I’ve been following the informal campaign in Mike Welch’s column to educate credit unions on the importance of public relations (and the differences between PR and marketing). As a public relations practitioner whose career has solely focused on serving the credit union community over the past 23 years, I obviously appreciate his remarks. Mike really drives this point home in his column in the March 16 issue of Credit Union Times, “First Celebrate, Then Begin PR and Education Process.” He reminds readers of the vital role PR and member education should play in credit unions’ reaction to the new bankruptcy reform legislation. Communicating how emerging financial issues might affect members offers credit unions a great opportunity to do what they do best: put their members first. When serious issues have arisen in the past, credit unions have done a good job of telling their stories to the community. The valuable part PR played in assuring members – and the general public – of credit unions’ safety and soundness in the wake of Cap Corp comes to mind. “Operation Grassroots” and “H.R. 1151″ are two other examples. More recently, many in the credit union community have been educating consumers on the trap of borrowing from predatory lenders. It’s been said, “marketing drives the train, but PR clears the tracks.” Marketing is critical for educating members on the value of products and services, ultimately leading to the purchase decision. Public relations is equally critical for creating awareness, attaining and preserving harmony, and influencing attitudes. A well-timed, clearly expressed PR campaign on issues such as bankruptcy reform can do much to prepare members for coming changes and dispel concerns. Thank you, Mike, for expressing the “PR perspective” in such a well-articulated fashion. Margaret Blankers President Margaret J. Blankers Public Relations Group, LLC Overland Park, Kan.

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