PR for Minnesota’s Socially Responsible Bank

How could owner David Reiling transform the image of a scandal-plagued bank once owned by a Mafia-linked fraud artist into a nationally respected banking phenomenon applauded for its philanthropic work?

By working with Maccabee to re-position University Bank as Minnesota’s Socially Responsible Bank. Building upon the bank’s selection as a Community Development Financial Institution, Maccabee launched a multi-year campaign that involved:

  • A media relations blitz that generated more than 100 mentions in local (Minnesota Business, Finance & Commerce, Twin Cities Business, and Mpls/St. Paul Business Journal), multicultural (Hmong Times) and national media (Green Money Journal, Bank News, Affordable Housing Finance and Independent Banker)
  • A direct mail piece adapting a Fisher-Price ViewMaster toy to introduce the bank to attendees at the national “SRI In The Rockies” socially responsible investment conference
  • A documentary, “Saving Our Urban Communities,” broadcast on St. Paul Neighborhood Network TV
  • A folk music CD, “Songs of Home,” developed in partnership with Red House Records, to raise funds for affordable housing
  • Driving national visibility for the bank’s work by placing a feature story on and in the St. Louis Federal Reserve newsletter, Bridges
  • Coordinated the shooting of the first in a series of YouTube-style videos to bring the bank’s socially conscious mission to life
  • Successfully nominating the bank’s executives for local honors, such as the Finance & Commerce “Circle of Excellence” award.

The results?

  • Deposits at University Bank soared, from $14 million in 1995 to $162 million in 2010
  • Assets increased 41% in one 12 month period alone, four times the average for community banks, to reach $194 million by early-2011
  • Maccabee helped the bank win the first-ever “Socially Responsible” award in the Ernst & Young ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ competition and “Best Corporate Social Responsibility Program” from the American Business Awards.