Public relations (PR), when executed effectively as part of a credit union’s marketing program, creates an unmatched competitive advantage.
But some credit unions struggle to take full advantage of their position in local markets. They struggle to tell their stories in the media, demonstrate their value for members, and set themselves apart from competition.
To be effective, understand some PR best practices, current trends—and mistakes to avoid.
Building relationships with financial services industry and personal finance writers and reporters at local media outlets is critical.
Credit union executives who provide valuable and timely information to reporters become trusted sources. Relationships are built by demonstrating an understanding of trends and the industry, not by being self-promotional.
Media coverage is an asset that credit unions can repurpose to attract attention and secure greater market share. Regularly share valuable TV news coverage on social media and video sites, and place it front and center on other digital properties.
Remember, media coverage is many times more valuable than advertising. Nothing is better than media coverage for building credibility and making an impression with current and prospective members, and important referral sources such as accountants.
PR is evolving. Mobile technology, the Internet, video, social media, and blogs continue to reshape marketing methods and how credit unions generate leads and acquire new members.
Credit union leaders need to embrace these technologies, leveraging them to support and amplify reputation-building efforts.
To inform current and potential members and heighten brand awareness, credit union leaders should:
• Share expertise regularly by blogging;
• Post long form narrative content on social media; and
• Expand the use of video.
The local, friendly, and soft-selling approach of credit unions differs significantly from banks. Leverage that value proposition using all digital assets.
Embrace every opportunity for news interviews about providing banking and savings strategies, tips, or comments.
A small mention, quote, or helpful statistic can become the catalyst for a media relationship and feature article.
Expert content, especially when presented on video, demonstrates to the media that the credit union’s experts can communicate effectively on camera. This can secure TV news coverage in the future.
Credit union CEOs should regularly produce videos about their credit union, services, industry trends, value, and their leadership role. Embracing video gives the credit union a competitive advantage and creates a personal connection with audiences.
Embrace podcasts (audio and visual) and live streaming video. Members, the media, and the public at large want this type of content today.
Periscope (owned by Twitter), Facebook, Meerkat, and others make live streaming video easy to access and produce. Use this technology to offer updates, informational classes, and Q&A sessions, and to introduce the people who make the credit union special.
Common PR mistakes
The trust, reputation, and awareness that PR engenders is unmatched. But credit unions need to apply PR effectively.
Common mistakes include:
• Expecting immediate results or for PR to directly drive sales or other marketing goals. To earn value, invest in PR and media relations activities regularly and over time. With each month invested in PR, the credit union increases its share of the audience and builds its brand.
• Relying exclusively on their PR people to generate stories and pitch ideas. Only with regular collaborative brainstorming between the PR firm or staff and the credit union leaders will the best and most effective media pitches develop.
Don’t expect PR to create ideas in a bubble. Share observations, successes, and trends.
PR professionals are experts at listening, examining stories, and identifying what makes them newsworthy. Collaborating regularly and sharing ideas is the best and really the only recipe for PR success.