Magazine article American Banker

Awards Reflect Renewed Interest in Community Relations

Magazine article American Banker

Awards Reflect Renewed Interest in Community Relations

Article excerpt

If you want to know just how urgent a priority community reinvestment has become for banks, look no further than the Bank Marketing Association's annual marketing awards program.

Grabbing two of the top three Golden Coin awards at the BMA's conference were campaigns focusing on community reinvestment. And the BMA says more than half of the 52 contest submissions focused on community outreach programs.

"It's a very hot issue," said Hana Sognnaes, manager of information services at the an affiliate of the American Bankers Association. "A few years ago we had nothing on community reinvestment."

Other Concerns Reflected

To be sure, many other important banking issues were mirrored in presentations at the BMA conference.

The third Gold Coin winner, for example, was a campaign to increase efficiency - a topic on the minds of bankers everywhere. And other marketing strategies dealt with competitive issues surrounding consolidation of the industry.

But a look at the winners in the product marketing and external communications awards categories suggests that bankers are reaching out to communities as never before.

One winner, Midlantic National Bank, Edison, N.J., found a way increase deposits while supporting local schools.

Dollars for New Equipment

The bank gave customers "School Dollars" for new deposits. More than 500 schools in the densely populated area were given funds to buy new equipment like computers and VCRs. The program brought in over $215 million in deposits, four times the bank's original goal.

"They were doing things to satisfy both issues: increasing deposits and reaching out," said Nancy Williamson, assistant vice president at Bank One, La-Grange, Ill., one of three contest judges.

Another winning approach was drumming up community development loans in a recession-ravaged corner of New England. …

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