Small banks uncover comms opportunity amid downturn

MIAMI: Smaller US banks are finding unique PR opportunities to assert their healthy states despite otherwise dire economic news.

MIAMI: Smaller US banks are finding unique PR opportunities to assert their healthy states despite otherwise dire economic news.

Ahead of the November 10 launch of its ad campaign “Confidence,” South Florida's TotalBank also unveiled a PR effort with its AOR República. Media outreach targeted business trade media and local media such as The Miami Herald.

“It stems from the economic problems everyone is experiencing,” said Noel Rosquete, VP and marketing manager of TotalBank, referring to the combined PR and ad effort. “Our bank is on sound footing. We want to communicate this to our customers and the public at large.”

Metropolitan National Bank (MNB), which works with marketing firms Design Matters and Multicultural Marketing Resources, launched its CashZone Check2Card program in Connecticut and Rhode Island last month.

This initiative, and an insurance program that will launch before the year is out, target “unbanked” and “under-banked” populations, including a growing Hispanic population, noted Mark DeFazio, president and CEO of MNB, which also serves clients outside of this low-income group.*

“We're positioned very nicely as a small bank to take advantage of [this] opportunity,” said DeFazio. “This population is... not sensitive to interest rates. [We've] seen very little downturn.”

In August, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Company, which serves Rochester, NY, and the surrounding area, accelerated its outreach efforts to customers, posting information on its Web site up to three times per week and sending that information to the 125 media outlets in the region. The bank recently decided to
continue the initiative through 2009.

“The root cause of this [turmoil] lies with mortgage brokers and investment houses that were unregulated,” said Stephen Martin, VP of marketing and PR at the bank. “We are being lumped in with those that have made missteps in that industry. There's no such thing as a credit crunch in our institution. We have never put out a subprime mortgage in our 121-year history.”

*CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article mistakenly attributed this information: "This initiative, and an insurance program that will launch before the year is out, target “unbanked” and “under-banked” populations, including a growing Hispanic population," by Mark DeFazio, president and CEO of MNB to Noel Rosquete, VP and marketing manager of TotalBank. We regret the error.

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