Balance Key to Successful PR Campaigns

Does your public relations strategy include these three important components?

By: Charlyne H. McWilliams

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

In every aspect of life, balance is key to success. Balanced tires on a car mean a smoother ride. A balanced diet usually results in the healthy function of your body. A well-balanced public relations campaign helps position your credit union as a media resource.

Well-balanced PR efforts require three components: press releases, executive media placements and case studies. Together, these tools build exposure and enhance a company’s credibility because of perceived media objectivity. In fact, recent studies in North America suggest positive media coverage generates up to nine times more visibility than paid advertising.

Let’s take a closer look at those three components of a successful plan.

Press Releases

These are written to announce something newsworthy. It could be a new product, product enhancement, strategic alliances, new hires, new clients, company growth and company achievements, just to name a few. Typically, they are distributed to reporters and editors at newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations. Press releases are the foundation of all media relations programs since they show positive growth and momentum for organizations.

In addition, press releases also feed the sales and marketing machine and should be repurposed for sales and marketing collateral. Press releases keep your credit union’s name in front of key media as well as your members. Regular and effective press releases help build relationships with key industry media, establishing your credit union as a “news media source” for your industry.

Executive Media Placements

There’s a reason we see the same names and faces in the press. Some organizations understand the importance of positioning their executives as industry thought leaders. Establishing your executives as industry thought leaders is a huge step in the right direction toward increased credibility. It also helps establish a personal face for your credit union, which is important regardless of your size. It can also help you stand out from competitors.

Regardless of the industry, people want to know the people behind an organization and trust the very best and brightest in their respective fields. There are several ways to gain credibility as an industry thought leader. Expert articles, whitepapers, opinion pieces, research papers, trend articles and source quotes show you understand and care about the problems your industry is trying to solve. These pieces should contain useful information, demonstrate your expertise and show your commitment to solving your industry’s problems.

Case Studies

The third leg of a balanced media relations program is vendor case studies. Case studies can validate the way your credit union addresses an issue and the business partners it uses to solve those issues. Validation requires thorough and solid facts, numbers, studies, endorsements, commentary, quotes and partner involvement.

While case studies are one of your most powerful means of communication, they are often the most difficult to complete since they require vendor participation. Publications love case studies and use them to showcase how your members benefit from your credit union’s approach to an issue or how specifically you are helping improve the experience consumers have in the financial industry.

These key components to a successful and balanced public relations program give members pride in being a part of your credit union and validate why they should continue to do business with you.

Charlyne H. McWilliams is an account supervisor at the William Mills Agency, the nation’s largest independent public relations firm focusing exclusively on the financial services and technology industries. She can be reached at charlyne@williammills.com.