As 2013 winds down, it’s a good time to look at the trends that will keep credit unions busy well into next year. Mobile, fraud prevention and crisis management are just a few of the topics that continue to gain momentum. Public relations strategies and planning can help your credit union successfully navigate these trends and continue to develop lasting relationships with your members.
1. Mobile Banking Continues to Grow
Members increasingly want mobile access to their accounts to make deposits and pay bills from the convenience of their smart phone or tablet. By the end of 2013, Deloitte estimates 2 billion active smartphone users worldwide. The expectation of reliable, easy access via mobile devices continues to rise and is more mainstream at this point than innovative. Credit unions will need to be tech-savvy and nimble to keep up with the latest developments in mobile banking.
PR Strategy: It will become increasingly important to create content that reads well across devices—laptop, smartphone or tablet. The need for concise, well-written content that is engaging and easy to read in a space no bigger than a smartphone screen will be key to getting your message out to your audience.
2. Branches: Fewer, Smaller and Different
Not so fast mobile banking. Members aren’t ready to let go of branches all together. In a recent survey conducted by Accenture, 66% of customers said they still prefer to talk to a person rather than purchase a product online. Still, as mobile adoption increases exponentially, “light” branches and kiosks are expected to become more prevalent, while the number of full-service branches decline.
PR Strategy: Clear communication about services and members’ banking options (e.g. branches, kiosks, mobile) will play a critical role in the success of developing and maintaining member loyalty. Using all your institution’s communication platforms to consistently convey your personal brand, will help turn members and prospective members into fans and advocates.
3. Recruiting the Next Generation
It’s time for credit unions to proactively connect with the next wave of staffers interested in the idea of “people before profits.” Targeted campaign development, which reaches out to a tech-savvy workforce through social media, can help find the right talent to propel the next generation of credit union employees forward.
PR Strategy: It’s time to include a talent recruitment strategy into your communications plan. Engage your members and prospective employees by effectively telling your credit union’s story—how you’re different and why you’re an amazing organization to be a part of. A LinkedIn business page is a great way to connect with members/prospective employees while posting company news and updates.
4. Attention Millennials
The quest to attract the Millennial generation is nothing new, and credit unions should ramp up their efforts to target this group of members. Also known as Gen Y, this audience has grown-up with technology and expect more communication from their trusted financial institution. This generation wants to manage their accounts with extras like alerts and notifications via text message, email and social media.
PR Strategy: There are approximately 95 million Millenials and they are applying for auto and home loans. Social media should not only be part of your credit union’s communications plan, but you should be using it to have real-time conversations about your services and engage these valuable members.
5. Be Prepared — Fraud and Crisis Prevention
The risk of fraud increases as credit unions expand their business product lines and field of membership. The U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network found that check fraud has become the second most common crime reported in suspicious activity behind money laundering. It’s vital to have policies and risk assessment procedures in place.
PR Strategy: A communications plan that prepares credit union executives to communicate effectively with employees, members, media and social media in case of fraud, or a similar crisis, should be part of planning for 2014. The speed at which crisis news can travel across social media is breathtaking. No one ever expects a crisis, but the worst thing a business can do is not be prepared for one … just in case. The credit union’s reputation is at stake during a crisis and having a solid plan in place is critical.