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Editor-in-Chief Paul Gentile is right on target with his comments about public relations as outlined in his March 22 column, “Credit Unions Have to be Ready for Good, Bad or Ugly Publicity.” It is time for all of us within the credit union industry to take a serious look at the public relations discipline and educate ourselves on the value PR can offer our movement today. Unlike marketing where the primary objective is to fulfill a human need – specifically the delivery of a product or service to a customer – public relations is intimately focused on influencing perceptions. The practice is expressed in a variety of ways, foremost among them is fostering and safeguarding one’s corporate brand identity, engaging in events that attract positive media coverage and by developing professional relations with the news media that will result in fair and objective news coverage of the credit union or our movement. My fear today is that credit unions may be contributing to their own demise unless all of us embrace a paradigm shift in the way we promote our movement, our achievements and our efforts in the community. Communicating anything and everything good that a credit union does will influence and shape perceptions. So why do we hesitate? Why are we unsure? Why do we need to wait for a regulation to make us do it? Please, let’s remember that if we do not have a hand in shaping the public’s perception of credit unions, others such as our competitors will fill that void and we may just wind up putting ourselves out of business. Then, what good will we be to people of modest means? I see it this way – a good and effective public relations strategy and practice will always be in alignment with serving our members. Walter Laskos Director, Public Relations WesCorp San Dimas, Calif.

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