DC Influencer Q&A: Paul Gentile, Credit Union National Association

Paul Gentile, EVP, strategic comms and engagement, Credit Union National Association, talks about leveraging social to rally its members.

DC Influencer Q&A: Paul Gentile, Credit Union National Association
Why has the association decided to launch the Don't Tax My Credit Union initiative?
Congress is engaged in comprehensive tax reform and it is important to tell our story and reinforce the value of the credit union system to Congress.

Credit unions are nonprofit financial cooperatives that serve 97 million Americans with low cost, high-quality financial services.

We return $8 billion in benefits back to consumers annually and provide an important alternative to the for-profit banking sector. With no shareholders to please with high profits, credit unions exist solely to serve the financial needs of members. Now more than ever, members need a good deal on financial services.

How are you getting the word out about this campaign?
It is a truly innovative campaign that uses traditional lobbying methods, but is also relying on social media. We created the Twitter handle @CUNAadvocacy and hashtag #DontTaxMyCU.

Related to that, we did #DontTaxTuesday, a day in which credit union advocates make a concerted effort to blitz Congress with social media advocacy. There have been two nationwide Don't Tax Tuesdays, one in July, another in September.

We also created a website, DontTaxMyCreditUnion.org, where members can learn about the issue and send an email message directly to members of Congress. And there is a Spanish-language version of the site and outreach materials.

Has this outreach effort shown signs of success so far? What sort of reaction are you seeing?
The campaign has been far more successful than we anticipated. More than 1 million messages have already been sent to Congress on behalf of the Don't Tax My Credit Union movement.

For Don't Tax Tuesday on September 12, we had 5,000 tweets, 600 Facebook posts, and 8,000 messages to lawmakers. Overall, we garnered more than 3 million impressions through social media.

The campaign has been discussed on the state league website and most of the trade outlets including CU Insight, Credit Union Times, Credit Union Journal, Credit Union Magazine, Credit Union National Association News Now, and American Banker, as well as Capitol Hill publications such as Politico.

Twenty-three members of Congress have directly showed their support through social media using our hashtags.

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