Tuesday, October 9, 2007

CU Communicator Has Moved!


CU Communicator has moved to the Wordpress blog platform, effective Monday, October 8th. E-mail subscribers to the blog should have already gotten their opt-ins to the new blog address.

For those of you who are subscribed to the blog using a feed service, the new blog address is http://www.cucommunicator.wordpress.com/.

The Wordpress platform offers more features and flexibility that will help the blog grow into the future. In the meantime, thanks for your support - and see you at the new meeting spot!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This One's for You, Keri

The banner ad didn't grab my eye at first as I scanned the Winston-Salem Journal online last week. And then, a flicker of delayed recognition caused me to scroll back up the page. The smiling face was indeed familiar, and the words "Help Keri" naturally caused me to click and investigate more.
We all knew her as Keri Brown when she worked at Allegacy Federal Credit Union in the marketing department. Keri served on the League Marketing Council's executive committee when I was just getting started at the League in 2004.
She later left the credit union and our paths had not crossed lately.
Always quick with a laugh, cheerful, energetic and fun ... Keri was a hard-worker and a key to the success of the council. She had a wicked sense of humor and a million dollar smile.
The web site the banner ad transported me to was a shock.

Keri's married now.

Keri's 29 years old.

Keri's got a newborn daughter.

Keri's got Lou Gehrig's disease.

Keri's family & friends have rallied around her, and the web site is both a means of sharing information and allowing people to send their thoughts to Keri and her family. You will find the guest book of this web site at http://www.helpkeri.com/guestbook.html.

Also, Winston-Salem Journal Reporter Janice Gaston penned a powerful front-page article about Keri's life and her battle with ALS. Read it here.

Credit union people throughout the State, some of whom have never met her, have been gracious in offering their support, love and prayers to Keri via the web site. I invite you to do the same.

And think of Keri the next time you pick up a child, feel the sun hit your face, stroll along the beach, or do any of the million things each day that we take for granted.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On Katrina's Second Anniversary, Mississippi Credit Unions Pause to Say Thank You

We all remember the heart-rending scenes from the Gulf Coast in the days that followed August 29, 2005. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, so many people lost everything they own - and worse.

In the wake of the storm, credit unions across the world banded together to help out our neighbors. The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation was one of many credit union organizations to assist those in need. The CCUF donated more than $120,000 in direct cash assistance to victims of the storm.

On this second anniversary, the Mississippi Credit Union Association sent out this video to say thanks to those of you who were a part of the recovery. It's emotionally powerful stuff, complete with interviews from people two years ago expressing gratitude at a low point in their lives.

In addition to the video posted below, if you go to www.youtube.com/mscreditunionassoc, you can leave a comment for our friends along the Gulf Coast.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

SC League & Credit Unions Show Value of Building Relationships with Reporters

A hearty shout out to the SC Credit Union League's Brandon Pugh and credit unions in the Columbia area who emailed Warren Bolton, the Associate Editor of the Columbia newspaper The State, about the sticky Courtesy Pay issue. Bolton penned two columns on Courtesy Pay and the attention it's been getting on Capitol Hill (and with consumers, who have been burned by excessive fees for that matter). The follow-up column came as a result of emails Pugh and credit unions sent to Bolton.

In speaking with Brandon after the column ran, he noted that Bolton has a good history with SC credit unions, which extends back to an anti-predatory lending bill that the League and credit unions supported a few years ago. Credit unions are also noted for their continuing work in the financial education arena.

Brandon added that the League and credit unions also contacted editors & reporters regularly when the issue of predatory lending came up again this year. These contacts were not done with the expectation of getting a story, but merely to share opinions and reinforce existing positions on the issue.

Courtesy pay is no doubt a sticky issue for banks and some credit unions. Bolton inquired about the practice earlier this summer, and the League shared best practices, while at the same time acknowledging that it is a slippery slope in the credit union industry.

When Bolton penned a column last week blasting the practice of Courtesy Pay, it opened the door for local credit unions to share their consumer-friendly approach with Bolton via email. These email contacts resulted in a follow-up column that praised the efforts of these credit unions.

(Special kudos to Lucille Beckwith, who not only wrote an email, but also as it ended up - wrote Bolton's headline and lead!)

The column can be found by clicking here.

The League and credit unions in SC did a masterful job of getting a fuller picture of courtesy pay painted, without as Brandon noted, an excessive amount of spinning on the issue.

To recap, their process works this way ...

1. Establish relationships with the media.
2. Stay in touch by stating and re-stating positions on issues of importance.
3. Work together!

The steps that got them there are terrific, and I'm going to look into integrating their strategy here in NC. Nice work, South Cackalack!

