Traditionally, in public relations, one of the first things you think about when crafting a pitch, release or post is, “how is this different, unique, special,” etc. The idea is to come up with a hook, something that will catch the eye of the intended recipient. Something different than what “everyone else is doing.”
In the world of credit unions, our “something different” is something that others might consider odd, counterintuitive, or at least challenging to message. That something is collaboration.
When I first started working in public affairs for credit unions, I attended what we call a Marketing Council, an open discussion for the discipline among our membership. The idea that a group of professionals from different organizations would get together and swap stories was completely foreign to me. Coming from other industries that were for-profit, there was no way anyone would sit in a room with people who could be considered their competitors and share their trade secrets! Sharing ideas, giving marketing and public relations advice, and even (gasp!) working together on campaigns would cause any one of us to run the other direction.
Of course, one doesn’t have to be part of this movement for long to realize that our collaboration is just one of the areas that makes us unique. That uniqueness has played out in a big, public way in two specific campaigns, and it’s proving to be a wise decision.
First is the Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union ® awareness campaign that is currently active in 26 states across the nation with 1,132 participating organizations. With the goal of increasing consideration of credit unions by consumers, the public-facing campaign has seen an 8% increase nationwide since 2019. The campaign, while customizable for participating organizations, has a common look and feel that showcases our collaboration and unique value to consumers.
Second is the recent #ILoveMyCreditUnion social media campaign. Developed as an organic, easy-to-implement viral message, the coordinated social media effort reached more than 22 million people across multiple channels in one day! The initiative, coordinated by our friends at the Illinois Credit Union System (ICUS), was a simple but effective way for those of us in the credit union movement to create a digital “wave” inspiring people to share their credit union stories. More than 700 organizations across 48 states and nine countries participated, including credit unions, leagues, associations, and industry partners.
Thousands of credit union industry employees, volunteers, families, and friends posted on their favorite social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram) sharing messages, pictures, or videos to show why #ilovemycreditunion. This grassroots effort proved highly successful and was easy to participate in. And it’s something that just wouldn’t work for other types of organizations because the sincerity of the message simply would not be there.
Credit unions are different. And special. And how we promote them and tell our story should be also. Our uniqueness is our ability to work collaboratively for the greater good of many while serving the individual member one at a time. In our promotions, and media relations efforts, we should embrace and celebrate it.