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DALLAS, FORT WORTH, Texas – When the competition is fierce, Dallas and Fort Worth credit unions find that banding together is the best defense. Since 1998, the Dallas Fort Worth Credit Union Awareness Council has been ensuring consumers here know the credit union difference. “I think it is indicative of our industry as a whole that credit unions can cooperate for the overall good of our industry as a whole,” said Security One Federal Credit Union President/CEO and DFWCUAC Chair Pamela Stephens. “We’re lucky that Resource One CU President/CEO Jim Brisendine who founded this council recognized that we needed to get the credit union message out and he knew the right people to contact to get this process started.” According to Stephens, early on the group recognized that it would be important to include credit union leaders, so the council of seven is a mix of CU CEOs and marketing professionals. Consisting of Stephens, Tarrant County CU CEO Lily Newfarmer, secretary; Arlinton FCU CEO Patricia Mott, treasurer; Fort Worth Community CU VP Marketing Rochelle Drake; Your FCU Assistant Vice President Marketing; Security One FCU Corporate Communication/Training Manager Sheleah Hughes; and Evercom Vice President of Credit Union Marketing Jeff Ensweiler, the council generally meets once a quarter and monthly during fundraisers. “By including those decision makers the basic idea was that it would encourage more credit unions to buy in and participate in the campaigns,” said Stephens. Despite working with a budget dependent on suggested contributions that vary based on credit union asset size, the council continues to make an impact on consumers operating with an average budget of some $55,000. Its first effort was a television commercial that revolved around the theme that it is better to be an owner than a customer. Produced by the council the campaign ran constantly on local television stations as part of a package deal. In later years the council would include a mix of radio by teaming up with the Dallas Cowboys for an on-air sponsorship and fundraiser for CMN, broaden its reach to include cable stations and incorporate CUNA’s National Brand Comfort Zone commercials. With over 1.8 million credit union members in the Dallas/Fort Worth area alone, the council shifted its focus to increasing consumer awareness by finding creative ways to promote the credit union difference. For example, this year the Texas Rangers approached the council to partner in a program for a free sponsored CU Night at Ameriquest Field. Not only were some 20,000 tickets sold but also Texas Credit Union League President Dick Ensweiler delivered the first pitch and Lone Star CU’s Rachel Ramirez sang the national anthem. In addition, the national credit union brand flashed on the jumbotron screen. “It was wonderful to see all of us together cheering on the Rangers and our very own President- Mr. Ensweiler – while the exposure of such an event benefits all credit unions here,” said Stephens. Currently the council is in process of producing its own commercial that will be patterned after the TRUTH ad campaigns. It will feature a black background with no sound as very simple factoid quotes about the benefit of credit unions cited from sources ranging from newspaper articles to national surveys flash on the screen. “We’re excited about this latest campaign because it’s not just us saying how great we are but other reputable sources that consumers trust basically telling the fundamental truths about credit unions,” said Stephens. “For us because the Metroplex covers such a wide area,we’ve found that cable advertising is the most effective and cost efficient way to reach all of our members and potential members.” According to Stephens, with spots airing on such channels as CNN Headline News, Court TV, Travel Channel, E!, Fox News, TNT and A&E the credit union message is delivered to Come 1.1 million households in the area. “Because we rely on contributions we have to ensure that all members see that there is a value to participating in the campaigns so with television not only are we able to hit a pretty diverse group and coverage area, but we’re reaching them with greater frequency,” said Stephens. “That kind of exposure is a credit union’s dream and with this arrangement if there are any holes that need to be filled we get some freebies thrown our way and our spots get posted.” Stephens says the group is still learning and is always looking for more credit union marketing professionals and those interested should contact her at (817) 273-5941. [email protected]

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