POSTED on July 21, 2022 IN PolicyWorks Iowa

As a PolicyWorks Public Affairs Specialist, Natalie Mahoney assists clients with social media, event management, public relations and grassroots communications.

*As first seen on CUInsight.com.

Credit unions. The cooperative model was designed to meet the financial needs of everyday people. That’s how the movement began, and that’s still where it holds power. Structure is one thing, but emotions are another. Credit unions can also leverage their strength by telling the credit union story of “people helping people” and how they are helping members in times of need. But the question is, how do you effectively tell that story in a digital era where information is constantly being pushed out online and through various platforms? Below are a few tips to consider when telling your credit union story to members and raising awareness on its cooperative mission.

Social media

Social media is one of the easiest tools to use to tell the credit union story. While all credit unions share the same cooperative mission, every credit union is also unique. For the past decade, social media use has grown exponentially and has been king at reaching members online and connecting with them. Use your social media pages as an educational tool to blend informative facts about credit union membership as well as share personal stories or details specific to your credit union that connect with its “people helping people” mission.

Press releases or media outreach

Social media alone won’t cut it. Consider local financial reporters your ally. As a best practice, credit unions should reach out to reporters or push out press releases quarterly. Pitch ideas may vary from employee promotions, new hires or innovative ideas, but the goal is to effectively share why these strategic enhancements help members in the long run and reinforce how invested credit unions are to the communities they serve. Press releases can be pushed out to a narrow or wide group of media outlets, so you can control how much media attention you want.

Impact reports

It’s all about the data. Pulling impact reports frequently can showcase how your credit union is helping build and rebuild communities one mortgage and used car loan at a time. Reports like these show tangible numbers, and create a level of trust with your members. They want to know where their dollars are going and the impact it creates within their local communities. This data can also be helpful when pulling together a press release or specific numbers from the report can be highlighted on your social media pages. 

Paid advertising

While social media is a top choice when it comes to paid advertising, it is important to consider your options to make the most of your advertising budget. The opportunities seem endless, but a good rule of thumb is being cognizant of the current trends. For example, while cable TV commercials is an option, understand that some members now are turning to streaming services such as Hulu, HBO Max and Netflix. In fact, 25 percent of the collective time consumers spend using their TVs is in the form of streaming services. With the rise in viewership comes the option of “over-the-top” advertising better known as OTT advertising. The phrase “over-the-top” refers to a streaming companies’ ability to bypass TV providers to deliver programing content directly to consumers. In the same vein, OTT advertising delivers ads directly to viewers through streaming devices and services and gives advertisers the ability to reach niche audiences with targeted messaging, making your ad dollars go further than traditional platforms. If your credit union hasn’t considered OTT advertising, now might be the time to explore how this advertising strategy can support your credit union’s brand awareness efforts and engage with your members in new, meaningful and personalized ways.

Use employees as advocates

As a financial institution, it is easy to focus on members firsthand, but credit unions can also use their employees to help tell their story. Recruit your employees and share the good work they are doing within their community. If they are active volunteers outside of work, share it on social media. If they worked diligently with a member, share their passion to help in an upcoming newsletter. Members see these positive interactions and look forward to being surrounded by credit union staff that uphold the same values.

Consider these effective story-telling options next time your credit union wants to showcase the “people helping people” ethos in different ways and raise awareness of its cooperative mission in our digital era.

As a PolicyWorks Public Affairs Specialist, Natalie Mahoney assists clients with social media, event management, public relations and grassroots communications. Prior to joining PolicyWorks, Natalie worked at a financial institution and assisted in various marketing projects. 

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