WASHINGTON — CUNA President/CEO Bill Cheney unveiled a new strategic vision during the opening session of the trade’s Governmental Affairs Conference on Feb. 28. Cheney said CUNA hopes to leverage the “Unite for Good” campaign into social media and earned media coverage that will distill the thousands of individual credit union stories into one message that will help promote a united industry agenda.
Why an earned media campaign rather than a paid national branding campaign? Cheney said the effort will continue the social media awareness raised during Bank Transfer Day in late 2011, and will attract young members, who prefer socially conscious financial services providers.
“We’ve been talking about this as long as I’ve been in the movement,” Cheney said during his Feb. 28 general session address. “I used to be one of those young people, but I’m not so young anymore.”
In addition to attracting media attention, the initiative hopes to remove barriers to service through grassroots action, create awareness in the credit union difference and foster service excellent by offering diverse financial services that meet the changing needs of members.
CUNA’s affiliated leagues will roll out the program, making a promotional video available to chapter meetings and credit union managers who want to involve staff and volunteers, he said. Leagues will also include the message in their existing paid advertising campaigns, advocacy efforts and social media campaigns.
Cheney said CUNA will also create tools affiliated credit unions can use to implement the message in their media efforts.
Reaction from GAC attendees was positive.
“The message is simple, and says it all,” said Shannon Lavender, executive vice president of the $66 million EPFCU of Washington, D.C. “I think this is something the industry can get behind, and something that can reach the younger generation.”
Lavender also said she likes the strategy of using social media to attract new members because that’s the medium the future of the movement prefers.
Nancy Croix-Stroud, president/CEO of the $45 million First Class American CU of Ft. Worth, Texas, said she loved the campaign.
“Those three words describe exactly what we need to do: stand united as an industry,” she said.
Croix-Stroud said she plans to use the message on her credit union’s Facebook page, in her quarterly newsletters to members and on her blog.
“It’s something new, not the same old thing,” she said of the effort.
CUNA hopes to leverage the idea into quantifiable results within 10 years, by 2023: a total of 50 million members who consider a credit union to be his/her primary financial institution, an increase in the value credit unions provide per household annually to $20 billion.
“Someone once observed that the difference between banks and credit unions this way: banks use people to make money, while credit unions use money to help people,” Cheney said.
He added, if credit unions don’t define our vision, others–specifically, bankers–will do it for us.