The arrival of a new year signals a fresh start, providing everyone with a jolt of motivation to make 2017 the best year yet. When it comes to public relations, credit unions should use this time wisely to kick off the new year on a strong note. January is the time for goal setting and strategic planning and developing a public relations strategy now will help you brainstorm new ideas and opportunities for your credit union to shine. This proactive approach to PR enables credit unions to develop key messages that address the needs of the media while achieving the business objectives of the credit union.
Without proper planning and established goals, a public relations program has a tendency to become reactive. In other words, there is no strategy behind media outreach and the credit union simply reacts as media opportunities, or crises, arise. A reactive approach is not efficient and it is rarely successful. Instead, credit unions must look ahead and develop a public relations plan that aligns their communication activity with what the credit union is aiming to achieve.
A good place to start is by scheduling a planning meeting with the appropriate credit union employees, such as marketing staff and executives in management. This meeting should be interactive and conversational, as it is designed to gather information on the credit union’s objectives and target audience. Priority media outlets should be identified and potential editorial content, such as upcoming announcements and thought leadership topics, should be gathered during this meeting. To evaluate the program’s success later in the year, be sure to put the plan and outlined goals in writing. This will ensure that the credit union refers back to the plan regularly and stays on track with the program.
Once your credit union outlines its plan for the year, it is important to determine how to achieve results. To develop a plan of attack, consider the following tactics to identify potential opportunities to generate exposure for your credit union.
1. Develop a timeline for press releases. During your planning meeting, identify several announcements that are worthy of press releases and determine dates to issue those releases. The timeline can be revised throughout the year, but having a schedule, even a tentative one, will help your credit union stay focused on generating news.
2. Review your target publications’ editorial calendars. A publication’s editorial calendar should be a valuable resource to your credit union, as it provides insight into what the publication will be writing about and when. Studying these calendars will help you identify opportunities for media coverage, whether by contributing commentary on an industry topic or by suggesting a feature about something interesting that your credit union is doing.
3. Identify speaking and award opportunities. Conferences and industry events are an integral part of a strong public relations plan, so be sure to research events that are relevant to your credit union and nominate a credit union spokesperson for a speaking session or panel discussion. Securing a speaking engagement, while difficult, is an incredibly valuable opportunity to showcase your credit union as a leader within the industry. Awards are another great way to boost your credit union’s recognition. To start, look at your target publications and see if they have an awards program, as these will likely be the most relevant. Then, research the award deadlines and eligibility criteria so you have all materials needed to draft a competitive submission.
You may want to adjust your credit union’s public relations plan over the course of the year, so develop a flexible program and be ready to adapt if needed. Although your plan may not look the same in July as it did in January, a plan is still essential for success in public relations. Building a dynamic and flexible public relations strategy will ensure that your credit union stays focused on achieving its business objectives and raises its public profile to reach existing and potential members.