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Getting to Know You: How Well Do You Really Know 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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  • Mar 8, 2022
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When it comes to promoting your utility, it’s fair to say you know all the pertinent details,

From the basic history of the utility to the number of customers to the names of key executives to momentous past events, all of that information is burned into your memory bank.

That’s all well and good, but how well do you know the minute details, not to mention the interesting things the utility and your employees hold?

And why is that important?

Remember that the definition of news is that it’s something that doesn’t happen every day. And that means if you want to get your utility into the news, you have to stand out.

You can do that by offering information that the public needs to know or you can find out interesting information that will capture someone’s attention. News outlets have a constant need for content, so human interest stories often play well.

That means your PR practitioners should get to know as many people at the utility as possible. By doing so, those employees become the eyes and ears for you.

Considering that so many of us have worked remotely for the past two years, it’s not a bad thing to get out and about and talk to everyone as more people resume working in the office. (Yes, I realize that some people are still working remotely and will continue to do so, so work around that).

When you go talk to co-workers, don’t stick to just utility business. Listen to their stories both about their personal lives and what they do at the utility.

Most of what you hear won’t be pertinent, but you never know when you might find a gem.

When I was a city hall reporter in a small town, I’d spend time each day going from department to department, chatting with secretaries and department heads alike. I might hear about their pets, their kids, their vacations – and the budget shortfall nobody was talking away.

For your purposes, maybe you learn that an employee is the fourth generation in his family to work for the utility. Or that one of your accountants played bass in an early version of Def Leppard. Or that Frank Lloyd Wright designed your old power plant while using a pseudonym.

Human interest stories about your utility can draw the attention of the media. They may not advance your utility’s messaging, but getting your name in the news, especially for something positive, is always worthwhile.

And aside from human interest ideas, you might find out something interesting that could be worth a story. C-level executives often have no idea what is news. Here’s a way to impress those execs with your creativity.

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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