Telling a Local Story

Recognizing Good Work—Woodlands Bank employees and local nonprofit leaders recognize and celebrate the impact of the bank’s #GoLocal community service campaign that provided meals, clothing and shelter to various families in need.

Recognizing Good Work—Woodlands Bank employees and local nonprofit leaders recognize and celebrate the impact of the bank’s #GoLocal community service campaign that provided meals, clothing and shelter to various families in need.

Woodlands Bank prompts greater awareness to give and get active locally

By Kelly Pike

National Award Recipient
Woodlands Bank – Williamsport, Pa.
Service Program: Get Local, Give Local and Go Local Campaign
Bank Website: www.woodlandsbank.com


When Woodlands Bank in Williamsport, Pa., decided to tell its story to its community, it knew it needed more than a marketing campaign, it needed a movement. The bank wanted to create an awareness of its more than 25 years of community impact—and encourage a following to join it.

The idea was the $390 million-asset bank’s #GoLocal campaign, a three-month push across social and traditional media and an in-bank promotion asking Lycoming and Clinton counties to Get Local, Give Local and Go Local by supporting area businesses and nonprofits—earning Woodlands Bank recognition in the process as a 2016 ICBA National Community Bank Service Award recipient.

“We wanted to tell our story and showcase what we really are—a collection of relationships garnered over the years that have flourished,” says Jon P. Conklin, Woodlands Bank’s president and CEO.

Inspired by the many go local movements across other industries, the bank wanted to encourage its community to join a full-circle movement with local businesses, nonprofits and, of course, Woodlands Bank—with hopes to strengthen and enhance the local economy of the Williamsport area. Money spent locally, stays local, creating jobs and opportunities, Conklin points out.

Telling Your Story
Marketing Manager LeeAnn Gephart with Woodlands Bank in Williamsport, Pa., offers these tips for promoting local businesses, banking and nonprofit organizations.

  • Define your story. A community bank is an accumulation of many different stories developed over years of relationships with many different customers and your unique community. Sharing those stories is sharing your own.
  • Giving back takes many forms. Empowering individuals to direct your bank’s charitable giving helps raise awareness—and also makes customers feel as though they are pitching in.
  • Be true to your bank’s identity. People know if you aren’t authentic. Woodlands Bank has been an active part of the community for years. Many people were excited the bank was finally talking about its efforts.

Hands-on Help—More than 15 employees at Woodlands Bank spent a day at a local Habitat for Humanity construction project. Working alongside professional builders, the employees tackled various construction tasks, including roofing and siding. The workers at right are Tom Burkholder (sawing) and Jane Karney of Woodlands Bank.

Hands-on Help—More than 15 employees at Woodlands Bank spent a day at a local Habitat for Humanity construction project. Working alongside professional builders, the employees tackled various construction tasks, including roofing and siding. The workers at right are Tom Burkholder (sawing) and Jane Karney of Woodlands Bank.

On the nonprofit front, Woodlands Bank identified four local nonprofit pillars of the community shelter, food, youth development and clothing—and gave local residents unconventional ways to donate to the four hometown charities. Those customers who opened a new account could direct one donation: 20 meals to a local food bank; one night of care, food and shelter for a displaced family of four; one interview-ready business outfit; or eight hours of extracurricular activity for a child. These choices showed the real-world impact their donations would have on neighbors in need.

Woodlands Bank also included its Facebook followers, by allowing them to contribute donations by liking and sharing posts on the bank’s Facebook page, as the inaugural launch occurred in unison with the campaign, using traditional media to promote a following via radio, billboard and newspaper ads as well as in branches. The bank garnered more than 750 followers, and each post reached 2,500 to 5,000 engaged users, says LeeAnn Gephart, the bank’s marketing manager.

During the campaign, which ran from April to June, the bank donated more than 9,500 meals, 100 nights of shelter, 90 outfits and 1,000 hours of activities. Bank employees also volunteered with a Habitat for Humanity build and helped pack senior boxes at the food bank.

Just as important as the financial value of the donation was the attention, says Jamie Caputo, development and community relations director–Northern Tier, for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

“Having a bank come alongside us like Woodlands that supports us—as well as other local organizations—to bring awareness to our mission is absolutely fantastic,” says Caputo. “They are folks who are truly invested in making the community better.”

Woodlands Bank also saw success on the small-business side, giving visibility to 45 local small-business customers. From local restaurants and an arts center to a florist and a stationary shop, participating organizations put #GoLocal stickers in their windows and became part of the conversation as the bank gave away gift cards to businesses via Facebook.

“We took a content marketing approach, telling the story of our bank, local merchants, and nonprofits in the community. By making it relevant to all members of our community and customer base we are showing who we are—a local, authentic community bank keeping the community top-of-mind,” says Gephart, who used a combination of nontraditional and traditional media to help spread word of the campaign.

For instance, a post with a giveaway for Acme BBQ was linked to National No Dirty Dishes Day. A post mentioning Lucky Penny Day had a giveaway for Early Bird Carwash. Woodlands Bank also “sweetened” its campaign, rewarding customers seen on the town with one of the bank’s surprisingly in-demand #GoLocal car magnets with a gift card to a local ice cream shop.

“It’s what we’ve always done; it was just a matter of showcasing it,” says Conklin. “It doesn’t end at the end of three months. We’re going to continue to do what we’ve always done and be involved. It’s who we are.”


Kelly Pike is a freelance writer in Annandale, Va.

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