Public Relations: Forging a Symbiotic Relationship with the Local Media

Public relations, coupled with marketing, can be an effective and inexpensive way to educate your market and grow members.


With slow member growth and limited marketing budgets, how can a credit union spread its message effectively? According to Jay Morris, Vice President of Communications at NAFCU, one way is to focus not only on marketing but also on public relations.

To initiate an effective public relations program, it is important to first identify the individual in your organization who will be responsible for media relations. This person will serve as the credit union liaison with representatives from the local media – e.g. cable television, community newspapers, or radio. His or her public relations responsibilities should be clearly defined in the job description and guidelines outlining your credit union’s policies when speaking with the media should be established.

According to Mr. Morris, you need to ensure your media contacts are familiar with the credit union movement. Differentiate credit unions from other financial institutions when offering ideas to the press and suggest angles that highlight the credit union difference. For example, serving the underserved, financial education, community outreach, and youth savings programs are key to the credit union philosophy and would likely intrigue a member of the press. Supply the press with pertinent credit union trends, specific statistics or studies, personal stories, or information about innovative products and services to help them accurately inform the public of your presence in the financial market.

One way to gain exposure is to draw attention to community events that your credit union sponsors. Security Service Federal Credit Union ($3.6 billion, San Antonio, TX) for example, hosts an annual lunch to honor the recipients of their scholarship fund and invites local media to attend. Publicizing your credit union’s community involvement is an effective way to develop greater brand awareness in the community.

While traditional marketing efforts are necessary to increase membership, an effective public relations strategy can help credit unions achieve greater brand recognition with minimal expense.

What public relations strategies have worked for you? Please share your stories by commenting below!




Aug. 1, 2005


  • The old Moola Moola mascot (a former kid's program by Bankers Systems) became so familiar in Central NY - among non-credit union members as well -that he is still in demand for the annual inner-city kids' Christmas party. Moola continues to make an appearance.