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LATHAM, N.Y.-New York legislators received a dose of the “CU difference” this past spring when the New York State Credit Union League (NYSCUL) launched its credit union advocacy campaign. Building on that initial success, the league is preparing to launch two additional phases-both of which are designed to increase awareness on a statewide basis. “In my 12 and a half years [at the league], this is the first time we’ve tried to create any awareness across the entire state,” said Michael A. Lanotte, senior vice president of association services/general counsel. “We must keep going on to promote our message.” NYSCUL began fundraising for its advocacy campaign in fall 2003 by collecting voluntary contributions from credit unions-ultimately raising more than $100,000 from 75 credit unions across the state. Phase I of the actual promotions, which were targeted at state legislators, began spring 2005 with billboards along key stretches of highway in the Albany area and with local radio spots. “We wanted lawmakers to not get to the state Capitol without seeing our billboards, and the radio spots were intended to supplement that,” said Governmental Affairs Director Amy Kramer. “We thought we’d really arrived when lawmakers started to comment on them.” With Phase II-the launch of which coincides with International Credit Union Month-the league is taking its show on the road. Again, the league will rely on billboards and radio spots that promote and define the CU difference, but this time, the ads will air and appear in parts of the state where legislators reside. “We’re still gearing things at legislators right now, but if we can gain some awareness among the general public, that would be fantastic,” Lanotte said. Phase II is expected to run through the end of November, but Lanotte and Kramer are hoping to extend airtime for radio spots with the help of member CUs. “A lot of credit unions, as part of their annual marketing budgets, purchase radio time,” Lanotte said. “If the credit unions choose to run the radio spots beyond November, it would be great.” Not satisfied with stopping there, the league will launch Phase III of the campaign in the first quarter of 2006. With this phase, however, the message will be geared towards the state’s 4.1 million credit union members. Working with a team of professional writers and marketers, the league has developed statement inserts, posters, flyers and stick-on buttons for CU staff to wear. They also are working on articles that credit unions may use in their newsletters and on their Web sites. All materials will be provided free of charge to all credit unions throughout the state-regardless of whether they are NYSCUL members. “In New York, we’re very fortunate that we haven’t had a lot of public battles,” Kramer said. “But, if we’re going to face banker attacks, we need to make sure credit union members understand and can articulate the credit union difference.” “It would be fantastic to have awareness without a crisis situation,” Lanotte added. “We’ll also have an easier time with our legislative efforts if credit union members are aware of the credit union difference.” [email protected]

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