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Pursuing Trivia: Knowing Your Utility at the Next Level

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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
  • 1,055 items added with 555,611 views
  • Mar 23, 2023

Someone whose path has crossed mine a couple of times in recent years is the current champion on “Jeopardy.” Considering that she’s a college professor, it’s not surprising that she’s done well on a show that measures one’s breadth of knowledge, not to mention a fair dose of trivia.

I’m a trivia buff myself, and I’ve taken advantage of that in my careers in both journalism and public relations.

So should the members of your utility’s public relations team.

Your team can certainly recite the key details about your utility without stopping to think. That’s great, but how well do they actually know what’s going on?

While there’s no way to know everything there is to know about the utility, there probably is plenty that you can still learn. As a PR practitioner, your job should include getting to know as many of your coworkers as you can to get a true feel for things.

Good journalists and PR folks alike know that talking to people is how you find the real stories – the ones that don’t germinate from a slick press release. I’ve been a city hall reporter a couple of times, and I scrounged up plenty of stories just by hanging out in various department offices, talking to the secretaries and anyone else who stopped by.

In other words, allow your peers to be your eyes and ears (rhyme intended).

Get out of your PR department office and wander around, striking up conversations where possible. You don’t even have to stick to talking about the utility. Learn their stories and what interests them.

Most of what you learn will be irrelevant, but that’s OK. You never know what little tidbit might be valuable.

Maybe that secretary who’s been there for 25 years is Beyonce’s aunt. Perhaps one of your linemen is a fifth-generation company employee. Or that middle manager is the top-ranked pinball player in North America.

No, these aren’t stories that advance the utility’s mission, but they might warrant media attention. And getting the utility’s name into the news for a positive reason is important in terms of image building.

Make sure to ask employees about their jobs, too. Sometimes you’ll learn interesting nuggets of information that turn out to be newsworthy (believe me, your C-level execs who guide your media plan probably wouldn’t know a good story if it bit them in the posterior).

Knowledge is power, whether it’s boilerplate facts, trivia or anything in between. All of your utility’s PR staff should keep that in mind.


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Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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