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DES MOINES, Iowa – The Iowa Credit Union League took home a first place PRIME award for its crisis communications strategy when credit unions in the state were in a tax battle with bankers during the 2003 state legislature. The award was presented during the Central Iowa Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s Public Relations Institute’s Mark of Excellence Awards ceremony. During the 2003 state legislative session, the bankers outspent CUs, hired more lobbyists, and disparaged CUs in the media through a negative advertising campaign. Still credit unions successfully mustered grassroots support, had a crisis communications plan in place, and defeated what would have turned out to be “crippling” banker-supported legislation that would have increased taxes on the largest CUs in the state. Iowa CUs also managed to shift public opinion in their favor during the legislative session. During and after the 2003 session, the ICUL and CUNA commissioned two independent, scientific phone surveys to gauge public sentiment about CUs and banks. The surveys showed Iowans’ opinion of banks shifted from being more favorable than CUs at the beginning of the tax battle, to significantly less favorable by the end of 2003.

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