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Back to the Future at Your Utility

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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
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  • Feb 21, 2022
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When you have no breaking news to dispense and your well of story ideas for pitching the media starts to dry up, always remember that you can pitch your utility’s future.

Considering how much uncertainty there is in the world today and the fact that the pandemic has changed multiple aspects of life on planet Earth, people are wondering what might lie ahead.

You just might be able to convince a reporter to take a look at how things may change at your utility come 2030, 2040, 2050 and beyond.

Now, you can’t make this pitch without being prepared. Sure, there’s going to be some guesswork involved, but your utility must already have some idea of what the future will look like.

It’s likely your utility has a master plan that incorporates future changes. Lean heavily on that.

Next, visit your utility’s various departments and conduct research. Various team members will provide their expertise on specific parts of the utility, including things you might not have considered.

Asking how power ultimately will be generated should top your list, but you’ll need to check in on grid security, advances in technology, metering, severe weather crisis response, marketing, maintenance, security, wildfire prevention, distribution and anything stemming from the pandemic.

Once you’ve gathered your information, consider your pitch. Remember that this isn’t breaking news, so pick a time when the news cycle seems slow. You might have to make this pitch multiple times, following up with reporters who express interest but wouldn’t or couldn’t commit.

Ideal times to pitch the story are in late August and December when everyone’s on vacation and real news tends to slow. December is especially good because there are lots of stories about the year ahead.

Now actually is a pretty good time to pitch. Before spring arrives, not a lot is happening, especially since COVID-19 news seems to be entering somewhat of a lull, relatively speaking.

When you’re talking to journalists, be sure to note that there’s some degree of speculation involved. While you can be fairly confident about certain things, nobody for sure knows what will happen. Who could have imagined the impact COVID-19 would have if asked in December 2019?

As always, speculating is fine, as are informed projections.

One other thing to consider: Even if everything your utility suggests turns out, years later, to be wrong, who is going to remember? Remember years ago when everyone talked about flying cars? Has yours arrived?

Finally, don’t forget to tout any coverage you have on your website, social media channels and any other options you have for spreading the news.

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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