Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A PR Plan: Celebrating Financial Literacy Successes Through Virginia Media

When Gov. Tim Kaine signed into law the new Virginia high school graduation requirement of one credit in economics and personal finance, it was cause for celebration for Virginia CPAs. Here at the VSCPA, it marked a major victory six years in the making; for the past several years, the requirement was so important that it was on the VSCPA's legislative agenda.

We began talking about ways to get this exciting news out to the public. During a recession, we felt it was more important than ever that parents knew their children would be required to learn valuable money management skills before graduating from high school.

We also wanted to get the word out about the tremendous member support we had for this issue. During the Virginia Board of Education's comment period for the new requirement in 2008, 329 comments were submitted — primarily from VSCPA members and members of the
Virginia Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy (a group spearheaded by the VSCPA in 2005). The Virginia CPA community spoke, and the VBOE listened. The VBOE indicated the comments were a key factor in their decision to incorporate the course into graduation requirements.

VSCPA Vice-President of Member & Public Relations Tina Lambert, CAE, was the perfect voice for this issue. She is currently on the Virginia Jump$tart Board of Directors and served as its chair from 2005– 2008.

We sent an opinion/editorial piece written by Tina, "Teaching Virginia's Children Some Cents," to several media outlets, and were thrilled that it was run in the
Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce's e-newsletter, as well as a national e-newsletter from WebCPA.

So when an article in the
Richmond Times-Dispatch on December 10, 2009, "Mandatory Course Raises Concerns," brought some school teachers' and administrators' problems with the requirement to light, we were prepared. We immediately sent a letter to the editor of the Times-Dispatch, e-mails to the article's reporters and editors and requests for space to send in our op/ed. We were excited when the editor upgraded our letter to an op/ed. With a few tweaks to our original commentary, our response to the Times-Dispatch was off and printed December 18.

Ensuring we are an advocate for the financial literacy of all Virginians remains a major priority for the VSCPA, and we will continue to spread this message to the media. It's just one of the ways we advocate for our CPA members and the issues they care about most.

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