The story of your credit union is always about your members, your community, and your team. We all know that credit unions exist to help their members. The combination of financial education, long-term planning, reasonable lending to help members achieve goals, and reinvesting in communities through volunteerism, assistance and education are invaluable for success on many levels.
That combination is also a natural source of a compelling media story. As we continue to emerge from the unprecedented season we’ve all experienced for more than a year, there is likely a treasure trove of rich stories that you can use for a long-term public relations strategy that can help enlighten your community and potentially bring in new members.
Local news is still the best source for a local credit union to get their story out to the right audience. And while we have seen a tremendous shift in the media – layoffs, mergers, conglomerate ownership – there is still the need to tell the local story. The shift has created an even greater need for good content packaged in a manner that makes it easy to use.
If at all possible, develop some kind of relationship with the news outlets covering your credit union’s service area. Knowledge of producers, assignment editors, beat reporters and the general direction of each outlet’s priorities will help you determine the best outlets to work with to share your credit union’s stories. For example, if your local station has an extended morning show, or a weekend edition, those are prime spots to provide content, such as volunteering in the community or financial education. If there is a business reporter, stories related to business lending or PPP loans will be of interest.
Developing relationships is never easy, and it is best to put some effort into it before you are trying to pitch a story. One of the benefits of the shift in our workplace landscape of the past year has been the willingness to meet virtually. Meeting with a new business reporter for “virtual coffee” is a great idea to have an introduction conversation. Understanding their focus, needs and deadlines will help you be a better source for them. The reality is, the easier you can make their job by providing information, visuals, etc., the better your chances are of getting your pitch picked up.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations and service at our credit unions, it’s vitally important to understand that our mission to serve makes for a terrific local story that can have positive impacts to the bottom line. If we tell the stories that set us apart, like so much of what credit unions did during the past year, we will align with other people who need the same kinds of resources we have provided our members. Awareness of our credit unions and what we can do for current and potential members is a powerful tool. Our communications teams can play a strategic and important role in creating that awareness and, in turn, driving potential memberships.