Monday, September 29, 2008

Leagues move to inform media, public of CU soundness

MADISON, Wis. (9/29/08)--Armed with facts about credit unions' federal insurance and credit unions' performance, the state leagues moved last week en force to inform media and the public of credit unions' strength, safety and soundness.

Their weapons: advertisements, press releases, media interviews, fact sheets and op-ed pieces.

A statement issued by Texas Credit Union League President/CEO Dick Ensweiler Thursday was published by national and international news publications MarketWatch and EarthTimes (Sept. 25). Credit unions remain well-capitalized and fully insured, and "it's important for credit union members and the public to know why they can count on the safety and soundness of their credit union," he said. (See link for full statement).

The Indiana Credit Union League has consistently sent the good news about credit unions as a safe harbor to media.

"We sent out a press release in mid-July and one again today to media across the state emphasizing that credit unions are in a good position," Indiana league President John McKenzie told News Now Friday. He wrote an opinion column in a Marion, Ind., newspaper, and a column in the September/October issue of a northern Indiana magazine, Building Indiana.

"Our top priority with the media is to further emphasize the distinction that credit unions are a bright spot" in today's financial market, McKenzie noted.

The Detroit News published an op-ed article Friday morning written by Michigan Credit Union League President/CEO David Adams, urging readers to trust the financial system and Congress during the economic crisis.

"Not all financial institutions have contributed to the crisis and not all will need government support. Michigan credit unions have not been part of the problem, but will be part of the solution," Adams said. He added that "credit unions have not taken huge risks that led to this economic meltdown" and that deposits in credit unions are insured by the federal government. (See link for full article.)

The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) drafted a letter to the editor/op-ed article that credit unions can customize to send local media, touting credit unions' health and safety, it said in special edition of its Life is a Highway (Sept. 25).

"We understand that credit unions and their members are deeply concerned about the current financial conditions in our country," said Jim McCormack, PCUA president/CEO. "But this is the credit unions' time to shine, and reassuring members that their credit union is strong and their deposits are safe, is of utmost importance."

PCUA urged credit unions to "post notices on your website; send a separate mailing to members; submit an article or letter to your local newspaper; place lobby signs in prominent locations; include stuffers in statement mailings; and encourage front-line staff to share the news with members they serve."

On Wednesday, Mike Wishnow, PCUA senior vice president, discussed how credit unions are weathering the financial crisis during a radio interview on Pittsburgh station WMNY. (Life is a Highway Sept. 26).

Other efforts:

Wisconsin Credit Union League worked Thursday with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel for an article about how Wall Street affects Main Street, which will mention credit unions' federal insurance. The league will publish an ad this week in daily newspapers in Milwaukee, Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Wausau, Appleton and Green Bay. In a press release Thursday, league President/CEO Brett Thompson said, "Not only are consumers' federally insured share deposits in credit unions safe, credit unions are probably the safest depository institution in the country right now." (Use the links to the release and the ad).

The Ohio Credit Union League sent a press release Friday emphasizing that 2.6 million credit union members have insured deposits and their lending has increased despite the credit crunch. "It is important that Ohio credit union members know that they have the same protections as other financial institutions," said Paul Mercer, league president. Use the link for the full press release.

The Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (MDDCCUA), in a special FOCUS Newsletter (Sept. 25), said its Outreach Committee's fall ad campaign will focus on safety and soundness. The 30-second ads will air at top-rated radio stations in the Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Western Maryland Oct. 6 to Nov. 23. It will place bus tail ads in Baltimore and D.C. A Google ad words and search engine plan will drive consumers to the website about credit unions.

Mid-America Credit Union Association (MACUA) reported in a Sept. 22 press release that credit unions in North Dakota and South Dakota remain safe and healthy with strong balance sheets and solid capital-to-assets ratios. "Credit unions have weathered every financial storm since the Great Depression without ever costing the American taxpayer a dime in any bailout," said Tony Richards, MACUA president/CEO, adding that credit unions avoided the mortgage market mess.

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