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Are You Still Promoting Your Utility’s Good Works?

image credit: ID 65234933 © Kamachi209 |
Andy Gotlieb's picture
Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner Freelancer

I hold 34 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
  • 1,004 items added with 507,884 views
  • Apr 23, 2020

If you’re like many utilities, you’ve discontinued shutoffs for delinquent clients and have established some sort of deferred payment program for customers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Maybe you’ve offered other goodwill gestures as well.

The question is, are you promoting your good deeds?

Yes, those programs are the right thing to do in these strange times, but you may as well get some positive publicity from it, too.

Not that the media’s likely to report on it now, considering all the assistance programs in place for struggling people, but you should at least make an effort. You never know when someone might pick it up and cover it.

More importantly, you should use your own channels – website and social media – to mention the good work that you’re doing. When you control channels, you control the message.

Don’t be smug in your posts or part yourself on the back. Instead, talk about how getting through the pandemic is a community effort and how your utility wants to do its part. In general, your focus should be on the painstaking efforts your team is making to help the public, both as it relates to the pandemic and in general, in terms of safety and general wellbeing.

We hear a lot about the “health care heroes” and the sacrifices they’re making – and that praise is merited. But keeping the lights on is important, too, and your field workers and others are making sacrifices, too.

Perhaps profiles of “utility heroes” are something you can add to your website and social media. Interview employees (remotely!) and ask them how their day-to-day work contributes to the community. You might be surprised by the poignant stories you hear.

Look for the feel-good angles that humanize your company. One drawback utilities have is that there typically isn’t a “face” to the company or a signature product the public associates with you. Profiles can help add a personal touch.

As always, in any promotional materials, include links for more information, especially phone numbers. You’d be surprised how difficult it can be to find a phone number for businesses of all stripes.

Most of all, keep up the good deeds, and look for other ways to help the community.

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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Karen Marcus's picture
Karen Marcus on Apr 30, 2020

Good advice, Andy. While self-promotion may not be top-of-mind for many utilities, it's worthwhile for now to boost their image and maintain customer confidence - and for later when they can use the promotional content again in other (hopefully less dire) contexts.  

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