Q&A On The New Campaign

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Officials with the California/Nevada league and the task force championing an expensive and broad new public advocacy campaign were prepared for tough questions during an audience Q&A at the annual meeting here, but the questions never came. Instead, there were some questions asking for clarifications, interspersed with calls for support of the plan. Below are some of the questions asked by audience members:

Q: What about non-league credit unions?

A: Dave Chatfield, president of the CCUL: We certainly hope everyone will participate and participate as league members. If they wish to contribute, and I think they will, we wish they would do so as members, but they can also do so to the fund. But funds that are accepted will not allow access to other league-provided services.

Tony Mook, chairman of the Nevada league: In Reno we have had two nonaffiliated credit unions so enthused about the public advocacy campaign we did that they reaffiliated.

Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, task force co-chair: We certainly heard from some who said that if everyone doesn't pay, we're not going to play. That's why this is a mandatory assessment.

Q: As credit unions seek to operate like banks, what is the committee going to do to educate our own members about what is unique about credit unions?

A: Teresa Freeborn, who is overseeing the creative: Our hope is now that our marketing departments are spending marketing dollars to talk about what credit unions are, not just to get new members, but to educate. We were very deliberate in looking at distinct audiences. It would be great if our members could be our evangelists, so we will speak directly to them, and we will do research to make sure we are saying the right things.

Chatfield: Part of our audience is our members, but also our employees, who aren't fully aware and don't fully understand what is unique. I have my own unease about how the message ought to look, but I'm not an expert, and there are experts on what resonates with the public.

Henry Wirz, task force member: We have a completely different incentive system from banks. We work for member benefit, banks for shareholder benefit. I think if we can tell that story it's a very significant story. In my own situation I think it's very difficult to trust Wall Street. Credit unions don't have that, and we ought to be proud of that."

Q: What about producing a wallet card that we can use to help explain the differences and to hand out? Until we can say what's different, I don't think we can spread the word to our own members or the general public.

A: Chatfield: One of the first pieces produced by this campaign was a print piece that talks about what is the credit union difference. There were two-million orders for that.

Q: Any discussion of this becoming a media war with this campaign matched by the other side, which has greater resources than we can muster?

Freeborn: We built a media schedule and a communications schedule that allows for opportunities to change for just that reason.

Q: We can tell people how good we are, but all the banks have to do is say, 'You pay taxes. Credit unions don't.' How will you address that issue?

Wirz: We take all of our income in the credit union and only keep that portion required for reserves, and pass the rest on to the members, who pay taxes on it.

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