Going Local Goes Big for Bank of Ann Arbor

, Posted on May 31

Photo Credit to mlive.com

It’s been in the PR best practices for as long as I can remember: Find the local angle, and give the publication, station or blog something its readers will care about consuming.

Even though this is one of the cardinal rules of PR — the ones posted to the bulletin board hanging next to your desk — it is often a challenge that falls short of the mark. To really pitch to the local flavor of the tiny town that is home to your client and its customers takes time, research and resources. Before you develop a pitch that only sideswipes the local lifeblood, take a look at the impact Bank of Ann Arbor has made in appealing to its very local client base.

The bank has developed an ongoing radio ad campaign through a strong partnership with Ann Arbor radio stations Ann Arbor’s 107one fm and W4 Country that features a “typical” Ann Arbor banker, not from Bank of Ann Arbor, being tested on Ann Arbor businesses and landmarks:

“What is the Earl? The Old West Side? Kerrytown? The Ferry Doors?”

(Click here to hear the commercial in its entirety)

The businesses and places mentioned should be familiar to Ann Arbor residents, but not obvious to those outside of the city. As can be expected, the “other” banker fails miserably on his Ann Arbor exam, but manages to provide comical responses to each of the questions, giving the ad a lighthearted edge. The narrator concludes that:

At Bank of Ann Arbor, helping the people, business and community of Ann Arbor is what we do.

The message is powerful, and the commercial succeeds not only by clearly demonstrating Bank of Ann Arbor’s commitment to its unique customer base, but by the interactive nature of the ad itself. As an Ann Arbor resident, I found myself competing along with the “other” banker, testing my local knowledge.

Because this is an ad campaign, the bank intermittently releases a new commercial following the same format, but with new content. I can tell you that, personally, I’ve never changed the station when a Bank of Ann Arbor commercial comes on. A commercial that makes people actually want to listen to it AND remember the sponsoring organization? Now that’s a home run.

I wish I had numbers to quantify new business and continued loyalty from existing customers, but since I’m not affiliated with the organization, I do not. I do, however, have a very strong sentiment toward the bank, and without ever having worked with them previously, a strong sense of trust. If that isn’t value, I don’t know what is.

So, before you make excuses for not having the time to jump into your client’s local, keep this example in mind. And remember, “going local” can mean “going big.”