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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In a pre-emptive strike against banker attacks, the Alabama Credit Union League has begun a nine-city media tour to spread the credit union message and “clarify the issues to reporters and editors” before bankers begin a negative spin. The media blitz, which has been tried successfully in recent months by a number of leagues, debuted Nov. 23 at the Montgomery Advertiser and with a break for the holidays will resume in January. “Given the current climate between banks and credit unions, we feel that it is extremely important for us to have a strong relationship with the media in our state and for them to have a full and accurate understanding of credit unions,” said Alabama CU League President/CEO Gary B. Wolter. “Just as we cannot afford to wait for proposed legislation on the removal of our tax-exempt status before we fight back,” credit unions cannot afford to be complacent “before we can give the media our side of the story.” Apart from Wolter, also participating in the briefings with reporters are members of the league’s governmental and public affairs staff and of its public relations firm, Stephen Bradley and Associates, LLC. In the first meeting in Montgomery, staffers fielded a diverse array of both basic and esoteric questions dealing with CU structure and operations plus the origin and status of the bank/CU clash. It was apparent, said Kate Brand, the league’s director of public and political affairs, that some reporters “play devil’s advocate in some of their questions” tending to show the influence of bankers who have already weighed in with anti-CU views. “But once we present our side, they tell us the issues are much better clarified and they thank us for it,” said Brand. In addition to a “strategic presentation of talking points, statistics and examples” the league has been providing each media representative with a press kit of basic information about CUs, a “What is the Credit Union Difference” fact sheet as well as specific CU numbers on Alabama. Also in the packet is a report, “Alabama Credit Unions and Banker Myths,” assembled by the league and CUNA. Other staffers joining in the tour are Gary McCarty, staff counsel and vice president of government and public affairs, and Vicki Williams, senior executive vice president and chief operations officer. In addition to the Advertiser, other papers on the tour include: Mobile Register, Birmingham News, Huntsville Times, Anniston Star, Dothan Eagle, Gadsden Times, Times Daily in Muscle Shoals, and Tuscaloosa News. [email protected]

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