By WEAC Editor Bill Hurley
As hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied at the State Capitol last winter, another equally - or even larger - group of people organized online through social media resources that included Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. WEAC's social media sites quickly became key sources of information and support for teachers, education support professionals, state employees and others affected and interested in the developments, and activity on these sites exploded.
Just as an example, the number of "interactions" on the WEAC Facebook page - measured by the number of times users clicked a "like" button or added a comment - skyrocketed. In January, prior to the governor's assault on educators and public employees, the WEAC Facebook page had a fairly typical 62 interactions. In February, it had 26,000 interactions, and in March it had 34,000.
As you can imagine, the WEAC Communications staff - like staff throughout the organization - were working double time. For Communications staff, one of the priorities was to make sure these social media sites were being used as effectively as possible to inform, organize, engage and support members. That work, of course, is continuing today.
Last weekend, the WEAC Communications staff were recognized for the role they played in the success of social media. The State Education Editors - made up of editors, designers and other communications staff from NEA state affiliates throughout the nation - presented WEAC a First Place award in the category of Best Targeted Social Media Campaign. The award was presented at the SEE annual conference in Chicago, which took place ahead of the NEA Representative Assembly. The WEAC Communications staff received a standing ovation from their colleagues.
But that's not all. The WEAC Communications Team also won:
- First Place, Best Website for weac.org.
- First Place, Best Electronic Newsletter for WEAC Direct.
- First Place, Best Design of Marketing Materials for a WEA Academy folder.
- Award of Distinction, Best Design of Marketing Materials for protest signs. (Yes, those are signs that you saw flooding the streets around the Capitol and throughout the state during protests and still see in house windows in every community.)
The WEAC staff honored at the SEE Conference were Marlena Deutsch, Matthew Call, Christina Brey, Laura DeVries and Bill Hurley.
We very much appreciate these awards and the strong support of our colleagues from throughout the country. But at the same time we recognize that it is you, the WEAC members, who deserve the support and the recognition for everything you have done in solidarity - through your participation in social media, and Madison rallies, community rallies, pickets, vigils, town hall meetings and member organizing - to fight for worker rights and the future of public education. As this fight continues, we hope you continue to find the WEAC Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages, accounts and channels useful. Together, we have built a strong online community, and we will do everything we can to make it even more effective and supportive for you.