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Top Story: Two-Pronged Public Affairs Program Communicates OCC's Priorities and Activities
By Bill Grassano
“The OCC is one of the most influential financial regulators you’ve never heard of.”
How many times have OCC employees heard—and used—that statement over the years? Or how about, “I want a local banking regulator who is across the street, not in far off Washington, D.C.” For our field and district office personnel, the sentiment probably makes them want to scream, “I’m right here … down the block!”
To help shatter these perceptions as well as make us part of the conversation in the local arena, the OCC has established a two-pronged program focused on local and regional media and state banking trade associations. Community national banks are the target audience for this effort. The program is part of the OCC's Messaging initiative, one of eight strategic initiatives, and focuses on communicating our priorities and activities clearly and effectively to external audiences.
It’s important to note that this program is a team effort, and has worked well because of the active participation and contributions of Midsize and Community Bank Supervision (MCBS) field personnel, Assistant Deputy Comptrollers (ADCs), and executives who contribute their time and expertise to ensure success. They speak to reporters, develop data, and help identify banking trends of interest to readers, radio listeners, and other news hounds.
Regional conference calls
The first prong of the program involves outreach to regional and local news organizations. MCBS and Press Relations have been working together to hold regional conference calls in the OCC’s districts that target regional and local media. Six media calls have taken place in the last year or so in Chicago, Denver, and Dallas. Two more calls are scheduled for 2014 in Chicago and Dallas. The briefings feature local ADCs speaking about the condition of community national banks in their districts. One of the major attractions of these calls for local reporters is the access they have to the expertise of the OCC’s personnel in the field.
That’s a big win for reporters because they don’t always have that access; they are likely more accustomed to interviewing OCC’s executives at Headquarters and writing about policy or regulations. It’s also a big win for the OCC because local and regional reporters write articles about the condition of local community national banks with data, quotes, and perspectives from our field experts. The OCC becomes part of the conversation: Our district ADCs have something to say, reporters are listening, we let them know who is saying it—and the comments come from local OCC officials.
After each of the five district media calls, numerous articles appeared in outlets important to their local markets, including the Lincoln, Neb., Journal Star; the Omaha World Herald; Cincinnati Business Courier, the Bowling Green, Ohio, Sentinel-Tribune, the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the San Antonio Express News, the Houston Chronicle, the Daily Oklahoman, and the Arizona Republic. The all-news radio station in Dallas-Ft. Worth broadcast a segment covering one of the Southern District calls, and most recently, the Associated Press (AP) wrote an article about one of our Western District calls. The AP article enabled widespread coverage in several states in the Western District. It’s safe to say that while more work needs to be done, the OCC is becoming part of the conversation in dozens of cities and smaller towns where community national banks--and our field personnel--are located.
State banking trade association magazines
The second prong of the program involves Press Relations working with Banking Relations to place original articles by-lined by local ADCs, Senior Deputy Comptrollers, and District Deputy Comptrollers in state banking trade association magazines. More than a dozen have been placed in the last 18 months, with more on the way.
We have reached out to, and have placed articles in the magazines of the Texas Bankers Association, Independent Bankers of Texas, Arkansas Bankers and Arkansas Community Bankers, the Ohio Bankers League (the Ohio Record), Florida Bankers Association, Community Bankers of Georgia, and both banking trade associations in Pennsylvania, among others. The Independent Community Bankers of America’s Independent Banker has also published the OCC’s articles.
The articles often feature content specific to a local district. For instance, Bank News, an independent trade publication with a large agricultural lending readership, published as its cover story, an article about agricultural banking. Two local ADCs—one from Kansas and one from Minnesota—co-authored the article, titled “Sowing the Seeds: OCC Insights for Agricultural Banks.” Another article, “What Are the Top Risks Facing Arkansas Bankers and Directors,” was featured in a recent issue of The Arkansas Banker.
The article placements improve the OCC’s outreach and messaging to community and midsize banks by highlighting the presence of local OCC examiners and staff in our district and field offices as well as focusing attention on the OCC's banking, financial, and economic expertise available to national banks right there in their locality.
To read the articles on the OCCnet, click on OCC Banking Commentary below or on the OCCnet homepage under Banking News.
Last Updated: 01/30/2015