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Fall Back Into Your Utility’s Normal Autumn PR Routine

image credit: Photo 165678646 / Autumn © Volodymyr Pishchanyi | Dreamstime.com
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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  • Aug 26, 2022
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The mercury is still above 90 degrees in many places, and while some students are just starting school, many more (and their parents) are out trying to enjoy the last few days of summer.

Although fall doesn’t technically arrive until Sept. 22, now’s the time to start getting back into your regular public relations patterns. While COVID is still with us, conditions today feel more like they were pre-pandemic than at any point since March 2020.

Therefore, your utility should have an active, engaged public relations plan ready to go.

If you’re publicly owned, the usual earnings reports and other announcements are the same as always.

Now’s also a good time to spruce up and send out your regular evergreen notices, such as being cautious while trimming trees and shrubs around powerlines or calling before digging.

Meantime, you may well be sponsoring or hosting events. As always, use the opportunity to promote them, particularly on social media.

Let the public know about any regular news you might have, whether it’s construction/maintenance, a key hiring or the acquisition of a smaller utility.

And feel free to pitch any trend or lifestyle story you feel is appropriate. Let the world know about any interesting employees you have or any trend you might be observing. Be creative in your pitches, pushing the envelope just a bit. Remember that “dog bites man” isn’t news, but “man bites dog” just might be. Look for ways to make your pitch stand out.

Remember the little things, too, to increase your odds of success.

How well do you know your key media outlets? Journalists move around often, and the industry’s perilous state is only making matters worse. Are your media lists updated? If you have interns coming aboard this fall, have them update those lists.

There will be a lot more competition looking for media coverage since other companies and organizations will be following this game plan; make your pitches count.

When you do pitch the media, remember to make it easy for reporters and editors. Pitch well in advance unless it’s truly breaking news. Provide ample background information, as well as illustrative materials including photos and video. When it comes to scheduling things, consider the timing. For TV, the best times are 10-11 a.m., 1-2 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. – before or after newscasts. For print, the earlier the better as, by later afternoon, reporters are writing their stories.

Finally, be realistic about your expectations. News outlets think about what is most likely to interest their audience. While your hiring of a new operations manager might be exciting to you, John Q. Public won’t care.

As an editor, when I consider a pitch, aside from my own interest (or lack thereof) in an idea, I ask myself if my 80-something parents, my 50ish sister with two tweens and my 22-year-old son would care about the story. If none of them would be interested, I likely reject the idea.

Ask yourself a similar question before you make a pitch.

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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