WASHINGTON -Developing more “formalized” hands-on training to push a positive credit union message before lawmakers and the media, CUNA said this month it is offering a new political advocacy package to state Leagues and their leadership by using services of a Washington PR firm. Under the program which had its first tryout in November in North Carolina and again three weeks ago during the annual meeting of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues in New York, CUNA has hired Greener and Hook, an Arlington, Va.-politically connected communications agency to conduct the all-day, on-site training program. The package includes role-play practice in which CU executives are taught how to deal with “hostile” questions or statements from legislators or reporters. Greener and Hook has long provided political action consulting services to CUNA to deal with Congress with the Arlington firm listing several top GOP Congressmen and the Republican National Committee as clients. Also on its client list are other trade groups and corporations including Coors Brewing Co., W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Catholic Health Association. Richard Gose, CUNA vice president of political affairs, said two Leagues, in Ohio and Nebraska, have signed on so far with Greener and Hook for the program in which the day’s routine involves a contingent of 10-12 league staffers, CEOs as well as volunteers. “The goal is to make credit union managers fully comfortable in articulating clearly and concisely the credit union message and to tell their own stories,” said Gose. The training focuses on meetings and interviews with state and federal lawmakers and their staffs as well as business journals and the general press, said CUNA. Paige Fadden, CUNA’s political communications manager, said state Leagues frequently “ask help from us” in confronting politicians and the media, so the Greener and Hook program is designed to help them “build the needed skills.” The Greener and Hook sessions stress “effective delivery” and also provide participants with an on-camera, recorded critique of their work to ensure all are well prepared. The cost can run $7,500 for the daily session. Daniel Schline, vice president of government and regulatory affairs for the North Carolina League, said his League has done two of the Greener/Hook sessions in November and in March and found “the whole concept” valuable in getting CU leaders to “prepare and deliver the message of the great things we do in our communities.” CUs, he said, cannot “let bankers define us” and thus “the absence of our message” can prove harmful, he said. During the AACUL meeting in New York, Greener and Hook staffers gave a demonstration of the program before AACUL’s Political Involvement and Grassroots Task Force chaired by Wendell Lyons, who also is president/CEO of the Kentucky League and who took part in an all-day sample demonstration. “It was pretty intense and a very long day but it was a day well spent,” said Lyons. He said he would take up the program with his board perhaps initiating the program in Kentucky next year. “We would have to include it in our training and education budget,” said Lyons adding it would have the most benefit for CEOs of large CUs and their marketing and pr staffs. [email protected]

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