ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Sarah Snell Cooke, editor-in-chief of Credit Union Times, kicked off today’s Credit Union Reality Check conference with a session on media relations for credit unions–the do’s and don’ts.
Cooke opened the session with a pop quiz: Does your credit union have a PR strategy? 40% said yes, but 51% said no, they had no PR strategy.
Cooke urged credit unions to craft strategies because this is key to getting a message out to the public.
She also offered various best practices for PR inside credit unions:
- Always be honest. Lying is not pretty.
- Know and respect deadlines.
- Be available.
- If you say you will call back, call back.
- Note a press contact on the credit union website
- Be interesting, don’t be boring
- Recognize that news today is a 24/7 business–be available
Cooke also ticked off some “worst practices” in PR. Topping her list are bad, poorly written press releases. She also urged credit unions to stop sending out bland, generic press releases with neither news nor anything topical.
In a comment, Paul Gentile, CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League and host of the Atlantic City conference, said that in interviews he frequently asks reporters to “read my quote back to me, please.” He elaborated that that way he knew he would be quoted accurately, and few reporters object to this read-back practice.
Gentile also said reporters thrive on “data points.” Do not rely on opinions to persuade reporters; use hard facts to get points across, he said.
Another key Cooke point about how credit unions can do PR better: “I advocate doing PR in house, not contracting it to a third-party PR firm. Nobody knows your business the way you do.”