After the NCUA remade the corporate system, the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association wasted no time in renewing its financial commitment to iBelong, its three-year-old awareness campaign aimed at growing CU membership.
And in a gesture to ease the cost burden, the PCUA board cut by a third the assessments Pennsylvania CUs pay for the TV and radio ads, which since 2007 have played on stations across Pennsylvania and three more states where leagues have licensed the package.
"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, referring to the NCUA's Sept. 24 corporate seizures. "This is really a great time for us to move forward."
At a Sept. 22 meeting, 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.
Still, the campaign, which has also spread to Illinois, Mississippi and Vermont, has been deemed successful in Pennsylvania "based on a variety of metrics," according to PCUA. For one thing, said Kaczenski, growth rates among Pennsylvania CUs have outpaced the national averages in membership (2.2% vs. 0.9%), assets (8.9% vs. 3.8%), and loans (5.4% vs. negative 0.9%) as of June 30.
"When the campaign started in mid-2007, the growth rate of total Pennsylvania credit unions was just 0.06%," said a board statement.
In easing the expense burden to defray costs of the media buy, the PCUA board said the assessment rate for all CUs will decrease by 33% from 2010 fees. 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 $20-$50 million pay $27 per million in assets, and those $50 million and over pay $40 per million.
PCUA also said it is reconvening an advocacy-marketing steering committee made up of marketing professionals to look at new media vehicles and strategy for the 2011 iBelong campaign, with an emphasis on reach-ing a younger demographic.
"It may be social media, Web advertising or Google AdWords, but our steering committee will be looking at a range of alternatives," said a PCUA representative.
The campaign itself will cost $1.1 million, down from the $1.2 million after the assessment reduction and various cost savings.
PCUA said that it is able to hold the line on media costs because of various positive factors, including licensing income and savings on media buys as income-starved stations cut fees.
To help make up for any shortfall in iBelong funding, the board approved a $50,000 contribution from its service corporation, Pacul Services Inc.