We are asking that every aba member select an employee to lead a proactive communication campaign for your bank. We are providing all the tools to make the process as easy as possible



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Dear Colleague:

There isn’t a banker in this country who isn’t troubled by the criticism that our industry receives—in the media, from the public and in Congress. Our real challenge is that customers, neighbors, family and friends, reporters, policymakers and even our staff members may not be well informed about all we do to contribute to the success and growth of our communities. Banks lend to individuals and small businesses every day and faithfully contribute to economic recovery and growth in our markets. As we work to rebuild trust among our many constituencies, our positive story is one worth sharing.

Every employee in your bank—from frontline to support staff—is a valuable spokesperson. These individuals are reliable sources of information if they are equipped with the right messages.

Trust is built through relationships. This Toolbox is designed to help you effectively tell your story and to educate and strengthen relationships with five key audiences. We have opportunities every day to improve our standing within our institutions, among our customers, in our communities, with the media and with lawmakers. We must seize the opportunities to change negative perceptions of our industry by telling our story versus letting what others write, say or believe about us drive public and customer opinion.


We are asking that every ABA member select an employee to lead a proactive communication campaign for your bank. We are providing all the tools to make the process as easy as possible.

Thanks, in advance, for your help. Together, we can make a difference.


Matt Williams Bick Weissenrieder

Co-chair, Proud to be a Banker Task Force Co-chair, Proud to be a Banker Task Force

Gothenburg Sate Bank, Nebraska Hocking Valley Bank, Ohio



Proud to be a Banker Task Force
Co-Chair

Matt Williams
Gothenburg State Bank

Gothenburg, Nebraska


Co-Chair

Bick Weissenrieder
Hocking Valley Bank

Athens, Ohio





Scott Anderson
Zions Bank

Salt Lake City, Utah



George Beattie
Nebraska Bankers Association

Lincoln, Nebraska


Rod Brown

California Bankers Association

Sacramento, California
Alison Dowe

Synovus


Columbus, Georgia
Kathleen Murphy
Maryland Bankers Association

Annapolis, Maryland



Mike Nolan

Fifth District Savings Bank

New Orleans, Louisiana
Laurie Stewart

Sound Community Bank

Seattle, Washington
Bill Streeter

ABA Banking Journal

New York, New York

Bob Weiss

Beacon Bank

Excelsior, Minnesota

Steve Wilson, ABA Chairman

LCNB National Bank

Lebanon, Ohio




Making the Most of this Resource
This Toolbox focuses on five target audiences:
Employees/directors

Customers

The community

Policy makers

Media

For ease of use, some items appear in more than one section. Although the Toolbox can be used in any order, we strongly urge you to begin with the employee section. If employees are not prepared to represent the bank in their dealings with the public—or are not comfortable doing so—you are missing opportunities to strengthen relationships in the community or, worse, undermining those relationships and making your organization vulnerable. An employee who can’t speak confidently and knowledgeably about his or her company can raise doubts about the institution in the mind of the customer.



Although the materials in the Toolbox are generally self-explanatory, we’ve set up a dedicated email address to field any questions and gather feedback so we can continue to expand this resource. We want to hear from you. abacommunications@aba.com.
  1. Put someone in charge of this project. Someone needs to be responsible for organizing the work and moving it forward. Select an employee who has a passion about your bank’s reputation and the appropriate skill set and ask him or her to put together a team to own the communication process. Summaries of a few programs that other banks use are part of this Toolbox.




  1. Stay involved yourself. Involvement from the top of the organization in this initiative is critical, if employees are to understand how important it is. If they know it’s important to you, it will become important to them. You need to be 100% invested in supporting and speaking for the initiative.



  1. Do some basic research. We all like to think that our employees and customers love everything about our bank. There’s a simple way to find out: Ask them. They know what they think of the bank. If you ask them, they’ll tell you. If you don’t ask them, they’ll still know what they think, but you won’t be doing anything to address their concerns. They’ll probably appreciate being asked. Research will provide a baseline against which you can measure progress. A research template is included as a starting point for you to use or adapt to your needs.





  1. Making the Most of this Resource continued

    Talk to your employees—all of your employees. You can send them a written communication or, ideally, meet with them. A sample letter is enclosed for you to customize. The more they hear from you and know about all that the bank is doing, the better prepared they will be to field questions from their friends, relatives, customers and others. You don’t need to go into such depth that they’re overwhelmed. But they should be comfortable speaking for your institution and, in at least a general way, about the industry. Don’t forget about your directors. They’re similarly well positioned to be ambassadors for your organization—but you may need to encourage or guide them.





