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What Are Your Utility’s Public Relations Goals in 2023?

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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
  • 1,040 items added with 540,007 views
  • Dec 28, 2022

Ask 10 public relations professionals what their overriding goal is, and the answer typically will be “positive coverage.”

While that’s an obvious (and justifiable) goal, your utility’s thinking about PR should extend far beyond that.

With 2023 beckoning, you need to consider what you actually can accomplish for your utility.

Let’s start with the aforementioned “positive coverage.” By promoting your events, announcements, honors and various good deeds, you can achieve that. That’s all part of PR 101.

But it may be more important to think about the overall message you’re sending. Every utility’s goals will be somewhat different, but there are plenty of universal things. Those might include reminding folks that your utility:

● Is a good community citizen

● Serves as a reliable, trustworthy source of power

● Is technologically up to date and is protected from cyberthreats

● Remains committed to providing green energy

● Offers consumer resources such as educational and energy-saving programs

● Tackles outages vigorously and is proactive when bad weather is expected

● Returns good shareholder value (assuming your utility is publicly traded)

The question is: How do you accomplish all of that?

Getting news coverage is vital, but are you targeting the proper outlets? Many utilities (and businesses of all stripes) distribute press releases through wire services and are delighted to hear that the release was picked up by dozens of outlets.

Beware: It’s likely fool’s gold. Many outlets will “publish” your release, but that typically means it’s getting shunted to a remote website corner with all of the other press releases sent out that day. Consider this: If you’re a utility serving Washington state, how helpful is it if websites in New Mexico, Louisiana, Connecticut, Peru, Nigeria and Mongolia carry that news?

Instead, use targeted media lists that include outlets that cover your service area and have readers/viewers/listeners that might be interested in your news. The local daily newspaper, news radio station and TV outlets are good targets, as are trade publications; the various lifestyle, fashion and music magazines probably are not.

Remember to stay on point in 2023. Choose a few themes, and mention them as often as possible in public information released throughout the year.

As always, repurpose any favorable media coverage received. Post all media hits on your website; consider reprinting the best hits and featuring them as bill inserts. Your social media channels should also promote positive coverage. And hopefully, you’ll receive plenty in 2023.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 28, 2022

2023 is going to be a big year where customers lean into the utility reps more than ever, so I'm eager to hear what people think about these goals

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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