Public Relations Tips for the Banking Industry Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic


The number of people seeking unemployment benefits has risen to more 16.8 million people according to the Department of Labor, and the numbers are expected to keep rising. Is your credit union or community bank effectively communicating the ways in which you can provide relief to those who are wary of their financial situation?

Now is the time to really step up your financial institutions’ communications game. By incorporating – or enhancing – public relations (PR) in your overall banking marketing and communications strategy, you will be able to better educate your customers, members and community about the tools and relief benefits available to them.

Don’t pull back on your public relations amid the coronavirus – become a go-to source for expert advice on how to improve or maintain financial health during these uncertain times.

Benefits of PR during the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Builds credibility: PR is earning a third-party endorsement, which, for example, is when a journalist or social media influencer writes or talks favorably about you and your organization. This translates into positive publicity and when it works, it can have more value than any other format.
    • Tip: What do your customers need today? What areas of expertise do you have to help meet those needs? Use the answers to these two questions to help develop the story angles you will pitch to the media. Building credibility today around these needs will have a long-lasting positive impact on your members and customers.
  • Helps you become a trusted advisor. Placement in local media outlets is a great way to educate the community at-large on what matters to them most today. Let them know you are there to help them get through these tough times. Now is not the time to promote products or service, rather be a resource and trusted advisor for help.
    • Tip: Spend time developing relationships with your local media, including newspapers, radio stations, TV, bloggers, and other well-respected local influencers (including your local Chamber of Commerce). Determine what PR tactic fits best with each outlet, so your pitch is relevant. There are many tactics to consider, including:
      • Bylined articles, such as an opinion editorial in your local paper
      • Press release to highlight any major news announcements
      • TV news coverage and radio interviews to leverage timely topics (i.e., how to build an emergency fund during a crisis)
      • Speaking engagements, such as being a panel member on a local video webinar that is focused on helping small businesses navigate the CARES Act and/or the Paycheck Protection Program
  • Provides no-cost visibility: A solid PR plan involves no-cost visibility through media and public relations strategies. Yes, that’s right, I said no cost.
    • Tip: To start, develop a weekly PR plan for the next couple months. Keep it simple. This is not meant to be a burden to your team. In your plan, include the topic you want to cover, the angle, the team member who will speak on the topic, and the media outlets you will target. Check out the sample PR plan below.
  • It gets the word out. Don’t rely solely on the media to share your message. Take full advantage of all your marketing avenues to get the word out even more.
    • Tip: To further your reach, all secured media coverage should be shared on your social media channels, in your company eblasts and on your website to reach more customers, members and others outside your organization.

If implemented as part of your overall marketing strategy during the coronavirus pandemic, public relations activities will help increase your organization’s local presence and you will become a trusted advisor to more of your customers and members and your local community.  

Getting our clients’ message out to the right audience at the right time is our priority at Chartwell Agency. If you need help developing and implementing a public relations plan for your community bank or credit union – so you become the go-to source for financial health today – and tomorrow – contact us.

Sample PR Plan:

DateTopicAngleTeam MemberOutlet(s)
Week 1April is Financial Literacy MonthHow to leverage Financial Literacy Month during COVID-19. What should we be doing with our stimulus check to make it really count?What are some resources to help those without a job?Sara Smith Member Services CoordinatorLocal TV stations Local newspaper  
Week 2Local resources to help small businessesWhat financial resources are available locally to help small businesses during COVID-19?Joe Smith Commercial LendingLocal TV stations Local NPR station
Opinion-editorial with the local paper