  1. Engage your customers. Banking can be confusing to the average consumer. Making it easier for people to understand and helping them manage their money builds loyalty. Answering their questions—especially during challenging economic times—not only educates them, but restores their trust. Asking them about their needs enables you to meet those needs.




  1. Reach out to the community. The people who are credible third-party spokespeople for your bank come in all shapes, sizes and positions. They may be public officials or serve on the school board or be involved in the faith-based community or ethnic organizations. Or they may be the town barber or a coach or librarian or checker at the grocery store. They’re the people whom others turn to and listen to, and every community has them. Meet with them. Get their impressions of your institution. What do they know about it and what don’t they know? When they talk to others about you, people will believe what they have to say. If there’s a college nearby, don’t forget the academics. They can also be opinion leaders. Most bankers have many opportunities to speak to broader audiences through Rotary, Kiwanis, the Chamber of Commerce or other organizations. Take pride in your bank and talk about it. The PowerPoint presentation that is a part of this Toolbox not only makes it easy to speak to those audiences, but to customize your presentation for your bank and your community. Customization is key. Use whichever sections apply to your situation, adding your own statistics, pictures and programs.



  1. Connect with policymakers. As a banker and a constituent, you are in an ideal position to get to know and educate your members of Congress, as well as your state and local elected officials. As a community leader, you and your member have a shared interest in seeing your community thrive. Educating policymakers about the impact their actions will have on their constituents or the community will provide important context. You needn’t have gone to school with the member or even have voted for him or her in the past. Write letters, make phone calls, call on them in their state or district office, and travel to Washington with your state bankers association. Be an active participant in ABA’s Direct Contact Banker program.



Making the Most of this Resource continued



  1. Build relationships with the local press. Newspapers and other media are distribution channels for news. They may or may not know a lot about the businesses they cover, and bankers can be a valuable source of education. The best way to build trust is to have a good relationship between two people—and reporters are no exception. Reporters want to write accurate, interesting articles. You can help them get it right and better understand the banking business.


Table of Contents
Internal Communications

Letter to Employees 9

Letter to Directors 10

Employee Survey 11

LCNB Case Study 13
Customers

Impact Statement 15

Q&A for Working with Customers 16

Customer Survey 20

Focus Group Instructions 23

Financial Education Case Study 27
Community and Opinion Leaders

Impact Statement 29

Speech 30

PowerPoint Presentation 33

Community Organizations 34

Regions Bank Case Study 35

Policymakers


Impact Statement 38

Grassroots Letter 39

VIP Invitation Letter 42

Industry Information Sheet 43

SpiritBank Case Study 46
Media

Tips for Working with the Media 48

Op-Ed 53

Talking Points 55

Impact Statement 59

Industry Information Sheet 60

Media Case Study 63
Resources

Communications Plan 66

ABA Resources 71

Ordering “Proud to be a Banker” Buttons 72
We want to hear from you. What other resources can we provide in this Toolbox that will help you tell your story? Let us know at abacommunications@aba.com.




Customize the following letter with information from your bank. Then cut & paste it into your letterhead.

Letter to Employees
Sample Letter from the CEO to Employees

As I’m sure you’re aware, banks and bankers are not always held in high regard these days. But I can tell you without hesitation that I’m proud to be a banker. We all should be proud—and we shouldn’t keep that pride and the reasons behind it to ourselves.

Each of you has likely gotten questions from friends, family and people in our community about our bank—and maybe even about the industry or economy as a whole. People who know that you work in this bank consider you an informed source about an industry that is extremely important to their quality of life and to the economy. Regardless of what department you work in, you are a representative of our bank—an ambassador for our bank. What you say—or don’t say—matters. I also understand that not everyone may feel confident or comfortable fielding these kinds of questions, so to help me address that, please take the short survey that’s enclosed/attached. It will give me a better idea of areas you’d like to know more about or understand better, or things you have concerns about. The responses will be anonymous.

Every encounter you have with our customers and within our local community is an opportunity to strengthen relationships. Think about other businesses that you deal with—stores or restaurants, hotels or airlines. As a consumer, you are constantly forming opinions about that particular company, for better or worse, based on how you’re treated and by what you read, hear and see. Our customers—and others in the community who aren’t customers—are doing the same thing with us; forming opinions based on their experience with us and what they hear from others. I want to knock our customers’ socks off! And I want all of us to talk with pride about the many good things bankers—all of you—do every day to help people and communities.

Thanks for all you have done and continue to do for our organization and this great industry of which we all should be proud to be a part. We couldn’t do all we do without you.



Customize the following letter with information from your bank. Then cut & paste it into your letterhead.

Letter to Directors
Sample Letter from the CEO to Individual Directors
Although I don’t usually write to you, there’s an initiative that we’re starting at the bank that is so important, I wanted to formally address it.

