In discussing the strategic goals of NRMLA, President Peter Bell laid out the objectives related to the organizations "Public Affairs Campaign." Noting challenges with a direct advertising campaign, Bell said the organization has focused on addressing media attention on reverse mortgages seeking to shape public opinion through how the media covers the industry.
Much of the work that is conducted by NRMLA happens behind the scenes. Bell stated that the organization has a dedicated out reach campaign that works with media outlets and reporters on national, regional and local levels to encourage accurate and positive reporting on the reverse mortgage industry. Additionally, he said, NRMLA monitors all coverage of reverse mortgages in the media and has an aggressive mechanism to quickly respond to inaccurate or negative reports in the media. He noted that the results are not always apparent or immediate, but that NRMLA is very diligent in responding to the media coverage. Bell said that much of their efforts are on educating outlets and reporters on the elements of reverse mortgages and helping them to understand the importance, and potential damage caused by inaccurate reporting. He indicated that NRMLA believes their are better long term results by working behind the scenes with reporters and becoming a resource to them, rather than outwardly addressing issues with their reporting.
NRMLA also encourages coverage of reverse mortgages by providing interviews with media outlets and supporting coverage of retirement issues related to reverse mortgage. Additionally, the organization submits letters to editors to respond to media coverage and provide additional information. To further this effort, NRMLA will be encouraging CRMP designees to participate by responding to coverage in their areas with their own letters to editors.
Additionally, the public affairs campaign includes a "Road Show" where the industry travels to key geographic areas to meet with local "thought leaders" and senior service providers to discuss retirement/aging issues and how reverse mortgages fit into the discussion. NRMLA has strategically chosen the cities it visits especially as it relates to media coverage in the area, or districts where they are seeking to educate government representatives. The Road Show recently began in San Diego and Los Angeles and will continue in Philadelphia, Boston, Austin, St Louis, Atlanta, New Orleans. It will continue to expand as the effort develops.
Moving to a more proactive mode, rather than just reactive, NRMLA is working the Boston Center of Retirement Research to host a symposium in Washington D.C. regarding "funding longevity." Realizing that older Americans are living longer in retirement than at any other age in history, the symposium seeks to carefully examine these issues and how reverse mortgages will have to play an integral role in providing funding in later years. The symposium will take place this summer.
Bell also suggested that the industry does need some form of paid advertising campaign to help spread key messages regarding reverse mortgages. Although managing media coverage and reacting to reports is vastly important, he said, that alone will not provide all the public information that NRMLA would like to see presented. To that end, he suggested that NRMLA will have to look at additional funding mechanisms to initiate and maintain a national and local advertising campaign to support the industry.