MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala.-Looking to spice up its youth outreach, Listerhill CU here has launched a new monthly magazine-a medium "so old that it's cool again."

That's the word from Kristen Mashburn, marketing director at the 71,000-member, $576-million CU, who explained that the publication, known as SET, seeks to serve two purposes: reach an audience that isn't being catered to, and provide a venue to promote the credit union.

"We wanted to do something big and impactful that really cuts through the clutter," said Mashburn. "We believe we're not just competing with other FIs, we're competing for young people's attention. We're trying to get their attention with something that's different and has a unique feel to it."

SET will be published monthly with a circulation of 10,000 issues, and will be available for free throughout the community. Listerhill will be the only advertiser in the magazine, and about 20% of the content will be advertisements for Listerhill products and services, with another 10% focused on financial education. An additional 10% will also be dedicated to promoting Listerhill contests to increase youth participation at the CU.

The cover story for the debut issue is what Mashburn termed "The Aporkaylpse"-the possibility of a bacon shortage within the next year.

"When we talk to young people about the magazine, we tell them about the hard-hitting issues they really want to hear about-like where is bacon going to be next year," she said. "We're saying that tongue-in-cheek, but it's things that young people would appreciate knowing about."

The publication is targeted at consumers from age 15 to their mid-twenties, and Mashburn said those behind SET have also made efforts to make it hyper-local by focusing on local events, places, people and trends. While SET will advertise a variety of CU products, the main goal is to boost participation in The Hill, the credit union's checking account for young members.

Mashburn said Listerhill made the move to launch its own youth marketing effort after previously participating in the Young & Free program, which made it feel constrained.

The magazine will be written entirely by young people, and its content will also be available online at, along with additional content.

"We're using a strategy where the magazine is just everywhere they are-in the coffee shop or at the university, it's just there," said Mashburn. "We've really been very pleased about how quickly it's been picked up, and when you walk around campus you see people holding it."

But with print magazines such as Newsweek ceasing publication and publishing online only, why start a new magazine?

"We think the fact that there are less magazines means less competition for us," said Mashburn.

Mashburn also cited a report from Advertising Age magazine that young people like magazines over other print offerings.

"It's hard for people to associate a credit union with being cool, and there aren't a lot of opportunities in our area for partnerships (that appeal to young people)," she said. "If there was already a magazine like this it would've been a different situation for us. We didn't want to use the local newspaper, and even a lot of the local radio stations aren't geared toward young people. We needed this medium."




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See also: " Seeks To Boost Awareness," Jan. 2



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