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As I read Paul Gentile’s “Editor’s Notebook” in the June 7 issue, I found myself saying “Yes! Yes! Yes!” again and again. As credit unions begin to take PR seriously (a wonderful and important development), there needs to be a basic standard of knowledge before beginning to work with editors and reporters. For one simple reason, that knowledge (really, that approach) is missing.

As a PR consultant for credit unions, CUVA is conducting an ongoing survey where credit union marketing directors are being asked “Do you view public relations as a part of marketing, or as a separate function?” The overriding response to date has been, as a part of marketing. Because credit union marketers are taking on PR responsibilities, they approach it from a marketing perspective. Marketers are not to blame, but they do need to know at least three things: 1. Media outlets don’t exist to give your credit union coverage. They have a job to do, and that is to report the news. If you have a news item or a story idea, offer it. If they find it newsworthy, they’ll use it as they see fit. If not, they won’t. Editors can’t be told what to cover and shouldn’t even be asked if it will be covered. If you want your story to run in a specific way or in a specific issue, enclose a check with your “press release” to cover the charge for ad space. 2. Don’t ask to review your articles! You have zero control of what the media says about your credit union, and it’s a complete insult to a reporter when you ask to see an article before it goes to press. 3. An ad disguised as a press release is still an ad. If you’re sending something to the media, make sure it truly is interesting, and it’s something you’d want to read about even if you weren’t the marketing director at your credit union. No news angle, no press release.

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