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Add a Glossary to Your Utility Press Kits and Website

image credit: Photo 120443283 © Artur Szczybylo |
Andy Gotlieb's picture
Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner, Freelancer

I hold 35 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too.  The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various...

  • Member since 2016
  • 1,078 items added with 580,244 views
  • Sep 8, 2023

Words mean a lot in my business as a journalist, and perhaps I’m overly persnickety (speaking of words) when it comes to them.

So, it can be frustrating when someone complains about an op-ed (an opinion piece clearly labeled as opinion), calls it an article and assumes that it’s supposed to be impartial.

But that’s my burden to bear, not yours, and every field has a significant amount of jargon associated with it. That includes your utility.

And when it’s your turn to communicate with the public (and that includes the media), there’s a good chance you’re going to confuse them with terminology that, while it might be second nature to you, the average person on the street won’t understand.

Capacity benefit management, locational market pricing and peak shaving are three examples of jargon that some customers might be able to figure out, but the majority won’t (or won’t care).

I’ve mentioned before that your utility’s communications to the public should be as free from industry jargon as possible; and whenever a utility representative speaks to the press, they must do so in terms that everyone understands.

When I worked in public relations, I often enlisted a family member to read press releases I wrote to see if they were confused by any of the lingo. If a casual reader is confused, there’s a high probability a reporter or editor will be, too.

There are times, however, when you need to use industry lingo, so you ought to be prepared.

Do this by adding a glossary of commonly used terms to your utility’s press kit. You’ll prevent reporters from Googling unfamiliar terms and possibly coming up with misleading or inaccurate information. As you know, the internet is fraught with peril when it comes to information.

The glossary doesn’t need to be extensive (two pages is probably plenty). But highlight important concepts that explain how you conduct routine business and how electricity is produced, stored, transferred and delivered. Keep each definition to a sentence or two, as anything longer will increase the risk of you being tuned out.

Also place the glossary on your website, likely at a location that features other educational and explanatory information.

Media comprehension goes a long way toward your utility achieving its public relations goals – getting accurate, informative and timely material out to the world. A glossary is an easy way to help you achieve that.


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Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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