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Showcase Your Utility’s Cool Stuff

image credit: ID 48411132 © Phartisan |

In the summer of 1987 before my senior year of college, I interned in the news department of one of the local TV stations.

Most of my chores were of the go-fer variety, but I did occasionally get to accompany reporters as they worked on their stories.

The first time I did so happened to be the first really hot day of the summer. The assignment was an evergreen: Go talk to the local electric utility about how they’re dealing with increased usage.

The local utility, PECO, took us to its “control room” that monitored electricity usage. The blinking lights, screens and control panels made for a good visual and comprised a large chunk of the news segment.

Why am I telling this mundane story 33 years later?

Because I still remember it – even after writing or assigning thousands of stories ever since.

The point is that good visuals are always key in telling a story – and your utility probably has plenty of things to showcase.

Aside from the aforementioned control room, your methods of generating power likely will draw some interest. Whether it’s a nuclear plant, an old coal-fired plant, a solar farm with rows of panels, wind farms with giant turbines or hydroelectric, there’s visual appeal.

Don’t forget about transmission towers that look like giant robots – what kid hasn’t envisioned that?

Even seemingly routine stuff can look cool to the public at large. How often have crews trimming or removing trees drawn onlookers? Same deal when there’s a down power line?

Especially now, when we’re in the slow part of the summer and there’s a pronounced coronavirus fatigue, news outlets are looking for stories. For example, I need about 12 stories for the next issue of my paper, but at the moment only have a shaky eight.

A well-crafted pitch could easily bear fruit – both now and in the future – especially at smaller outlets. The pandemic has shrunken newsrooms, and those remaining are often desperate for copy. Helping them out has never been easier, especially if you’re well organized and can offer something of value. Just think visually.

Andy Gotlieb's picture

Thank Andy for the Post!

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Eric Van Orden's picture
Eric Van Orden on Aug 3, 2020

Control rooms are cool, as is Xcel Energy's Cabin Creek pumped hydro plant. It as crazy to think about being hundreds of feet under the thousands (maybe millions) of gallons of water in the underground concrete generator room.  

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 4, 2020

I definitely agree-- there is so much at play in the day-to-day of utility work that is truly awe-inspiring. I often think that utilities may need to rethink their branding and PR to emphasize these cool aspects, as Andy calls them, if for no other reason than to use them as a recruiting tool for top talent who are otherwise pulled to the attractive / sexy tech & startup companies instead of what they may think of as 'boring old' utility companies. 

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