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Possible Story Pitches About Your Utility Are All Around You – Just Look

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Andy Gotlieb's picture
Managing Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner Freelancer

I hold 33 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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  • Oct 4, 2021
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If your utility is like most large businesses, your public relations team has a set calendar with story ideas (and when to pitch them), not to mention general talking points to promote.

Some of those things are evergreen topics, such as summer and winter energy conservation or taking care when digging or when trimming shrubs near power lines. And others are the usual fare – earnings reports if you’re a public company, news about key hires, updates on weather events and so on.

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All standard operating procedure – and that’s fine. But it’s also kind of boring.

Sure, you might get some coverage, but journalists receive rote pitches constantly and are always looking for something fresh.

And so should you.

Good journalists know how to come up with stories (some interesting, some not) by talking to a lot of people.

I’ve mentioned before how when I covered city government in small towns, I used to spend a couple of hours there each day, just talking to people. Whether it was department heads, secretaries or plain old rank-and-file workers. I tried to talk to as many people as possible. I asked to visit city operations, too, for added perspective.

And while I heard plenty of tales about their kids graduating high school, their parents’ latest medical ailments or the gossip about who was fooling around with who, I found out plenty of story-worthy things, too.

What does this mean for your utility?

Well, maybe members of your utility’s PR department should occasionally do the equivalent of my newsgathering tactic.

That means get to know all facets of the utility. Yes, you’ll still have to promote what the C-level wants you to promote. But go visit all the other departments and also spend time with employees in the field. Maybe there are training sessions you can observe.

You may hear interesting things about both the utility and your employees worthy of a story pitch.

If you find something interesting, there’s a decent chance a media member might do so, too. Remember that “dog bites man” isn’t a story, but “man bites dog” might be.

Should you find something interesting, pitch away, following the usual guidelines for making life easy for journalists.

Even if you don’t come up with too many good story ideas, your time certainly wasn’t wasted since you’ll do a better job of promoting the utility simply because you understand it better.

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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