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With 25 branches located in 23 communities, Northern Credit Union is the 37th largest Credit Union in Canada and the 10th largest Credit Union in Ontario. It offers a full range of personal and business banking products and services, with branches predominantly located in Northern and Northeastern Ontario – spanning a geographic area of approximately 1400 kilometers, from Thunder Bay to Arnprior.  The Credit Union was looking to spread the message of its excellent service offering and unique understanding of northern Ontarians, as one of the only institutions with a head office and leadership that operate out of the areas in which they serve.
Northern Credit Union
B&H Solution


Media relations:

Brown & Cohen develops new media releases every four to six weeks promoting a wide range of services, issues of importance to members and community-related activities. Media relations campaigns have included:

  • Northern Cents: What if You Don’t Win the Lottery book tour targeted at financial media
  • Financial boot camps targeted at media in almost all Northern Credit Union markets
  • New office opening targeted at trade and local media
  • Commentary on larger bank closings and Northern Credit Union’s commitment to the local communities
  • Commentary on personal finance impact of labour strikes in mining and steel industry dependent communities
  • Community contests, Annual General Meetings and other events

Media training:

Brown & Cohen has developed key messages for Northern Credit Union to help better articulate its unique features both in terms of service and offering. Using this information, Al Suraci, CEO of Northern Credit Union was media trained on how best to communicate these messages. He now understands what the media is looking for, and how to best present the Credit Union in his response.

Brown & Cohen also delivered an organization-wide interactive media training presentation.

Marketing support:

Each quarter, Brown & Cohen develops the Stiletto newsletter. A concept developed to attract women members, a key target market and often the decision makers in young families. The Stiletto, references the attractive and powerful women’s shoe – a play on Northern Credit Union’s Walking in her Shoes tagline.

Each newsletter provides new researched content designed to empower women to take on a more active role in their financial affairs. It also includes profiles of female leadership (rotating across all branches) and lighter content to keep reader interest.

Brown & Cohen also provides support to the marketing and communications department by way of crisis planning and reputation management. We have helped handle issues such as branch closings, robberies and internal systems conversions ensuring Northern Credit Union is reflected as a caring, responsible and capable institution.

the result


Brown & Cohen provides quarterly reporting and progress evaluation reports. This is in addition to monthly status updates to senior management by phone.

Evaluation has shown:

Since May 2009, there has been consistent print, television, radio and online media coverage across the North. In the past year alone, over 12 communities had media coverage including Wawa, Thunder Bay, Capreol, Pembroke, Iron Bridge, Hornepayne, Elliot Lake, Algoma, Timmins, Sudbury, North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie.

To report on the impact of the work conducted, Brown & Cohen uses the Media Relations Rating Points System that is endorsed by the Canadian Public Relations Society as the tool of choice for reporting and evaluating media coverage.

The Media Relations Rating Points system (MRP) provides a widely accepted, standardized reporting system for measuring the effectiveness of any media relations campaign. It tracks both total audience reach and cost-per-contact.

Between May 2009 and September 2011, over 107 pieces of media coverage was secured. This had an approximate reach of 3,140,068 people at a cost per contact of $0.042. The overall MRP Quality Score was 96.26%.

As well, Brown & Cohen has secured regular government representation at events and arranged for:

  • MPP David Orazietti’s office to send a representative to the grand opening of the new NCU head office in Sault Ste. Marie and present a plaque on his behalf
  • A letter of congratulations from MP Tony Martin’s office and arranged for a representative to attend the celebrations to present a plaque on his behalf. A tour was also coordinated for MP Martin
  • Mayor Keith Hobbs, MPP Bill Mauro and MP Bruce Hyer to participate in the grand opening of the new Thunder Bay NCU branch. Greetings were presented on behalf of MP John Rafferty and Minister Michael Gravelle.