A Wonderful PR Moment: Oak Park Bank Wins Our Hearts, Then Business, With Screening

The triumphant scene from
It’s A Wonderful Life

Last Saturday, It’s A Wonderful Life played at the Lake Theater in downtown Oak Park.

Sponsored by Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest, which is situated directly across the street from the elegant theater, it was a free screening.

It also made for brilliant PR.

Call us sentimental saps, but my wife, Bridgett, and I were deeply moved by the classic film. (We were also shocked to discover that it was the first time either one of us had seen it from start to finish.)

In recent months, we’ve been mulling the idea of moving our money from JP Morgan Chase (or “Chase” for short) to Community Bank. Our resolve would only increase when, every time we went in with a question, Chase personnel would use the opportunity to try to sell us products we don’t need, rather than simply provide fast, attentive customer service.

Located just down the street from Community Bank, Chase is the latest in a series of titanic institutions occupying the northeast corner of Lake and Marion streets in the heart of Oak Park.

For the past 15 years, we had gone along for the ride, whether the sign on the door read First Chicago or Bank One or Chase. We tolerated little “mistakes” such as the time, just in the last year, when Bridgett noticed the bank had more than halved the interest rate on our savings account.

Oops!

Makes you wonder how many other accounts got shorted–and if miscues involving a too-high interest rate ever befall Chase.

Our decision to flee Chase has been made easier by Chase itself. Beyond the prior clumsy efforts to sell, rather than serve, us, an employee two weeks ago linked our debit card to a just-closed account. Three phone calls later, including one on a Sunday to a customer service rep, Bridgett cleaned up that mess.

All of which brings us to this past Saturday afternoon. Moments after we emerged from the Lake Theater, red-eyed from our tears that flowed throughout the movie, Bridgett deposited a check at Community Bank. It was on behalf of an association of which she is treasurer, and we chuckled about wanting to move, that very day, our personal funds there, too.

On Monday, on the heels of It’s a Wonderful Life, we began the transition. The movie, including Community Bank’s civic-minded role in its screening, has doubtlessly hastened our pace.

To be fair, I am sure that Chase has many wonderful, caring professionals. I wish the bank great success. But, at least in Oak Park, it has a ways to go in seizing opportunities to genuinely nurture relationships and engender trust.

Community Bank, on the other hand, seems to really get it. At a time when monolithic banks, and their greedy, tight-fisted ways, are high atop the list of citizens’ Reasons to Get Angry, it’s especially powerful to associate your company with a story whose central message teems with community, integrity and love.

Of course, you’ve got to be able to back it all up with action. The ball–and our money–is now in Community Bank’s court.

Related Posts:
The Sugar Beet Co-Op: A Marketing Model in Setting Proper Expectations
In the Midst of the Donald Sterling Debacle: 3 PR Observations: Reputation, Audio & Timing
It’s A Wonderful Life’ Flashback: My Chicago Trib Story on Karolyn Grimes, aka ZuZu Bailey

Cross-Marketing Makes Good Business Sense; But Have You Alerted Prospects To the Details?

Have you created cross-marketing opportunities for your enterprise?

And if so, have you told your customers, and prospects, about this great way to drive traffic in both directions? If not, or if are limiting your exposure (such as telling only those who walk into your business), then you are severely, and needlessly, diminishing your marketing message.

Below you can see a brief video recounting what one Inside Edge PR client, Allstate of Oak Park, has done with a next-door business, the historic and regionally renowned Petersen’s Ice Cream shop on Chicago Avenue.

Social Media Backlash is Natural: Steps You Can Take Without Having it Take Over Your Life

Anyone else notice an increased level of backlash against social media in general and Facebook specifically?

Yesterday, it was Garry Meier of WGN Radio, who wasn’t so much as trashing it as he was questioning how and why it fits into our media-saturated lives.

This is all a natural (and recurring) response to anything that takes an increasingly prominent place (some might say “invades”) in our lives. And it’s especially prone to happen when we didn’t really see it coming–it just sort of happened incrementally.

We’ve all heard (or are) the stories of people who scoffed at Facebook, checked it out once to see what the fuss was all about…and got hooked within minutes.

Whether you are born again in social media or a social media sourpuss, the below slideshow, which I first created in March 2009, may be a helpful reminder of the simple step-by-step process that you can take in this realm–without having it take over your life.

