Marketing without Money: The Secrets to Getting Positive Press

By Jeff Crilley

Credit unions often look for ways to gain exposure within their communities and do so through a variety of marketing techniques. However, credit unions should never underestimate the power of free publicity. According to Emmy Award-winning journalist and author Jeff Crilley, free publicity is easy—if you know the right steps.

“Great stories,” Crilley said, “have one or more of the following qualities: They are timely. The stories impact people. They’re unusual. In short, news is just about anything that will hold someone’s interest.” Crilley recommends looking for opportunities to promote your credit union’s story—especially during slow news times.

“Send press releases during predictably slow news periods. This includes government holidays. These holidays are slow news times, but newspapers and TV stations will continue to have space and time to fill,” Crilley said, going on to explain that November and December are the slowest news months during the year.

Crilley also noted the impact of media trends in determining whether or not a story will get coverage.

“Every once in a while,” he said, “the media will get hold of a big story, and you’ll have a feeding frenzy.” During these times, the media are heavily focused on one specific subject, so Crilley encourages credit unions to find an angle that ties into the big story or the “hot topic” of the moment.

Interesting visuals are also important in gaining coverage or special recognition.

“Even if you’re only trying to get a story in the newspaper, you should be thinking visually,” Crilley said. “Give the reporter something vivid to describe in the article. And if the visuals are really good, maybe you’ll get a photo alongside the story. Who knows? You may even end up on the front page. Newspapers know a great picture can sell a lot of copies.”

Crilley offers these additional tips for generating and taking advantage of free publicity:

  • Reporters don’t want to read a long press release, and when possible, a one-page release is recommended.
  • Even the most non-visual story can be made visual with a little creativity.
  • Don’t forget visuals for folks in radio. Your segment will always be better if the host has something to describe for the listener.
  • Watch, read, and study the news so you know whom to contact when you have a story to pitch.
  • Find real people and examples to help drive home your message.

For More Information…

Crilley will be a featured presenter at the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) Marketers’ Conference May 9-10 in Seattle. This advanced conference exclusively targeted at communications, public relations, design and marketing professionals offers two days of high-level discussion aimed at more effective targeting of the consumers credit unions need to connect with.

The conference is scheduled for May 9-10 in Seattle. The Northwest Credit Union Foundation is accepting scholarship applications postmarked by Thursday, March 15, 2012.

Registration and more information can be found online.

Crilley retired from TV news after 25 years in the business to start the country’s first “all journalist” PR firm. During his career he made hundreds of national news appearances, including on CNN, CNN Headline News, FOX News, The Discovery Channel, Good Morning America and The CBS Early Show. For more info, visit


Questions? Contact Training Programs Coordinator Yuri Jung: 206.340.4817,

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