5 Ways to Garner Greater Visibility in 2014

Use them as foundation for your strategic public relations plan

by Kathryn Farmer

CUES’ Credit Union Management’s online-only “PR Insight” column runs the first Thursday of every month.

Developing and maintaining member loyalty is typically a primary focus of a credit union’s strategic plan. Moving into 2014, it is important for credit unions not to overlook the value of public relations to build stronger relationships with key constituents. If your credit union does not already have a public relations strategy in place, these five simple tips can help ensure key messages reach target audiences and effectively tell your credit union’s story, what sets it apart and why it should be your members’ primary financial institution.

1. Leveraging Social Media to ‘Push’ News

It’s important for your credit union to increase efforts to attract Millennials. They are becoming a valuable member segment with more turning to credit unions for auto and home loans. Millennials have seen their parents conduct business with credit unions and are now looking beyond the large mega bank.

This generation expects social media interactions, since it is what they view as a primary source of communication. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, the most popular communication tools, are great ways to engage not only with your members, but also journalists, analysts and other interesting experts, providing options to post or re-tweet interesting articles or insight from key industry leaders. Additionally, a LinkedIn business page is an effective way to connect with members or prospective employees, and to post company news and share updates. Social media enables your credit union to build a thought leadership presence, as well as promote news stories that feature your credit union.

2. Comment on Online Articles

Also serving as a gateway for your credit union to build strong relationships with journalists are the comment boards displayed under most online articles. These have become a very popular measurement for authors to gain feedback on their article(s), and joining a conversation and positioning your credit union executives as industry experts can further strengthen your brand.

Media interaction can also open a door for your credit union to become a source for journalists next time they are searching for experienced and knowledgeable content providers. Furthermore, commenting on a contributed article is a good way to further the news life of the article, and gives your credit union a chance to have a voice in a discussion that you may not have been a part of originally.

3. Conduct Member Surveys

Beyond providing valuable feedback for you, conducting a member survey is an excellent way to generate news of interest to members, as well as journalists, who all love interesting statistics.

Journalists may be interested to hear how a certain percentage of your member base prefers to conduct business via mobile, for example. Taken a step further, segmenting your data might provide a powerful story about how a growing number of baby boomers are gravitating to online and mobile channels.

4. Establish an Online Newsroom on Your Website

Your members want to know what is being said in the news about your credit union. Dedicating a portion of your website specifically to organizational news can help members feel more engaged. It also gives you the opportunity to share a more personal side to your credit union.

Bring this section of your website to life by including such collateral as news releases, links to recent media coverage, social media pages, case studies, fact sheets, frequently asked questions and other various press kit materials. This is also an opportune place to showcase any recent promotions your credit union may be offering, such as college accounts and student loans, military exclusives, mortgage specials and competitive auto loan rates.

5. Create a Credit Union Industry Blog

Blogging has become a very popular method of communication and news dissemination. There is no real set format so you can create a blog completely dedicated to your credit union or one that addresses industry issues. It is a resourceful way to position your credit union executives as thought leaders, as it can serve as a place to share their insight on various topics.

Leveraging various communication platforms from your strategic public relations plan will enable your credit union to consistently engage with target audiences, share success stories and create a solid relationship-building environment. Implementing these tips will play a critical role in developing and maintaining positive working relationships with your members, as well as key influencers covering your credit union’s news.

Kathryn Farmer is an account coordinator at William Mills Agency, the nation’s largest independent public relations firm focusing exclusively on the financial services and technology industries.

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