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HARRISBURG, Pa. -The $2.1 billion Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union is making the most of its marketing division. “Without a doubt our members contribute to our growth and marketing is seen as a department that drives that growth by getting members to the credit union,” said PSECU Vice President of Human Resources Cathy Tama-Troutman. “So the board recognized that and moved the division from a support position to one that is viewed very much as an operating area that produces results and income.” According to Vice President of PR/Marketing Consulting Joan Mallgrave that support is carried through to ensure that the team of 27 managers (yes, they’re all called managers) has all the tools at its disposal to succeed- from research to a multimedia unit to develop Webinars and video CDs for training. All communications are generated from this single in-house department. “When Greg Smith walked in the door as president the very next day we had the latest software available for desktop publishing,” said Mallgrave. “Since that time, the department mushroomed and Greg and the board see that we get everything we need without micromanagement.” Mallgrave says it has been great to see how marketing has grown from essentially a two-person operation in the mid-80s’ to now including units such as document management, the mail center and the recently formed public relations. The department, which consists of Public Relations Administrator Margaret Delmonico and PR Manager Melissa Etshied, has several responsibilities including implementing a financial literacy program in schools, developing a publicity program, sponsorships and community involvement. The move is part of an overall approach using the concept of Integrated Marketing Communications, where all communications is coordinated into one unified message from the various units within the department to ensure repetition and consistency of PSECU’s key messages. Delmonico says IMC has always been part of the marketing strategy here, but this year it became more formalized with the credit union really looking at every delivery channel from the Web site and e-mail marketing to advertising and phone messages and making sure the look and feel of the message is the same. “I am thrilled to see a separate PR department this year. Before now, PR and business development were the responsibility of one unit. It is great that the board recognized the need for a more comprehensive public relations program and approved the budget to support it,” said Delmonico. “Our focus is to make sure the PSECU story gets out there because we have a good story to tell.” Delmonico adds that educating members and playing a real role in helping community organizations get their events off the ground by providing support in manpower and not just dollars is a big part of that story. PSECU recently had a great opportunity to be a part of the “The More You Know” public service spots on television network NBC. PSECU developed and ran four spots featuring employees promoting volunteerism and the credit union philosophy; the American Heart Association Heart Walk; The Harrisburg Criterium Bike Race; and financial literacy. The commercials ran in between the national spots each quarter. “What was great about those spots was that it brought us such good will,” said Delmonico. “The organizations were thrilled that we were doing this for them and the Pennsylvania association was happy with the financial literacy spot because it encouraged viewers to contact their local credit union, not just PSECU.” Since marketing is such a huge strategic part of PSECU, when Mallgrave announced she would be retiring in 2005 it provided the impetus to completely reorganize the department so that her successor Marketing VP Barbara Bowker could begin the transition process. Bowker was most recently the assistant vice president of information technology services and has been with the credit union for some 17 years. Bowker’s responsibilities include business development, advertising, the mail/inventory center, document management, communications, research and a new loyalty project. “One thing we notice is that it is far more cost effective to retain than to acquire. Therefore we look across the board at what we offer using all the data gathering tools we have at our disposal to really understand our demographics,” said Bowker. “We want to focus our loyalty programs on more than just card rewards. Our goal is to look at how we can deepen the relationship members have with PSECU. In order to do that, we are looking at the profitability of member accounts and what we can offer members to encourage them to strengthen their relationship with us.” So just how did the marketing department get such buy-in from the board? Bowker says the board is so supportive because they have the opportunity to witness results first-hand. “The department as a whole has done a great job in including the board in different sponsorships and events,” said Bowker. “The board members really enjoy getting the first-hand experience of what the department does and they see the community response-so there is that immediate appreciation.” For example, PSECU Board Chair Kathleen Salmon promoted the upcoming Jefferson Awards, which recognizes people for their exceptional community service. Not only was Salmon on television spots but the entire board was also invited to the awards ceremony. Bowker says it also helps that the department tracks everything from members to current promotions and provides solid monthly reports to the board on not just the cost and the results but the percentage of penetration or how many people showed up at a particular event. Updates are provided to the board via a virtual board site. Mallgrave adds that having such a great team of people goes a long way to making marketing stand out. “It goes back to us all working together and there is a real camaraderie here,” said Mallgrave. “So one unit may come up with an idea, the concept is shared and if agreed upon, all units take ownership – it all leads to us working as one very supportive cross-functional team.” [email protected]

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