Word-of-mouth will make all the difference in spreading our name familiarity

By Kelly Hagen, NDU Director of Communications

No. We’re not a soccer team.

Kelly Hagen
Kelly Hagen, NDU Communications Director

North Dakota United is the state’s foremost advocate and champion of public education and public services. We’re 11,500 working professionals in the public sector. We are city, county and state employees, higher education faculty and staff, teachers and education support professionals. We are all North Dakota United.

Not everybody knows that, though. We’ve done polls of our members and polls of the public for the last several years, and the good news is that almost all of you know who North Dakota United is. You are North Dakota United.

When the public is asked how familiar they are with North Dakota United, a lot of them think we’re a soccer team.

It’s fairly easy to understand why. United is a popular team name for soccer teams. In fact, there is a professional-level soccer team in the state directly east of us called Minnesota United. And there is a youth soccer team in Bismarck that’s named Dakota United Soccer Club.

I do like that soccer teams are often called clubs, by the way. Clubs are cool. Everyone wants to be part of a club – hanging out in a clubhouse, doing club things.

But we’re not a soccer team. We’re a union, and a champion for educators and public employees.

I only mention this because this issue of United Voices is the first of the 2017-18 school year, and we are in the thick of membership recruitment. Now is the time to ask your colleagues, new and old, to join our club … nay, union.

That pitch will be made easier as more and more people in our state become familiar with our name and brand. In fact, everything we do becomes easier as we’re more recognizable.

Government affairs and political activism? Yes. Collective bargaining and advocacy? Indeed. Public affairs? You betcha. Professional development? That, too! Community activism? For sure.

We do a lot of stuff, but soccer isn’t one of those things.

So here’s the “ask” of this Communications Corner: Tell a person or two about North Dakota United. It’s not that easy, I know. We all easily overlook this aspect of membership.

We’re all a part of NDU; we’re right in the heart of this association. Because we’re immersed in the organization, we don’t always see what it looks like from the outside, looking in.

But that’s the good news! As we introduce North Dakota United to the world around us, we can start off by making a good impression. It’s like when you first meet someone really cool. A person who listens really well, smiles a lot, is incredibly positive about everything, feels very authentic, and is both confident but humble. A real David Beckham type – everybody loves that guy, right? Let’s bend it like Beckham!

Except for the part where he’s a really good soccer player. We probably shouldn’t tell people how good we all are at playing soccer.

Just be good representatives of our union, within your sphere of influence. Talk about your membership in North Dakota United to your friends, your family, your neighbors.

Maybe even strangers at the supermarket. There’s 11,500 of us, so if every one of us tells 10 people about NDU in the 24 hours after you first read this column, that’s 115,000 who hear about us overnight. That’s pretty good, right?

And say nice things. That’s all I’m saying.