What a difference a year makes. Last summer I embarked on a media tour of New York City. Joined by ICBA’s media expert, Senior Vice President of Media and Public Relations Aleis Stokes, I met with representatives from several of the nation’s preeminent financial news outlets.
It wasn’t exactly a Hillary Clinton book tour, but some of the top editors and reporters in the financial world were genuinely interested in what we had to say. Nevertheless, it was often an educational process. We were frequently informing them of the regulatory burdens facing community banks or introducing them to the community bank perspective on too-big-to-fail banks and credit unions.
This time was different, and in a good way. I was back at The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Bloomberg, and American Banker. But instead of laying out our industry’s top policy priorities and concerns, I was engaged in a two-way discussion. This time around, these journalists were fully familiar with the issues on the table. In other words, instead of talking at them, I was talking with them.
To me and Aleis, this was a big development for ICBA and community banks. It shows that ICBA’s relentless effort to raise awareness of our issues is making progress. Our voice—the voice of community banks—is being heard loud and clear. For example, when I brought up the impact of growing government overreach into the community banking sector, they were ready to talk about Operation Choke Point. When we talked regulation, they were ready to hear about the progress of our Plan for Prosperity and our petition advocating streamlined call reports.
And while these editorial meetings are often about the long-term payoff—i.e., ensuring these outlets remember to get the community bank position in their reporting—this year’s trip has paid immediate dividends. American Banker has already covered ICBA advocacy on regulatory relief, de novo charters and Federal Home Loan Bank membership, and Bloomberg included us in a report on new mortgage rules.
In Wall Street’s backyard, the nation’s top financial reporters and editors showed that they understand and want to cover the issues that matter most to Main Street institutions. That’s a testament to the hard work and dedication that community bankers across the nation and ICBA have put into raising our industry’s profile.