A group of ten credit unions in greater Dayton, Ohio wanted to reach out to members of their community who were being impacted by the deepening mortgage crisis. A variety of ideas were discussed before settling on holding a mortgage informational telethon to assist their local community. The tagline for the event was “Mortgage Matters”. The ten credit unions partnered with the HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton, an affiliate of NeighborWorks, to provide homeowners concerned about their growing mortgage troubles with valuable advice and counseling. The HomeOwnership Center provides local residents free and low cost services to purchase and keep homes in the greater Dayton area.
One, Two, Three, Action…
While planning for the Mortgage Telethon, the participating credit unions first contacted a local media buyer to see what it would cost to get the event televised. They received feedback that the event would cost them $10,000, which was beyond their price range. Dodie Lockwood, Marketing Manager at Affinia Federal Credit Union, decided to contact the NBC affiliate to see if they might be interested in hosting the event. After speaking with the station’s staff, Dodie and others were able to convey the community service focus of the event. Not only did the television station agree to host the event for three hours during an evening newscast, they decided to sponsor it, charging the credit unions only the $500 it would cost to open the phone bank.
The station was more than willing to work with the credit unions to ensure that their event had the largest possible reach and impact. The station not only provided the communication necessities for the program to run, including ten phone lines and a toll free number, they also integrated interviews with the credit union employees staffing the phones into their 5 o’clock newscast. They went offsite to interview a member of the community who had been helped by the HomeOwnership Center and interviewed the Executive Director of the center as well. During the broadcast, a Mortgage Matters banner with the text “sponsored by Dayton area credit unions” was displayed onscreen along with the toll-free telephone number. In addition, they had a crawl message with information about the event displayed on their channel for duration of the telethon.
Once the credit unions had the local news station on their side, the focus shifted to marketing the event in the region. The credit unions displayed information about the event in their respective lobbies, distributed flyers, posted information on their websites and ran newspaper ads. In addition, a press release was written and distributed about the event. The marketing messages stressed the confidentiality of the service and that help was available should homebuyers need it.
Connecting With the Community
Each credit union was asked to provide two volunteers to answer the phones during the Mortgage Matters event. The HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton also provided volunteers and training for the employees prior to the event, so that volunteers were able to effectively ask callers about their situation in order to identify the appropriate next step. The goal was to move the callers into further dialogue with the Center.
On the day of the event, the volunteers were able to assist 166 callers. Of those, 155 left their contact information so that they could get further help from the HomeOwnership Center of Dayton. The Center is currently in the process of meeting with these people one by one to assist them with their mortgage problems.
Although the credit unions did not receive individual recognition from the event, it was clear during the broadcast that the event was sponsored by local area credit unions. The event showcased the community service orientation of credit unions for all of those that watched the event. While this may be a frustrating time for many homeowners, the event has not only made a positive public relations impact for credit unions, but a tangible impact on the community during a tough time for many Dayton-area homeowners.
Participating Credit Unions:
Affinia Federal Credit Union ($31.7 Million, Dayton, OH)
Code Credit Union ($79 Million, Dayton, OH)
Day Air Credit Union ($168.9 Million, Kettering, OH)
DayMet Credit Union ($89 Million, Dayton, OH)
FirstDay Federal Credit Union ($74.5 Million, Dayton, OH)
Incenta Federal Credit Union ($64 Million, Dayton, OH)
Montgomery Credit Union ($27 Million, Dayton, OH)
River Valley Credit Union ($146.7 Million, Miamisburg, OH)
Universal 1 Credit Union ($284.7 Million, Dayton, OH)
Wright-Patt Credit Union ($1.4 Billion, Fairborn, OH)