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Does Your Utility Need Variable PR Plans for 2021?

image credit: ID 155321933 © Pogonici |
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 580,102 views
  • Dec 14, 2020

Although 2020 is going to go down as one of the worst years in history, it seems as if there’s light at the end of the tunnel in the form of COVID-19 vaccines.

Even if the vaccines prove effective and if distribution goes smoothly (two big ifs), it’s going to be a while before things fully get back to normal. Still, by the latter half of 2021, life as we used to know it may well begin again.

What does that mean for your utility and its public relations plans?

Perhaps you need a plan with two variations – one for a year where things gradually return to normal and a second where things remain mostly restricted. This may sound like a lot of extra work, but ideally it won’t be.

In reality, some of your plans aren’t affected by the pandemic.  You likely have a schedule of evergreen news releases you put out every year – be careful when digging each spring or be careful when trimming trees in the fall, for example – that can go out as scheduled. The same is true for other reminders sprinkled through the year.

As for events, you might want to tentatively pencil them into your calendar for the latter part of the year, but retain the option of going virtual. It seems safe to assume that virtual events will continue to hold sway through the first part of spring.

It might just be better to assume any events through June will be virtual in nature, although you can always scramble to make them live if conditions improve more rapidly than expected.

Once conditions do improve significantly, in-person events may be more well-received than normal, so plan for that contingency.

When it comes to breaking news, both positive and negative, there’s no planning for that.

As for your social media posts and website, it should be business as usual. In fact, a heavier dose of social media than normal might be judicious considering the scarcity of regular events.

In any case, an ongoing pandemic (whether full-throated or gradually diminishing) is no excuse to not maintain a full public relations agenda. That’s especially true since negative publicity is likely to surface when all those pandemic-deferred consumer payments come due or the media increases its focus on a perceived lack of clean energy, wildfires possibly started by utility equipment or outage response not deemed fast enough, among other things.


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Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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