Add Public Relations to Your Credit Union Marketing Toolbox

With social media blurring the definition of traditional public relations, how can smart PR elevate your credit union?

In the communications toolbox, public relations could be one of the best tools for your credit union. But, it’s also a tool that is often misunderstood and sometimes even ignored. Is your credit union making the most of all the communications tools available? Advertising, social media, print and digital marketing are built into your calendar and budget. These represent effective, but paid and planned, communications. Meanwhile, earned avenues are ignored.

Think about public relations (aka PR) to add another layer of dynamic communications and bring together your strategies into one integrated marketing campaign. With public relations on your side, your organization will be building trust in the community, amplifying its brand, and expanding its audience.

So, what is public relations exactly? And what could a public relations expert do for your credit union?

PR people are storytellers. They create narratives to advance their agenda.  PR can be used to protect, enhance or build reputations through the media, social media, or self-produced communications.  A good PR practitioner will analyze the organization, find the positive messages and translate those messages into positive stories.  When the news is bad, they can formulate the best response and mitigate the damage.

Five Things Everyone Should Know About Public Relations
Public Relations and Social Media

Thanks to digital content, your organization can gain traction online no matter its size. Even without a full-time communications person on your team, you can build social media profiles across platforms. Of course, we know that marketing and social media time can quickly add up!

A solid understanding of the intersection between public relations and social media will help your credit union build more effective campaigns. One reason why PR may be an ignored tool is because it is thought of as unnecessary. In the past, traditional public relations focused on influential headliners. You’re not a celebrity! Okay, so you don’t need to become world famous. But don’t you want your credit union to be the most well-known and well regarded in your community?

Additionally, on social media, you and members of your audience hold more influence than ever. This can be used for PR purposes. In fact, social media and public relations have several elements in common already. Micro-influencers are in part so respected because they are considered to be more authentic and trustworthy. Public relations has always been about building and maintaining trust, creating a natural connection.

Choose Messages to Amplify

A solid public relations strategy is especially important during charged times. Communities continue to adapt and change in light of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as in response to the political climate and social justice movements. These topics should never be far from mind in your organization’s mission control room. Public relations know-how comes into play when your organization needs to speak up and when it needs to go dark. Public relations is also key when dealing with negative stories, review, or even comments online.

Having a pulse on your community can also help you understand which messages to amplify through public relations. While health is a major story, financial wellbeing is also important. In the past year, home buying has been a major story. So has spending and saving in relation to employment and job security. How can your credit union step up to tell financial stories? And what financial stories need to stand out?

With public relations working for your credit union, your organization could be making headlines to share stories that will catch the community’s attention.  

Don’t Forget Awards!

Bragging rights exist for a reason. If your credit union has an amazing point of pride to share, then share it. With smart public relations, your good news will be celebrated and shared even more. Hopefully, your credit union is already making its mark, both by being recognized and recognizing others. You can leverage awards as part of your public relations strategy, and it doesn’t necessarily require winning a major award. And, thanks to awards coming from third parties, there is a sense of powerful validation here.

So, whether being recognized as a best place to work or for a great marketing campaign, share your good news. It could even be something that is local or internal, like your credit union sponsoring a local team or a staff member being recognized for stellar work.

Quick Public Relations Strategies for Credit Unions

Public relations require a lot of relationship building. This is about having a long-term strategy. However, the good news is that for credit unions looking for ways to step up right now, there are small changes to make. Do your staff members understand what makes your credit union so great? They are your first line of PR specialists and should know your company best. Share talking points, branding, and buzz phrases that can be incorporated into LinkedIn profiles or email signatures. These folks are also your subject matter experts. Get them out there! A public relations placement for your credit union doesn’t have to focus on the organization as a whole. It could be focusing on the good work of one person.

Additionally, one of the most powerful ways organizations can communicate and build their audience is through word-of-mouth marketing. Credit unions have a natural fit here, as member-based organizations. A positive and moving personal experience from a member at your credit union is very moving. Simply setting out to capture and share these stories is a public relations strategy for your credit union. In this way, your credit union earned these incredible reviews, but a little marketing magic brings them together into one package.

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