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Thanking Your Peers

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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
  • 1,003 items added with 507,057 views
  • Jun 11, 2020
  • 735 views

I live just outside Philadelphia, and the other day a derecho hit.

For those who don’t know (and prior to June 3, that included me), a derecho is a “a line of intense, widespread, and fast-moving windstorms and sometimes thunderstorms that moves across a great distance and is characterized by damaging winds,” according to Oxford Languages.

Those winds of up to 80 miles did a number in the heavily wooded suburbs, knocking down massive 300-year-old trees and branches galore, leading to widespread power outages.

In the days that followed, local utility PECO was hard at work restoring power, but utilities from numerous other areas also answered the call for help. Just walking around my little town in recent days, I’ve seen multiple trucks from Indiana and Tennessee; surely dozens of other utilities are assisting in other parts of the area.

Unfortunately, I’ve also seen annoyed residents upset that their power wasn’t restored quickly enough for their liking. While I haven’t seen anyone say anything to the crews – who look exhausted – I have seen some scornful looks.

That’s why when any area gets battered by bad weather, prompting the local utility to call for reinforcements, it’s imperative that the “host” be effusive in praising the help coming from afar.

Note: I’m not saying utilities don’t already do this, but it’s a reminder to heap on the praise so the public at large knows just how big a sacrifice the other utilities are making to help.

That’s especially true these days, with the country reeling from the pandemic and the recent protests/riots/looting. People are on edge, so some positive news is certainly in order.

So send out press releases thanking the help. Tout it on your social media and mention it on your website. And say it repeatedly

Given that the summer doldrums are beginning for news outlets (coronavirus fatigue is real and the protests will gradually taper off), praising brethren that come to your aid is a win-win.

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Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on Jun 12, 2020

It's really too bad people take the luxury of reliable electricity for granted. When bad weather takes it away from them, the public often acts as if the utility is to blame. All that being said, I really don't see a PR blitz such as the one you described helping much...because practically nobody pays attention to emails and press releases put out by utilities. 

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Andy Gotlieb on Jun 12, 2020

I'd beg to differ a bit about the value of a PR blitz. Generic emails and press releases put out by any organization get deleted quickly if they're about routine things. But when there's widespread damage after a weather event, the media does tend to pay more attention. Granted, a utility won't get tons of coverage, but it's good to have that information out in cyberspace at the very least.

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