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Many excellent points were made in Sarah Snell Cooke’s recent column on PR pros working with the news media (CU Times, Aug. 19). Too often, heavy workloads and limited time reduces media relations to simply getting a company’s name in print as many times as possible-even when, with just a little more work, there could be a stronger story for the company to pitch. In addition to announcing the development and launch of a new service, sharing the lessons learned along the way could position a credit union in a leadership role. That doesn’t mean giving away competitive secrets but, rather, providing tips on what went right and what could be done differently. In addition to sending a press release listing new clients that have signed up for a product, digging deeper might show how a CUSO’s product helped solve a unique challenge or achieve significant growth for a credit union. This is the story to tell. We PR professionals need to think like readers. What topics would we, as readers, want to learn more about? What fresh ideas are out in the marketplace? What information can help us be more successful? And we need to think like reporters. What can we do to help reporters do their job? Public relations is a two-way street. Those of us speaking for the company need the media to help tell our stories and draw attention to our company’s strengths. The media needs credit unions and their business partners to share their knowledge, offer viewpoints and provide timely, relevant information. But to build good relations with the media, we also need to provide honest responses to sensitive issues-not giving away confidential information but being straightforward with the available facts. We also should alert reporters to emerging issues. We and the media want the same thing: balanced reporting. Given the events of the past year, Sarah’s column provides a timely reminder. Building-and maintaining-relationships with the media go a long way in any PR effort.

Peter Westerman

Credit Union Times

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