LaPORTE, Texas (3/26/09)--The former CEO of Enron FCU (now Startrust FCU) has advice for credit unions trying to differentiate themselves in the public eye from bankers and other entities with "credit union" in their name: Communicate. When Enron FCU's sponsor, the Enron Corp., filed for bankruptcy, the credit union suddenly found its name a liability. People lined up around the credit union to withdraw their funds. Members didn't understand that the credit union was separate from the failing company. Jack McAdoo, who is now CEO of Beacon FCU in LaPorte Texas, made a decision to communicate, he told Natasha Melugin, director of REAL Solutions at the Texas Credit Union League, for the league's blog, CU Grow
(March 25). It turned out to be his best decision. "Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. And do it in person as much as possible. People like to hear 'it' straight from the horse's mouth," McAdoo said. He spoke to people in person and over the phone, sent letters and used the Web to "constantly and repeatedly" tell the story of how the credit union was different, independent, and safe and sound. Within seven months, McAdoo oversaw a name change, relocation and a field of membership expansion. Among his tips:
* Be ready to communicate with talking points and handouts. Know your plan and what you will say today, but wait, " he said. "Don't create a crisis by scaring everybody before something happens." * Keep staff informed so they can handle situations with members confidently. * Manage the grapevine. Make everyone understand nothing may be communicated publicly unless it has been previously approved. The person responsible for approving communications must be constantly available to handle situations that come up. Designate individuals to handle media inquiries.
For the full interview, use the link.