mobilize members – we need to reach them on all the channels they’re tuned into.

3. (Online) Ads matter too

With micro-targeted online advertising being the norm in marketing (think about those ads for those shoes you looked at that follow you from website to website), online ads have become a prime communication channel to engage members. Yet many unions still aren’t using this toolset to its full potential.

Tools like Facebook’s custom audiences let you use your union membership list to target members with ads promoting an upcoming meeting (or webinar), a campaign action, or an important video update – all for a modest budget compare to traditional offline media.

Online ads are also a way of engaging organizing prospects in the work of the union – potentially asking them to join a campaign to fight for a better workplace as a first step in an organizing drive.

And lastly, you can use online ads to encourage members to sign up for email or text message updates, by targeting your members worksites with ads to drive traffic to signup forms on your website.

Custom Audiences are only available through Facebook’s powerful Ads Manager – not the boost button.

4. Surveys

While not a new tool, online surveys delivered through text or email are a great way to make sure your members are heard, and engaged in the decision making of your union.

On the email side, tools like SurveyMonkey and Typeform make it quick, easy, and affordable to build interactive surveys with powerful reporting tools.

With text messaging (SMS), powerful tools like Mobile Commons (aka Upland Mobile Messaging) let you create interactive surveys to quickly gather member feedback on important issues.

The pandemic has already nudged many unions to shift their work online. This has been a challenge, but countless folks have been able to level up their skills in a matter of weeks. Change is possible – and the future will likely see some combination of online and offline organizing. But some workplaces may end up shifting permanently, and labour needs to be ready to work on behalf of those members.

Metric works with unions across Canada to help engage and organize their members through digital. Let’s set up a conversation to talk about your next member engagement campaign.

Photo by Nelly Antoniadou on Unsplash

Advertising agencies around the world have been in high gear helping companies shift their ads to strike the right tone in this “challenging time” (insert whatever euphemism you like). Car commercials are saying that they understand economic realities and offering payment holidays. Travel ads are telling us that the beautiful destinations of the world will still be there when all this is over. Scrabble put out an ad telling us now is the time for their product to shine.

A Walmart flyer hit my mailbox last week. There was a section that showed a Walmart employee, and text that told me that Walmart Canada would be increasing their employees’ wages by $2/hour in recognition of the hard work and sacrifice that their employees are making. This comes on the heels of the United Food and Commercial Workers winning a $2/hour wage increase for their employees working on the front lines in grocery stores. After the unionized grocery stores increased wages, the non-unionized grocery stores followed, among them apparently, Walmart. This is a big win for UFCW, their members, and non-union workers in the industry.

We shouldn’t pretend Walmart did this out of the kindness of their corporate heart – it’s likely that they needed to remain wage competitive with unionized stores, and that employee retention is particularly difficult right now with people being concerned about exposing themselves to COVID19.

What struck me about this flyer is that they wanted us to know they were doing this. Walmart has read from the public – accurately I think – that their workers are recognized and appreciated in a way that they perhaps weren’t in the past. They’re telling us that it’s okay to shop there because they, too, thank and appreciate their employees. The cynic in me wonders if these messages of thanks – be they ads, anonymous memes, or media commentary – are just serving to make people feel better about how reliant we are on low-paid workers putting themselves and their families at risk every day.

Don’t get me wrong – sentiments of appreciation are nice. But saying thank you to these workers is really the very, VERY least we could do.

The reality is that people working in low wage jobs are being forced to continue working in these jobs – you’re not eligible for employment insurance benefits if you quit your job or if you’re a gig worker. Even with the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit now – it’s time-limited. Who’s to say that your job will be there for you in 6 months? What will the state of the economy be? When you work paycheque to paycheque, keeping the job you have will often be the safest choice.

When you work paycheque to paycheque, keeping the job you have will often be the safest choice.

Economic uncertainty is keeping people working in high exposure jobs while many workers who are more economically secure get to stay home safe and order delivery from Uber Eats. “Thank you to our heroes” doesn’t really seem like enough when you hear it like that. Workers deserve a hell of a lot more than thanks.

We all owe it to these workers to support higher wages, including minimum wage increases. We owe it to them to support better working conditions, fairer labour laws, access to benefits and respect. We owe it to them always – not just now.

At Metric, we decided to take that message and worked together with designer Scott Knowles and Vancouver-based illustrator Heather Haughn to create a series of posters that communicate this.

We wanted to show workers proudly doing their jobs in the face of the pandemic, but also make the point that we owe it to these workers to have their backs.

We started with a list of workers we thought should be recognized – grocery clerks, food delivery drivers, custodians, long haul truckers, farmworkers, factory workers – the list kept getting longer as we thought of all the people we relied upon on. We decided to start with 3 posters – and then give people the opportunity to suggest other workers to highlight.

A lot of people have used war analogies and language to describe the COVID fight, a coming together of people behind a common enemy. Visually, we drew inspiration from government poster styles from war efforts in the middle part of the 20th century. Our goal was a bit of a retro work of art that combined honouring a worker with a call to action, like many of the posters from that era did.

