The industry buzz about fallout from those "bailout" headlines showed no sign of a letup this week.
Indeed, one online marketing publication, the Oregon-based The Financial Brand, said Google counted 300 different stories about the failure of the three corporate credit unions with many of those reports inaccurately characterizing the conservatorships and the NCUIF payback plan as a "bailout."
The Brand's author, Jeffry Pilcher based in Medford, Ore., also claimed a "PR debacle" occurred over the bailout controversy and is taking CU trade groups to task for failing to adequately prepare the public for the prospect of government intervention on the corporates.
In an e-mail bulletin this week counting the "bailout" citations, Financial Brand said the original Wall Street Journal article, "Credit Unions Bailed Out," was besieged with more than 374 comments, a Huffington Post article generated 287 comments, Yahoo had 188 and Fox more than 100.
"In a 24-hour period, around 500 people mentioned 'credit unions' on Twitter, 95% of them spreading the word about the 'bailout,'" the Brand article said.
Trade officials contend the Brand compilation is misleading since the articles themselves focused on the conservatorships with "bailout" mention eventually getting downplayed.
In a conclusion, Pilcher wrote that CUs "need to take a close look at what people are saying around the internet and on Twitter, then think about how they should respond."
What can be done, he asked, "to prepare staff with answers? How can credit unions help clarify consumers' confusion? What can the credit union industry do to combat press inaccuracies and distortions? Will credit unions manage a PR response?"
Most importantly, he continued, "what effect will this have on consumers' perceptions of--and trust in--America's credit unions?"
Pilcher also suggested that "it's very unfortunate that the mainstream press didn't report the story fairly or accurately, but now that the damage has been done, perhaps it's better to leave the story alone than to keep bringing it up."
"This PR debacle raises two very important questions for credit unions," he continued. "First, why wasn't the credit union industry more prepared for the potential fallout from a massive government intervention? It's not like many leaders in the industry didn't see this coming. Second, how will the credit union industry respond the next time there's a crisis?"