Tell the Truth: For Your Credit Union's Sake

Tell the Truth: For Your Credit Union's Sake

Four questions to ensure a clear, concise and accurate brand for your Credit Union

With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently citing a mortgage originator for false advertising, more financial institutions are likely to be on full alert about how they present themselves to consumers. Keep in mind many times, unfortunately, it is not about the reality, but the perception. This will make it imperative to review marketing material and possibly seek outside counsel to help make decisions about branding that are clear, concise and true.

When it comes to looking at the way you present your credit union to your members as well as the general public, the following are a few important questions to ask:

What Are Your Key Messages?
Develop succinct messaging that you can always point to as your credit union’s mission and motivation for being in business. Make sure all your employees are familiar with these messages and conduct occasional refreshers to ensure everyone is on the same page. Keeping these messages visible and consistent in marketing material, articles and any information that comes from the credit union will further solidify its brand. Misrepresentation is less likely to happen if everyone, from the mailroom to the boardroom, is clear on who the credit union is and its mission.

Have you Conducted a Survey Recently?
This gives the credit union insight into what members are thinking. Are the actions of your credit union living up to your mission? Surveys will also help identify what members may see as a need or trend. Credit unions may learn about specific areas in their products, service or technology that need to be addressed. Determining early what complaints and concerns are out there is the key to avoiding unwanted scrutiny from regulatory entities.

How Have you Implemented Feedback?
Review how your credit union has implemented feedback from members and even internal reviews. How a credit union approaches feedback shows how it values the input of its members and employees. Multiple disgruntled members could draw attention to a credit union’s practices.

How Does Your Credit Union Handle ‘Bad’ Publicity?
Although no financial institution or company likes the idea of addressing negative press, it is important to put a protocol in place. You should consider if the credit union will address the negative information or ignore it and ensure that every employee action has been honest and in line with the mission/messaging.

Who will be the credit union spokesperson if you do decide to respond? Is there any merit to the negative news? If the negative news is incorrect, what should the response be? How will the response be made, via an interview or a letter to an editor? What should be said and what should not be said regarding the negative issue? All these questions must be addressed and answered internally to ensure a unified front.

A credit union may not be able to be everything to every member, and some members may disagree with policies. However, making sure the policies are in place to prevent incorrect impressions or misrepresentation is important and can help credit unions avoid regulatory hot water, which seems to be heating up quite a bit these days.

Charlyne H. McWilliams is an account supervisor and regional sales manager at William Mills Agency,  the nation’s largest independent public relations firm focusing exclusively on the financial services and technology industries. The agency can be followed on Twitter, Facebook,LinkedIn, or its blog.

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

Leave a Reply