PR Insight: Community Engagement Is Just the Beginning

happy credit union volunteers at a community event
By Ayesha Jamil 

4 minutes

Local events are a great opportunity for credit unions to increase brand awareness while serving current and future members.

Many credit unions focus a significant part of their business model on community engagement. Being involved in local and community events gives credit unions the opportunity to further their brand recognition while actively engaging with existing and potential members—this can help establish, deepen and retain current member relationships while building new ones. However, as you continue to engage your community, it’s important to tackle each such engagement with a clear, integrated public relations and marketing strategy. 

Your members are an integral part of your brand. Since they are already interacting with your CU to some degree, it’s important to develop a strategy focused on making the most of your investment before, during and after the event. 

Humanize your brand.

Shaping your brand can start with the photos you post on your website and share on social media, whether it’s through the credit union’s Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter. Community events offer opportunities to take real photos of your members and your staff’s interactions with them, humanizing your brand in a way stock photos cannot. People love photos, especially ones in which they are included. In fact, according to invesp, tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without, and 87% of a Facebook page’s engagement happens on a photo post. Capturing genuine pictures while engaging with the community is a sure way to increase engagement and make members aware of your efforts. 

Develop an interactive narrative.

According to HubSpot, 72% of customers mentioned they would rather learn about a product or service by way of video. Many users are now turning to interactive videos, and if viewers find the content interesting, they tend to not care how long it is, giving credit unions free reign to create content that engages, starts conversation and builds trust. 

Credit unions should develop a storyboard to brainstorm what narrative to convey. Whether it will be a feature video from an event or a couple of snippets to be used in a longer video, community engagement is a valuable aspect of your credit union’s efforts and should be showcased as much as possible. Video from such events can also be used for future campaigns and to illustrate your credit union’s relationship with members. 

Share it.

It’s important to share the work you’re doing within the community. Members and potential members are interested in seeing how your credit union is investing in their community and helping other members. Whether through social media or in a more formal manner such as an email newsletter, sharing your progress and volunteer efforts is helpful to effectively position your credit union’s brand, further your PR messaging, share additional content and fill gaps during weeks with less content. The more you share on your platforms regarding your community engagement efforts, the more likely your members will develop a positive perception of your brand.

Go outside your realm with local media.

Sharing your efforts on your social media platforms is great for engaging with existing members, but leveraging local media is a way to take your community engagement the next level. Most readers and publications are interested in what companies are doing to help their local communities. Local media coverage exposes a larger audience to your work, which can be invaluable. Some ways to capture the media’s attention include seeking local radio show personalities to attend your events, sending information to outlets prior to events and also sharing your pictures afterwards with a recap for publications to share. 

Get your members involved directly.

Since your credit union is already interacting with members and the local community, you should leverage those interactions to share information about new services and products. Members are more likely to remember a personal interaction than something they glimpsed scrolling through social media or email on their phone. If there is a new loan promotion available or a new seasonal account being offered by your credit union, be sure to have information on hand to share, pique their interest and increase enrollment.  

Having a developed engagement strategy ahead of time can ensure that you never walk away from a community event feeling like you could’ve done more. Whether you went live on Instagram, shared the event on Facebook or posted some pictures—regardless of photo quality—members love seeing real, genuine content from their credit union. Showcasing your community engagement will help deepen relationships and engage with new members. Take these steps to properly leverage events and make the most of your PR and marketing program.

Ayesha Jamil is an account coordinator at William Mills Agency, the nation’s largest independent public relations firm focusing exclusively on the financial services and technology industries. The agency can be followed on Twitter @wmagency, Facebook, LinkedIn or its blog.

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