July 18, 2012

JayRay guides Horizon Credit Union and Montana First Credit Union through a successful, second merger campaign

JayRay led Montana First Credit Union (Missoula, Mont.) through a campaign that resulted in a successful second vote by members to merge with Horizon Credit Union (Spokane, Wash.).

When the big M-word was facing Montana First members, news about financial institution takeovers made them reluctant. The credit union wanted members to know that as a not-for-profit credit union, a merger with Horizon would only bring benefits such as more to lend, more mortgage services and updated technology.

After a small voter turnout last December that resulted in a no vote, the credit union planned to give members a second chance. JayRay was brought in to guide communications efforts and turn the second vote around.

A campaign with the theme “Better for you, better for Montana” featured members, employees and community ambassadors explaining why they supported the merger and planned to vote yes. The message was delivered via outdoor, print, direct mail, web and in Montana First branches.

With the merger making weekly headlines in the local paper, a strategic media relations plan was also important to even out the handful of negative voices that were making a big presence. JayRay led the credit union through a strategy that resulted in more balanced coverage including positive editorials and letters to the editor.

“JayRay was able to effectively apply its campaign and credit union knowledge to help us better communicate the benefits and turn the vote around,” said Jeff Adams, CEO of Horizon Credit Union.

The result was a 56 percent vote in favor of merging. Montana First Credit Union will retain its name and employees, but members will get the benefits and technology of a larger credit union. The merger is expected to be finalized by the end of September.

Read more in the Credit Union Times.