SAN DIMAS, Calif. -- Ahh, technology.
Susan Luke and Kerri Smith are happily using the latest in credit union land's Webcasting arsenal to share the insights of industry leaders with thousands of people sitting at their office and home computers. Or just listening on iPods.
Luke, who lives in Toronto, Canada, and Smith, founder of turnkey marketer CU Exceed and a resident of the Greenville, S.C. area, own LeaderPrints, a partnership that is using the services of Overland Studios to, as Smith says, "further our mission of developing leadership opportunities for women throughout the credit union movement."
Overland Studios makes its home in the San Dimas headquarters of its owner, WesCorp. There, Joe Keller, the big corporate's director of Web technology, leads an operation that specializes in Webcasting--the art of streaming live video and audio over the Internet, and is expanding into other areas, including radio and television commercials.
WesCorp bought the former CIO Studios about a year ago to help expand its own educational offerings while making the communications channel available to other credit unions that may not otherwise be able to afford or access such tools.
"We're the only ones doing it," Keller says. "No one else in the industry is currently providing this kind of technology."
Luke and Smith were among the first from outside WesCorp to take advantage of it, traveling to San Dimas to put the finishing touches on a set of podcasts they put together from telephone interviews with leaders such as NCUA board member Gigi Hyland, Montana Credit Union Network CEO Tracie Kenyon, international consultant and trainer Carol Schillios in Washington state, and Mary Cunningham of USA FCU in California, chairperson of the National Credit Union Foundation.
"One of the beauties of this is the way technology is letting us share the insights of women who have grown up in the credit union movement, who have taken their organizations to new levels, and we don't have to spend thousands of dollars in travel costs," Smith says.
"It allows us to broaden the base and perspectives of what we can offer, and it lets people who listen to our work use their time efficiently. I know I often just download things like this into my cell phone and listen to them when we travel," she says.
Efficiency and versatility are among the operation's strong points, says Keller, a 16-year veteran at WesCorp who assumed Webcasting responsibilities about three years ago.
"We saw so much benefit from using Webcasting to reach our audience that we decided to pursue purchasing the studio," he says, a purchase that consisted primarily of computers and video equipment that now are part of a studio with lights, cameras and growing action.
Re-named Overland Studios, the operation began by continuing to broadcast WesCorp's own expert commentary, including about 30 Webcasts a year to about 7,500 users, and has since added NAFCU and Western Payment Alliance as clients for regulatory Webinars and presentations on topics such as electronic payment transfers.
Keller says its Webinars are different than such ubiquitous suppliers as WebEx in that "WebEx is PowerPoint over the Web and audio over the telephone. Our video and audio come through your computer screen together."
They also take the show on the road. That includes setting up a temporary studio at NAFCU in Washington, D.C., and going to Fort Bragg FCU in North Carolina to produce "Operation Best Wishes," an effort to connect overseas service people with their loved ones.
Now Overland Studios wants to help connect credit unions with their members.
"You can do a recording about financial literacy, for instance, and archive it on your Web site. Or we can do a radio or television commercial for you, and for half the price or less than it would cost somewhere else," says Walter Laskos, WesCorp's director of public relations.
"Look, credit unions are always talking about how to attract younger members," Laskos adds. "Well, the way to attract them is to use the same kind of media they're using. Podcasting, YouTube videos, the Web.
"I think when you consider all this, you can see that what we've got here is the type of media that will attract that type of audience and could be one very viable solution for building membership going forward."