By J. Blair Logan
Credit Union Management’s online-only “PR Insight” column runs the first Thursday of every month.
Over the course of this article series, we have devoted a great deal of time and attention to discussing exactly how credit unions can more effectively promote and distribute their expertise or content to existing and prospective members.
The reality is that today -- whether through traditional media relations, direct marketing and social media – there is no shortage of communications channels available to credit unions as they interact with their membership. In fact, there has never been a time when credit unions had so many resources at their disposal to communicate directly with their members and key audiences.
For many credit unions, the questions have now evolved from “How can I get my members to follow my credit union on Facebook?” to “My credit union now has thousands of members following us on Facebook. How can I make the most of this opportunity to grow those member relationships?” Or, “We have established a relationship with our local business editor, how can I continue to provide value to her?”
Whether through social media or more traditional means, what this proliferation of communications channels underscores more than anything else is the underlying quality of the content that you are producing. But what exactly characterizes “high quality” content?
Here are some considerations in evaluating the quality of the content you are producing:
Does your content provide value to the recipient?
Often, we have the tendency to promote things that are valuable to us when what we should be focusing on is the value to the recipient of the content. For example, let us suppose that your credit union has recently renovated a branch location. Rather than focusing on what the renovations mean for you and your staff (newer, nicer surroundings and new equipment, perhaps) focus instead on specifically how the renovation will benefit your members when they visit (improved convenience through more parking spaces, added teller line, etc.).
From a media standpoint, if you are interested in promoting your credit union’s auto loan refinance program, for example, rather than pitching the story of the availability of the program, focus on something that provides value to her publication and its readers. A story on how local citizens are taking simple steps like refinancing an existing auto loan to free up additional cash to fund college tuition, etc. is much more compelling content, both for the publication and its readership.
Always create your content with the benefit to the end user in mind. If a member or media knows that content you produce consistently meets this mark, they will tend to listen whenever you have something to say.
Does your content elicit a response?
This sounds elementary, but when you are communicating anything on behalf of your credit union, you should know with certainty what the purpose of (and preferred response to) that communication is.
There is a big difference between “We can refinance your auto loan!” and “Last month we saved our members more than $5,000 by lowering the interest rates on their existing auto loans. We would welcome the opportunity to do the same for you – contact us today!” or “Got a child in college and need additional cash for their living expenses? We can refinance your auto loan and free up thousands of dollars per year – call us today and let us help you!”
In media relations, we often talk about “pain points” when developing effective content and messaging. When working with clients, we try to identify the issue their product solves or the unmet need that it fulfills and go from there. In doing so, the content that we generate is more likely to elicit a productive response from the audience that we are trying to reach.
Can your content be easily shared?
Ideally, if you produce meaningful content, the recipients of that content will feel compelled to share it with others. This is – and has always been – the driver behind effective media relations: pitch the editor and she writes a story that is distributed to her entire readership.
In a way, the “Like” button has converted social media users into copy editors. Whether through Facebook or Twitter or good, old fashioned email or text, your members are influencing what content the members of their individual social networks are viewing through their own recommendations.
So, if you take the time to create quality educational content on how members can improve their credit scores, for example, be sure to take the extra step of adding a “Share” button to it when you post online. Utilize social media buttons to make it easier for consumers of your content to quickly and easily upload the link to their own social media networks. Finally, consider how your audience accesses and views your content and have technology in place to cater to those preferences. What looks great on a laptop screen won’t necessarily translate to a mobile device’s screen and vice versa.
The saying “Content is King” has always been true, but never more than today as U.S. consumers are bombarded massive amounts of relevant and irrelevant content through a myriad of delivery channels. It is no longer enough to simply have a Facebook or Twitter storefront set up. The focus of attention is now on retaining followers and growing their numbers, and that depends entirely on how much value that channel provides to your followers.
J. Blair Logan is vice president & group director at William Mills Agency, the nation’s largest independent financial services and technology public relations firm. I invite you to follow William Mills Agency on Twitter as well as check out our FinTech Marketing blog.