Credit unions all over the country are doing news-worthy things every day. Whether it is partnering with local realtors to reach first-time homebuyers, lending to new small businesses in the community, or creating financial education programs for teens, the credit union story offers plenty of opportunity for local news reporting.
However, for some credit unions it can be difficult to get word of their good deeds to the public and to potential members. This is especially true for smaller credit unions who often can’t afford to spend money on advertising or staffing a full-fledged marketing team. Your local media—newspapers, blogs, magazines and broadcast television—can be a great resource.
But before you go running off to your local newspaper asking for coverage in the Sunday edition, take a look at the following tips on how to pitch credit union stories to the media.
Pitch stories that fit the publication.
Step one is familiarizing yourself with the unique audience and focus of the publication you are targeting. You want to find the publication that already prints stories similar to yours. You should also know what section the story is most likely to appear in and what reporter would best cover it.
If a news outlet is running a series and your credit union story fits into that series, go for that. Editors are always looking for content. Aside from showing the editor that you’ve done your homework, your preparation is kind of a compliment to the publication. And a compliment is always a good way to start.
Do the leg work for them.
Pitch your story in the format the publication is likely to publish it. If they often publish lists, pitch your story as a list. If they like narratives, pitch your story as a narrative. Also in the pitch include potential sources for the reporter to interview on camera or in the story. If you are pitching a piece about auto lending, have a few members commit to discuss their experience on the record.
Make your pitch timely and relevant to the audience.
A newspaper is not going to publish a press release just because your credit union could use the free marketing. You have to pitch your story in a way that helps the reporter or editor see how it benefits the audience. And not just any audience, but THEIR audience.
Mention possible visual elements that could accompany the story.
This is especially true for television, but it is also important for print and online publications. Many websites now include video packages to accompany written content. Think of ways to represent your story visually and include your ideas in the pitch.
Build a relationship with reporters.
This is not an overnight process, but it is the best way to get your credit union some good press. If you read a story that you like, email the reporter and say so. No pitch, just praise. Also, offer up your knowledge as a resource and help reporters understand financial or cooperative concepts for a different story they are working on. Help them with a story today and reporters are much more likely to have an interest in your story tomorrow.