The corporate crisis aside, Pennsylvania credit unions are moving ahead--and even reducing the assessment--for another season of a three-year-old awareness campaign, iBelong, aimed at developing the member base.
"Just take a look at the membership numbers in Pennsylvania compared to the rest of the country and you can see why this kind of advocacy and media buy works well on top of last Friday's developments," said Michael Kaczenski, vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association. "This is really a great time for us to move forward."
At a meeting late last week, the PCUA board voted to continue the TV/radio ad campaign for 2011, stating it was cognizant of economic challenges faced by CUs and that the decision was "not an easy one" in light of reduced earnings.
The campaign, which launched in 2007 and has spread to three other states, has been "successful based on a variety of metrics."
For one thing, growth rates among Pennsylvania CUs have outpaced the national averages in several categories: membership (2.2% vs. 0.9%), assets (8.9% vs. 3.8%), and loans (5.4% vs. -0.9% as of June 30), PCUA said.
"When the campaign started in mid-2007, the growth rate of total Pennsylvania credit unions was just .06%," the board statement said.
To ease the burden on CUs, the PCUA board will lower the assessment rate for all CUs by 33% from 2010 fees, a decrease made possible by a series of financial gains. The assessment rate is tiered based on asset size with CUs under $20 million paying the lowest rate, just $7 per million of assets. Those in the $20 million-$50 million range pay $27 per million of assets and those with assets of $50 million and more pay $40 per million.
PCUA also said it is reconvening an advocacy/marketing steering committee made up of marketing professionals who will look at new media vehicles and strategy for the 2011 'iBelong' campaign with an emphasis on reaching a younger demographic.
"It may be social media, web advertising or Google ad words but our steering committee will be looking at a range of alternatives," a PCUA spokesman said.
The campaign itself will cost $1.1 million, down from $1.2 million as a result of assessment reduction and various cost savings.Separately, PCUA said it is holding the line on its dues assessment for 2011, "despite a number of credit union mergers and decline in overall dues revenue."