CUNA Continues Viral Push with Little Guy Campaign

CUNA just christened another viral video starring the "evil banker" star of an earlier business lending video. This time, Uncle Big-Bad is out on the street lobbying against CURIA, and for higher bank profits and fees.

It's funny - and all too true. Check it out ...

(Edit to add: right after I posted this to the blog, CUNA released another video and announced a third is on the way. The second video is posted below, and I'll post the third when we get it.)

(Edit August 3: Here's the third video ...)

CUNA is also producing "situational cartoons" in the ongoing bank vs. credit union struggle. These cartoons are sent out by email, in hopes that receivers will get a laugh, and then become senders of the same email. Here's the latest one ...

I like what CUNA's doing and hope they'll keep it up. Feel free to share your own thoughts on this by posting a comment.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Members Credit Union Ramps Up Football Promotion

Kudos to Members Credit Union for coming up with a creative, low-cost way to showcase its annual "Football Pick ‘Em" promotion. As mentioned here last week, Matt Davis and a few other credit union staffers … including CEO Jack Braswell … videotaped and produced short segments aimed at showing a more human side of the people who work at Members Credit Union.

Davis has bought Internet advertising on three outlets where Members has locations: WXII-TV in Winston-Salem, where Members is headquartered; the Sandspur, a Hope Mills newspaper; and the Hickory Daily Record. People logging on to these web sites can click on banner ads to view the videos.

The contest costs nothing to play and you do not have to be a member of the credit union to compete. The credit union selects weekly, monthly and grand prize winners in the contest. Weekly prize winners get a cap and a tee-shirt, while the grand prize winner gets to select a gas grill, a high-def television or a desktop computer for their prize.

Davis says about 600 people each year play Football Pick ‘Em, and he’s hoping to grow that number to 2,000 this year with the videos and advertising oomph. Since Matt is a video whiz, the videos didn’t cost them a dime to produce, and the Net ads set them back $1,500.

Matt says the point of the videos is to show the crew at Members as human beings that like to have fun. People you’d want to invite over to the house and surf the ‘net with, or grill out with … or (well you get the idea). It’s great to see people at a credit union having a little fun and not taking themselves too seriously. Way to go, Matt and Members!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Short Takes and Teases for A Friday

Ever seen those inane television 6 o'clock news "teases" that seemingly come on while you're around the dinner table? Stuff like, "A new study says a popular food may kill you, and you may be eating it now ... we'll have the story at 11." Well, this serving of CU Communicator won't kill you (and hopefully it's not inane), but it is going to leave you hanging just a bit. There's good stuff happening out in NC CU Land, and I thought I'd give you a peek at what's happening (without playing spoiler).

First, a short take ... as you stock market watchers know, the Dow gave up more than 300 points yesterday ... part of a rout in the global equity markets. The culprit, in part? Our old buddy, the subprime lending issue. Of course, daily movements in the markets are usually about expectations, not reality. Still, 300+ points is a big number on one day. Which leads us to our first tease ...

Foreclosure is about reality, not expectations ... Kudos to State Employees' Credit Union, which is about to roll out a big number of its own very soon, perhaps even today. About six weeks ago the credit union rolled out some products aimed to help members trapped in risky subprime mortgages. Well, SECU is working up a press release that will share the dollar figure of mortgage refi's in these products so far.

How big a number is it? Well, there's six zeros at the end, and two crooked numbers leading the train. Like I said, it's a big number.

Better than "the big number" though is the fact that hundreds of families in NC will keep the keys to their slice of the American Dream in their pockets, and won't have to turn them over to an auctioneer. Hundreds helped - in just six weeks.

Again, kudos to SECU for really being about "people helping people." If you've taken a pass on this issue so far and you could be helping, you might want to set aside some time today to take a look in the mirror.

Tease #2: another credit union that gets it ... Carolina Postal Credit Union. In this space last week, we chatted about CPCU's Priority Payday Checking, and the credit union's intense focus on serving the member, not the bean counters. Yesterday, the Marketing Diva of CPCU (and world renown) blogged an update about the product ... and the credit unions that are looking at adopting this program.

What the Diva won't tell you (yet) is that the credit union is about to roll out one heck of a great product and promotion. It's one part loan, one part slang, and one part duct tape (I'm not kidding). Best of all, it's a great fit with their members. More to come ...

Tease #3: are we having fun yet? Wow, the folks at Members Credit Union sure look to be! The credit union is putting a new spin on its annual "Football Pick 'Em" contest this year. Click here to go to the Credit Union Warrior blog to view some videos about "Football, not Futbol."

The CU Communicator especially enjoyed Office Destruction and Face Paint ... although the keen acting abilities of CEO Jack Braswell are on display in Management Meeting.

More on how the credit union plans to use these videos next week on CU Communicator. In the meantime, be careful what you eat for dinner. :)