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Building media relationships pays off for Ohio CUs
MADISON, Wis. (1/24/14)--It's a long-standing joke that reporters are always looking for a free meal, but the Ohio Credit Union League has used media lunches help boost media coverage for state credit unions.
 
The face-to-face dialogues over lunch have resulted in numerous articles and generated relationships that will help develop more newspaper coverage of credit unions, the league reported in its eLumination newsletter (Jan. 22).
 
Recently the league received an e-mail from Crain's Cleveland Business reporter Michelle Park, who covers financial institutions in northeast Ohio. Park wrote: "Can we organize a 2014 lunch like the others we have done? I think I need to meet more of the leadership of credit unions around here." The league obliged and will host a February luncheon with Park and several credit union representatives.
 
In another instance of the league's outreach efforts resulting in media coverage, a league-hosted lunch with Dayton Business Journal reporter Olivia Barrow provided the impetus for an article about Day Air CU's proactive assistance to its members following the Target data breach. Paul Mercer, league president/CEO; Patrick Harris, league director of media and public relations; Kimberly Stewart, the league's consumer outreach coordinator; and Bill Burke, president/CEO of the $272 million-asset credit union in Kettering, met with Barrow last week.
 
Burke explained how credit unions must address member needs following a merchant breach. He explained Day Air CU's decision to immediately notify members that they could request a new debit or credit card if they believed their information was at risk. Barrow followed up with additional questions and wrote the article. Use the link to read the story.
 
Lunches can also be credit union-driven. The league recommends that someone from the credit union commit to reading the local daily newspaper cover-to-cover, paying particular attention to coverage related to the financial services industry and personal finance.
 
When the credit union reader finds an article, he or she should e-mail the reporter and offer the credit union as a source of financial expertise for future stories. By suggesting lunch meetings to discuss story ideas, the credit union reader can kick start a relationship that can lead to regular media coverage for the credit union--fostering consumer awareness that can help the entire credit union system.
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