I Want Media Attention!!! (So Now What?!) – Part Two

Last week, we went over some of the media message channels you might want to consider if you’re looking to get attention for the work your credit union is doing and compared the pluses and minuses of each. We also threw out a few basic ideas about things that happen at your credit union that may be newsworthy.

With this baseline drawn, we’ll move into the most important aspects of getting your news out to the media. Many of these are common sense tips that will hopefully be easy to implement. Some will take legwork, but they are well worth the time investment.

The first and most important thing to keep in mind is that you have to put yourself in front of reporters to get in the media game. Meet a reporter for coffee or lunch, or spend some time on the phone with them. The purpose of the meeting is twofold – introducing yourself and the credit union to the reporter, and listening to the reporter so you can get a feel for what types of stories they are looking for in general.

This process can be a bit time consuming, especially if your credit union covers a lot of geographic territory. But this time investment helps you in two ways – you put a face with your name when you send material in, and you find out what types of information you should send. It can also help you out when a crisis hits the credit union (embezzlement for instance) – if the reporter knows you, you’re much more likely to get a fair hearing than if you’re some faceless person at Brand-X Credit Union.

Building relationships with reporters is important, but getting your news placed in the media is also depended upon another form of detail work – how complete the information is that you provide. One of the more common mistakes I see credit union people make when they send information to me is that they give very little detail about their events.

Sometimes, I’ll literally get two sentences on a credit union’s biggest events of the year, including annual meeting summaries or big fundraisers! Since the League loves to see credit unions shine, we’ll usually call or email people back to get more information so we can post these on our web site or publish them in Focus.

A reporter won’t call back for more information if you leave out details (why should they?), so you’d better make sure you’re giving them as much information as possible. In general, be sure to include six essential pieces of information in your press releases: who, what, when, where, why and how.

On that same note, send a good quality digital photograph in with your press releases after events happen. Odds are that reporters are not going to attend your annual meeting, but a complete press release and photo of the event increases your chance of getting a little coverage.

The final tip to consider is to be creative in getting attention. The Northwest Chapter holds a golf tournament each year. Over the past three years, they’ve reached out to a local radio station that has promoted the tournament and even had a couple of radio personalities play in the tournament each year! The chapter also appears on the local television station in Winston-Salem to talk about the tournament and credit unions. These efforts not only promote the tournament, but also position credit unions as organizations working together to improve the community.

So I encourage you to look for opportunities to be creative with the media process, and get to know the men and women who bring the news to your community each week. Granted, these rules are not etched in stone. What makes for a nice news item in smaller papers like the Hickory Daily Record or Jacksonville Sun won’t even be considered by big dailies like the Charlotte Observer. However, these tips will work in many communities.

As always, the League is happy to assist with media outreach and story pitching. A media contact list is located here on our web site. We also have press release templates available for you to download and use in the Marketing Resource Center. Let me know if you have any questions or comments!

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