A small thing can make a huge difference in the court of public opinion. If one person hears about a friend’s poor experience with your cooperative, the chance of that person joining plummets. And the odds he or she will repeat the story are equally as high. People remember extremes. And they remember the opinions of people they trust.
One way to manage how your credit union is viewed is through public relations. But how should you deploy your communications strategies? Leigh Brady, SVP for education services at State Employees Credit Union ($22.5B, Raleigh, NC), says hiring an experienced communications director is a strong first step. The person should know a little about a ton of different areas of the credit union, she says. You’ll also want to make sure everyone in the credit union is aware of what’s going on within the credit union, which is harder than it sounds. SECU issues about one or two press releases per week, Brady says, and employees need to stay in the loop.
Along with an informed staff, a strong database of contacts can help a credit union control its image as much as possible, Brady says. Once you are plugged into your credit union’s image, you can shape it and focus on what matters even more than public perception: the quality of the member experience. If you maximize the member experience, you can capitalize on the value of members as ambassadors who generate referrals.