CUs Measured Local 2019 News Efforts, Revealing Huge Impact

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An experiment involving a handful of credit unions across California and Nevada uncovered the immense impact they are receiving from name recognition within local, regional, state and national online and hardcopy news outlets, industry trade publications, business journals and a variety of other media.

Managed by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues, the ongoing 2019 – 2020 analysis is using a unique data tool to study credit unions that are heavily active in creating and spreading positive, credible and legitimate news about their organizations and members routinely each year.

For the six credit unions participating in 2019, their locations, branches and community footprints span across local media markets in Southern California, the Central Coast, and Northern Nevada. Altogether, they’ve collectively reaped the following measurable impact within various news media for almost a full 12 months of 2019:

  • 5,700 “mentions” in domestic and international news media outlets of all sizes. A “mention” includes everything from articles, news briefs, or blurbs mentioning a credit union’s name or other topics and people of interest that are related to that credit union.

  • 11.95 billion in potential “individual” news audience readership (also known as subscribership or “sets of eyeballs”). This is split into approximately 11.9 billion online/digital monthly subscribers and readers, and 43.3 million hardcopy/print in-the-moment subscribers and readers. Several news subscribers/readers are repeats throughout the year.

  • $16.8 million in “earned” news media value. This is what news-media mentions are worth if the online and/or hardcopy publishing space was purchased for advertising purposes instead of “earned” through news-drafting and distribution efforts. In this instance, most “earned” media (if not all) is driven by news and public relations outreach — not paid advertising.

  • (Deeper analytics were also compiled in addition to this high-level overview above)

News Impact: Positive, Neutral and Negative
Marketing leaders and public relations specialists at these six credit unions that found unique opportunities to tell their financial cooperatives’ ongoing storyline within the communities they serve now have a detailed, measurable milestone to go by. These six are representative of nearly 30 credit unions somewhat active in media relations across California and Nevada every year.

They create and spread news through large donations, community giveaways, neighborhood efforts, member give-backs, support for organizations/business and nonprofits, quarterly earnings announcements, special programs for workers and families, product-and-service promotions, and a slew of other topics that are transformed into press releases and community outreach.

Many credit unions in the 2019 experiment, as well as those gearing up to participate in 2020, are also gaining a deeper perspective on issues in their footprint that could be perceived as “neutral” or “negative” news from a media-and-publications standpoint. Not all topics surrounding credit unions in their community are “positive” news. The adverse community chatter — no matter what the topic was — also revealed to credit unions what type of impact it would have on their institutions and community brand.

Credit Union Participants’ Reactions
Kerstin Plemel, vice president of marketing for Greater Nevada CU in the greater Reno-Sparks region, said being involved in the news-analytics experiment has helped the credit union strategize the best ways to promote its messages to the right audiences.

“It’s been interesting to have a more holistic view of our digital media impact and the value of that media being ‘earned’,” Plemel said. “You can see where things are gaining traction through these analytics as it all comes together in detail. We’ve definitely been exposed to a wider range of media options through this process.”

In the heart of the greater Los Angeles area, SCE FCU didn’t know just how many and “what type” of media mentions on the credit union were being published until Director of Marketing and Communications Annette Coronado decided to jump into the Leagues’ news-analytics experiment.

“We wanted to focus more on our public relations efforts. This goes hand-in-hand with those efforts,” Coronado said. “We also wanted to work with the Leagues to come up with new content to distribute to local media. We are eager to see how it continues playing out in 2020. We received more news-media traction as we continued ramping up our story ideas and news releases.”

Further to the south in San Diego, Sarah Bilyeu said that knowing the dollar value of media coverage and “top news” outlets of where her credit union’s news efforts gained traction has been priceless. The senior vice president of business development and community relations for San Diego County CU was able to uniquely distinguish between state and national news coverage versus local/regional coverage.

“We regularly send out press releases — and whether or not they get covered depends on the topic and nature of the content, as well as other news events on those days,” Bilyeu said. “The news analytics were valuable to us.”

Looking to 2020: CUs Can Get Involved
Different credit unions across California and Nevada utilize varying degrees of news-media efforts. For others, they have yet to open this door.

Geography, branch footprint, community focus, mission, and a credit union’s strategy usually play into the reasons of whether to embark on creating and distributing news. Additionally, several credit unions need public relations assistance and have turned to the Leagues for guidance.

2020 will continue revealing to news-analytics participants the value of their credit unions’ local media efforts under the Leagues’ ongoing experimental analysis. Those who are not involved and want more information can email Matt Wrye at the Leagues.

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