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DUBUQUE, Iowa -When does every member and potential member read an annual report? When it is in the form of a newspaper. For the past three years Dupaco Community Credit Union has delivered its annual report in a unique newspaper-type format and members love it. “We saw this as a way to inform our member owners about our activities and as a great PR piece that would differentiate the credit union from other financials,” said DCCU Executive Vice President of Marketing/Public Relations Joe Hearn. “We’ve gotten such a positive response with members telling the staff `we saw you in the paper’ – and since they perceive the annual report as a part of the newspaper it helps reinforce our credibility in the community.” Hearn says the greatest challenge is finding time to write the articles, but it is getting easier. With a basic format established two years ago what once took several months to write, edit, layout and proofread can now be completed in just under two months. Every article in the report has been selected to reflect an aspect of member and community benefits. In addition, the paper is filled with photos of staffers and board members to serve as another connection to members. According to Hearn the report from a strategic perspective is designed to give members “insights into the who, what, when, where, and why behind some of the credit union’s major projects over the past year and seeing the people directly involved in those accomplishments.” This year’s “front page” played up the idea of how a credit union is a “circle of cooperation” and the stories of how credit unions look for unique ways to give back to the community. In addition, Dupaco Community CU included a bank versus CU chart to show legislators how the two differ. As part of the credit union’s arrangement with the local newspaper, the eight-page report is printed by the Dubuque Telegraph Herald on its Web-press and inserted into the local Sunday edition, which is distributed to over 37,000 tri-sate-area residents, a week after the Dupaco Community CU annual meeting. “I’ve judged Diamond Awards and seen the slick glossy annual reports that are usually distributed to a few officers and key players but for the cost of about $10,000 we get something that not only gets massive exposure and does a really nice job of telling our story but can also be used to mail to legislators and reporters. People are extremely busy so with this they are able to glance through the headlines and still get a good impression of who we are and where we stand in the community.” Hearn says this newspaper format annual report is here to stay and the credit union plans to keep building on its momentum. “Every year after the report comes out there is a surge in financial activity across the board and the feedback from members is that they want to be a part of our credit union because they can see that we’re doing good things for them,” said Hearn. “So we’ll keep putting our stories out there and hope that members continue to view them as just factual accounts of our accomplishments and not bragging.” For credit unions thinking of following a similar path, Hearn says it is important to write the articles as a reporter – be factual and objective. It requires a different mindset and the stories cannot sound or resemble a press release. He also advises credit unions to write the articles ahead of time as they roll out the project or unveil a new activity-it will save time at the end of the year. But Hearn says most marketers, including him, are too busy to do that so at the end of the year make a complete list of stories and prioritize them. “From that point, it is like a puzzle and you put it together in a way that best reflects the aspects of your credit union that you want to highlight,” said Hearn. “It is about flushing out your unique statement and what you want the reader to glean from this report. It is a challenging process but it is a lot of fun and rewarding once it is done.” [email protected]

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