In addition to asking people to suggest other kinds of workers to highlight, we also plan to print a limited number of these posters to give away in exchange for a donation to local food banks. Stay tuned for more information on that.

This project is something we wanted to put out into the world to honour these workers, and remind our leaders that workers deserve more than our thanks – they also deserve our support. As the world comes out of the pandemic, these fights will continue to exist. Our hope is that one of the silver linings of this terrible pandemic is that people and governments will see front-line, low wage workers in a new light and that there will be an opportunity to create lasting change for these workers.

Robin Steudel is Creative Director at Metric.

Do you work from home? With the COVID-19 pandemic, students and workers in various sectors are being sent to work from home – a big challenge for a lot of people.

When people learn that I work remotely, one of the most common responses is “Oh I could never do that.” People who are otherwise brilliant powerhouses tell me that they could never accomplish work without the structure and pressure an office provides.

I know this feeling.  “Never, never, never,” I would tell people. I even began to wonder if anyone at all could be productive working from home or if it was just a myth. That is until I decided that it’s what I wanted.

After my last job in a hectic, high stakes environment I took 6 months off to travel, camp, hike and pursue photography. I began to take on small contracts to pay bills, and worked from amazing places, like ferries and small-town libraries. It was awesome.

I decided that’s what I wanted – so, when starting Metric with my business partner Michael, I set about learning how to make it work. Here are my best hacks and favourite tools.

4 Tips

1. Set artificial deadlines

If you’re like me, you often start a project with the best of intentions and then you find timelines creeping slowly forward. Some people can set a deadline for themselves and stick to it – and good for them. For everyone else: schedule regular, multiple phone check-ins with your client/teammate/boss where you’ll update them on your progress. Book these as often as you need to stay on track.

2. Wake up and look good

Most of us look at our phones before we even get out of bed. When you work from home (especially if you don’t have kids), it can happen pretty quickly that you transition from this straight into your workday, and before you know it, it’s noon and you haven’t showered. Work hard to maintain a routine, and try to front-load your day to force you to get up. Consider starting your day with a video conference or keeping your laptop and phone in another room so you have to get up and get ready.

3. Care about your space

Don’t set up your laptop on the kitchen table and move it whenever someone needs the space. Try to set up a clean corner that’s yours and make it a place you want to be. Add a plant. Access to natural light will give you a daily rhythm to follow and make you a happier person. Find music that helps you focus: I like to go to YouTube and type “music that is good for studying” and pick a new one each day.

4. Schedule an end to your day – even if you’re not done all your work

One of the traps they don’t tell you about when you work from home is that it’s really easy to push tasks off to the end of the day, and then before you know it, you’re finishing everything at 9 or 10 pm. Instead of working a productive 6-8 hours, you’ll be half-assing a 12-14 hour workday. This isn’t sustainable and will make you feel terrible. Set work hours for yourself, and book activities (even if it’s just a catch-up call with a friend or a TV show) so you stop working at night.

4 Tools

There are tools that can make the transition easier – including for teams. If your workplace is looking for advice on how to reduce travel or accommodate remote work, give us a call. We’d love to do an assessment or training.

1. Video conferencing

While phone calls are great, video meetings are critical to maintaining strong relationships with your teammates and coworkers. While not a 100% replacement for an in-person meeting, video conferencing forces participants to be more “in-the-moment” and participate, rather than having the conference call playing in the background.

We love Zoom because it’s SO easy. Sharing screens, booking meetings between multiple people, and you can easily invite people from outside your organization to join your meeting with a minimally invasive and easy installation. Bonus: Zoom is free for meetings up to 40 minutes.

2. Slack

Slack is quickly becoming a standard office tool. If you’ve never used it, Slack is an instant messaging platform that works really well for remote workers. Try setting up channels for each project you’re working on to stay organized – that way, you can check in on progress on specific projects when you’re ready to review them instead of searching back through endless messages.

Don’t forget about the #random channel for some virtual water-cooler time. I like to send gifs. We use the free version of the Giphy plugin, so to send a gif type “/giphy” and then a search term. It will let you choose from various animated gifs.

3. Google Keep

My personal favourite tool. I love to take notes, and I love how clean and easy Google Keep is. I can open and edit notes on my laptop by expanding the Keep button in Gmail (on the right side) and it’s the only note app I use on my phone. (I have an android, but it works on apple too). It updates seamlessly between multiple devices and you can still have access to your notes and make changes while you’re offline (like on an airplane).

4. Hardware

There are endless options for things you can buy to create a portable workspace. I’m really interested in something that won’t kill my back. After some amount of trial and error, here’s what I like:

  • A Laptop Stand. I like this one because it folds up small and is height adjustable
  • Keyboard. I use Apple’s Magic Keyboard
  • Mouse. I use Apple’s Magic Mouse
  • External Monitor. I’m using a very basic monitor that was on sale for under $100 a few years ago. It was whatever was on sale a few years ago. I’ve even travelled with it to election campaigns by padding it carefully between my clothes in a large suitcase. So far, so good!