We are beginning a concerted effort to do a better and more comprehensive job of communicating about our bank, our actions in the community to help its residents and businesses thrive, and our civic and volunteer involvement. There is so much that people don’t know about us and the industry as a whole that I want to make sure that our employees, customers, stakeholders in the community, policymakers and the local media are well-informed about our activities and commitment.

You play an essential role in representing our bank in the community. You are smart, successful and an opinion leader. That’s why we are pleased to have you on our board. People who know or learn that you are director of this bank consider you an informed source about an industry that is extremely important to their quality of life.

In the past few years, you have likely gotten questions from friends, family, and other people in our community and elsewhere about our bank and the industry or economy as a whole. Every encounter you have with our customers and within our local community is an opportunity to strengthen relationships.

As consumers, we are constantly forming opinions about other industries and companies, for better or worse, based on how we’re treated, and by what we read, hear and see. Our customers—and others in the community who aren’t customers—are doing the same thing with us; forming opinions based on their experience with us and what they hear from others. I want them to have confidence in our institution and know that we value their business.

You’ll be hearing more from me at our Board meetings in the months ahead about this initiative, and I look forward to your participation, guidance and feedback. Thanks for all you have done and continue to do for our organization and this great industry. We couldn’t do all we do without your support and guidance.

Sincerely,


[This survey is intended to assess staff awareness/communication needs.]

Employee/Director Survey
Sample Employee Survey
This survey is anonymous. Your candid answers will help us better understand your needs.

Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statements. Circle the appropriate number using the scale below:

1 - I strongly disagree with this statement (SD)

2 – I disagree with the statement (D)

3 – I neither disagree nor agree with this statement (N)

4 – I agree with this statement (A)

5 – I strongly agree with this statement (SA)



Question

SD

D

N

A

SA

I have been asked questions by friends, family, customers and others about the financial health of [First National Bank]




1

2

3

4

5

I am well prepared to answer questions from customers, friends and community members about the financial health of [First National Bank]




1

2

3

4


5

I am well prepared to respond to customer and community members’ questions about the state of the banking industry




1

2

3

4

5

I am well prepared to respond to questions about [First National Bank]’s business practices




1

2

3

4

5

[First National Bank]’s management communicates openly and honestly with staff




1

2

3

4

5


Employee/Director Survey continued

The management of [First National Bank] acts with integrity




1

2

3

4

5

[First National Bank] works to make our community better




1

2

3

4

5

[First National Bank] treats its customers well



1

2

3

4

5

[First National Bank] treats its employees fairly




1

2

3

4

5

[First National Bank] has ethical business practices





1

2

3

4

5

[First National Bank] provides employees with the information we need to speak confidently about the bank




1

2

3

4

5

What are one or two things that [First National Bank] could start doing to improve the bank’s image in the community?




Is there anything [First National Bank] should stop doing that could hurt the bank’s image in the community?





Case Study

C ase Study: LCNB Spring Training
AUDIENCES: Employees

WHAT: Spring Training to help educate staff about the bank’s business and activities

WHY: To help everyone be an effective spokesperson for the bank

CONTACT: Steve Wilson, Chairman, LCNB National Bank
swilson@lcnb.com 800-344-2265

LCNB National Bank wants every employee to be informed and confident when speaking about the bank to customers, friends, family and the public at large. So a Spring Training program was created as a means of enabling all 271 employees to learn about everything the bank is doing and giving them a chance to get their questions answered. There’s also a companion Fall Training program.

Every Friday, the personnel at each branch come in early and set up so they can open on time at 9. At 8:15 and for the next 30-40 minutes, in the middle of the lobby, a bank employee talks with the staff about the topic of the week, its impact on both the balance sheet and the community, and fields their questions.

Twenty-five is the program’s magic number. There are 25 branches, 25 weeks to the program, 25 lessons and 25 teachers. When it’s Chairman Steve Wilson’s turn to lead the lesson, he’ll talk about corporate goals, ROA, ROE, new initiatives, and what the bank means to the communities in and around Lebanon, Ohio, where they’re headquartered. The lessons on other weeks range from CRA and security to trust, brokerage, commercial loans, flood certifications and EFT. Anything and everything the bank does or is involved in.

The conversations are two-way, and sometimes it’s the teachers who are learning. As Wilson says, “I teach you for 15 minutes and you teach me for 15 minutes. You tell me about areas in which we could do something better if we made this change or stopped doing something the way we’ve been doing it.”

The teachers also ask, “What do we do that is really stupid?” So much trust has been built up after over a decade of doing these sessions that people feel comfortable in giving candid feedback. That’s a terrific formula for fixing problems quickly and continuous improvement.





Customize the following form with information from your bank. Then cut & paste it into your letterhead.



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