(Note: this presentation was geared toward an Oak Park, Ill. audience, so the “Pope” you see with the red ticket is David Pope, our village president. A little inside joke there.)

One last thing: it’s still lawful to become a fan of Inside Edge PR.

Humor + Humanity in Communication Paves The Way to a Great First Impression

I really am trying to write shorter blog posts–I preach it all the time and you are more likely to read this entire ditty if I stopped right after this sentence.

But I promise this one is worth the extra effort you’ll require to dig in here. In fact, extra effort–just a modest amount, mind you–is at the heart of this missive.

Think about your day-to-day journey. You know, the one that can often be filled with so much drudgery and sameness? Honestly, don’t you crave a little humanity–and more than a little humor–to come across your path as often as possible?

What if you were to offer those precious commodities, especially at unexpected moments and in unexpected places, to those whose path you cross?

Folks would rave about you. You’d generate the right kind of buzz. And, according to a recent survey, you would be 87 percent more likely to become a millionaire.

OK, so I made up that last one. Just trying to practice what I’m preaching and inject some humor into your life.

These ruminations flow after a decidedly pleasant encounter I had today with the Terms of Service for a new outfit called Patch.com. Yes, you read that right: terms of service–that dry legalese that hardly anyone ever even looks at, let alone reads (at least, that’s how I operate).


For months, I’ve been hearing rumblings of Patch and noticing veteran journalists, including at least one former editor of mine, have jumped aboard with the company.

But it was only today that I dug a little deeper. (Here’s the link for the Oak Park, Illinois patch, if this is all news to you.)

Because I plan to post stories and other content on behalf of various Inside Edge PR clients in the future, I decided that I really ought to click on the link for Patch’s terms of service.

I was treated to a living, breathing narrative that communicated all the required points (read: legalese), but it did so in a way that was a downright delight.

Some excerpts:

“We ask that you read these Terms of Use carefully before registering or using the Service. If you do not accept these Terms of Use, we promise not to get mad. But in that case, you may not use the Service.”

“You are responsible for the security of your password and will be solely liable for any use or unauthorized use under such password. Therefore, if you share a computer with others, don’t allow your Internet browser to automatically save your password. Also, don’t write your password on a Post-It note and leave it on your desk for all to see.”

Later, after spelling out some of the no-nos that will get your butt kicked off of Patch, there was this simple summation:

Instead of trying to memorize all that, you might boil it down to three main policies: “Keep it clean,” “Don’t try to trick people,” and “Treat others as you’d like to be treated.” Easy, right?”

By the end of it all (and by now you shouldn’t be shocked to learn that I read to the end), my regard for the company had skyrocketed. Bear in mind, I know little more than what I’ve already described, and this halo effect has already taken root.

How would you like your customers, clients, audience base, fans, whomever, to begin with that kind of overwhelmingly positive impression?

That’s the power of effective–human, humorous, real–communication.

So what are you doing–in your e-mails, in your voicemails, in any interaction that you’re having with others–to do that little something to bring a smile to someone’s face?

Do people dread or look forward to hearing, or reading, from you again? The answer lies at least partly in whether you take the extra effort that, in Patch.com’s case, inspired me to give them this rousing shout-out.

Related Posts:
My Two Cents on Humor’s Pivotal PR Role
Chicago Pediatric Dentist’s Playful Display Creates Buzz, Bigger Smiles

Teeming With BHG/Gloor Realty Promos, Activity

For the second straight year, Inside Edge PR client Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Gloor Realty is holding a clothing drive.

(The photo here is from last year’s initiative, which led to more than 2,000 items being donated.)

This year, the effort launches on Oct. 17 and has been expanded to include toys. If you’re looking to do some fall cleaning–and clearing-out–of articles that remain in good condition, we would appreciate your consideration.

Also, I’ve recently upped activity on the BHG/Gloor Realty Facebook fan page, including a weekly feature dubbed “Tuneful Tuesdays.”

The lifeblood of any Facebook Fan page is interaction and engagement with those fans, and so we’ve offered a modest incentive (a $10 gift certificate to Erik’s Deli, a longtime Oak Park restaurant) to spur on suggestions for future songs with real estate-related names in their titles.