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BALTIMORE – With four months to go until the end of the year, the Maryland Credit Union League is getting the gears in motion for launching its 2005 co-op advertising campaign. The League’s public relations committee met Aug. 12 to discuss the planning and fundraising for a new credit union Public Awareness Fund and co-op advertising campaign for 2005. As in previous years, the committee decided to ask member credit unions for voluntary contributions for the Public Awareness Fund on a “fair share” basis from credit unions based on asset size. A resolution was also adopted to keep that request at a suggested level of $20 per million in assets. MDCUL President/CEO Mike Beall said the League intends to raise more money this year, “both from credit unions and our business partners and vendors. We know that many of our credit unions are planning their budgets right now, and we want you to look at getting involved.” The League raised almost $100,000 for the 2004 campaign, and Beall said “the amount raised has risen significantly each year.” To help reach its fundraising goal for the 2005 campaign – $200,000 – the League is working the fundraising process differently this year than it has previously – instead of asking for contributions first and then planning a campaign, for the 2005 campaign the League’s public awareness committee intends to develop a “robust” plan and work out the costs before it asks credit unions to contribute, “so we’ll have something tangible to show credit unions about what their money will be going towards.” By changing its fundraising strategy, Beall said the League hopes not only to raise more money for the 2005 co-op advertising campaign, but also get more credit unions involved. He said about a third of the CUs in the state contributed to the calendar year 2004-campaign, and he attributed that to his observation that the credit unions “are still getting used to the idea of a cooperative advertising campaign. We want them to realize this is a win-win for everybody.” Beall added that, “We’re somewhere around the point of having 41% of Marylanders belonging to credit unions. Our objective for the campaign is to invigorate those that currently belong to a credit union but don’t fully use their credit union’s services, and also look outside at the nearly 60% of those that don’t belong to a credit union and have them look at credit unions as an alternative to banks and other financial service providers.” Along side running the 2005 co-op advertising campaign, the Maryland League also has plans to conduct its first statewide public opinion poll “to test consumer opinion of financial institutions in general, to garner consumers’ views on each, and use that information to tune our message,” said Beall. So far he said the League doesn’t have a hard date when the poll will be conducted, but he said “we’re looking toward the fall, maybe in October.” Concerning the co-advertising campaign, Beall said the next step is for the public relations committee to meet and discuss the campaign’s makeup including which media will be used. In the past the campaign was mostly run on television and radio, but Beall said he’d like to use billboard advertising as well for the 2005 campaign. “We generally find a high awareness of credit unions in Maryland. Our penetration rate of membership among Marylanders is 41%, and from my experience that’s very high. Still I’d like to see that number go over 50%. Maryland has a high concentration of federal government workers and there is a large number of credit unions government employees are eligible to join, so I think that number is attainable,” said Beall. The public relations committee’s plan is to start the 2005 co-op advertising campaign in the spring. Its fundraising plan is due to the League board at the October meeting. Once the board accepts the plan, then the committee will send the plan out to credit unions outlining the goals of the campaign and requesting a pledge from each credit union. Pledge payments would occur at the end of 2004. The Maryland League has three chapters – suburban Maryland, western Maryland, and Baltimore – and Beall said they are each very different media markets. One of the challenges for the public relations committee will be to develop a plan to reach each of the three markets that takes into account their diversity. “We’ll have to look at each market and try to adjust the campaign depending on what works for each of them,” said Beall. -

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