What’s old is new again at United Federal Credit Union ($3.7B, St. Joseph, MI). The Michigan credit union has revived the role of creative writer several years after the cooperative retired the role and morphed its functions into other jobs.
The new title holder, Diana Wake, is an experienced broadcast journalist who joined United in August 2020. She’s now enjoying a new career helping colleagues — including United’s chatbot — communicate account information and brand identity alike to members, the public, and internal stakeholders in six states.
Here, Wake describes what she does for the big Michigan cooperative.
What is the history of the role of creative writer at United?
Diana Wake: The marketing team had a role like this in the past, but the position morphed into other jobs over the years. In mid-2020, United was growing its marketing communications team and identified a need to have an in-house specialist who could think, write, and communicate both strategically and creatively.
United was looking to expand its verbal brand identity, but the department also needed someone who could step in and help our regional marketing coordinators and digital marketing teams with a variety of content items — blog posts, brand awareness, internal communications, community impact, and public relations. This role was designed to tell our brand messages using the insights and passion of a Team United employee.
How do you describe what you do?
DW: I am the go-to for all things written. Within the marketing team I handle press releases and media advisories, assist in creating content for social media, and copy edit emails and other member communications.
I also get to work with every department at United Federal Credit Union. I fulfill everything from small-scale requests — such as creating email templates for our mortgage team or crafting speeches for community involvement events or branch openings — to large-scale projects, including creating answers for hundreds of questions within our artificial intelligence chatbot.
Who do you report to?
DW: I report to Matt Orlando, our public relations manager.
CU QUICK FACTS
HQ: St. Joseph, MI
Data as of 09.30.21
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 23.4%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 4.1%
What makes you a great fit for this job?
DW: My degree is in broadcast journalism, and I have almost a decade of experience working on the production side of local television news. I spent my time in news researching and writing dozens of stories every week for a broad audience. Knowing how to write in different styles has been extremely beneficial in my role with United.
I currently spend a lot of time writing press releases, helping with social media content, and writing internal communications. With my broadcast background, I understand what information news organizations are looking for in press releases and how to pick a tone dependent on the story and audience we’re trying to reach with our message.
What challenges and opportunities for the credit union does your role address? How do you address them?
DW: The creative writer is both the promoter and protector of the United brand. It’s my responsibility to tell our story and show others what it means to have a financial institution that puts people over profits. I have the opportunity, both internally and externally, to tell the story of our employees and celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workplace.
I also have the opportunity to create stories and provide helpful information in our Advice Hub blog tackling big financial questions. These stories help people grow and improve their understanding of personal finances and empower them to make the best decisions possible for themselves and their family.
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What’s your daily routine at United?
DW: Every day is different, which is one of the reasons it’s such a great fit. One day I’ll be working with our new hires or getting promotions to write a press release and the next day I’ll be copy editing content for the AI chatbot feature on UnitedFCU.com to make sure members receive the information they need branded in a way they expect.
Whereas I’m working on larger projects, I’m also available to promote our community impact efforts in six states, write talking points for employees who are speaking in their communities on behalf of United, or research and write financial stories for our Advice Hub blog.
What are your areas of responsibility?
DW: My largest responsibility is handling our press releases. The topics range and can include promotions, new hires, and community involvement as well as important events including a recent visit to our headquarters by one of our credit union’s founding members.
My duties also involve internal communications. United has an internal website to keep everyone informed on upcoming campaigns, events, volunteer opportunities, and much more. Two of my responsibilities on that platform are to help write posts to keep Team United informed and to write blog posts for our newly created DEI team. I also provide support to any employee in need of copy editing or help writing things such as emails or social media posts.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected what you do at United?
DW: I started with United in the midst of the pandemic. Because of that, most people I work with are remote and I’ve never met them in person. Instead of sitting down face to face with someone who might have a request, everything is over virtual meetings and emails.
For a position that includes the word “creative” in its title, the pandemic has presented a unique challenge for finding ways to maintain creativity virtually. But United has more than 40 branches in six states, so even without the pandemic, my work would require virtual meetings for team members in other states. The pandemic forced me to get comfortable quickly and has allowed me to adapt to not working side by side with all my colleagues while still helping where I can.
How does your role improve member service?
DW: One of the largest projects I’ve been involved in was the launch our AI chatbot. This chatbot is the first line of answers for our members with questions about their accounts. I worked with multiple departments and our AI chatbot creators to write content for hundreds of questions to help our members quickly get answers to simple questions or connect them with our member service center.
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How do you track success in your job?
DW: We use software to track PR and tangible media coverage results. We also look at the impact our communications have on members and employees through social media comments, reviews, private and internal messages, and engagement in our community events and sponsorships.
Beyond that, success is providing clarity through communications. Our efforts inspire corporate giving through events including the United Way employee contribution campaign and our annual employee Pay It Forward campaign every holiday season. Through member financial education, we provide answers using our AI chatbot, direct them to apply for new products on our website, or provide our employees with information on how to best assist our members.
How do you stay current with topics that fall under your role?
DW: I’m a member of our local Public Relations Society of America chapter. It provides great resources about trends in PR on a weekly basis that help keep me informed on everything from encouraging DEI in the workplace to best practices for reaching people on social media channels.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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