Your Utility’s PR Team Needs to Practice Blocking and Tackling
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- Oct 10, 2019 11:18 pm GMT
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Spending two days in the hospital dealing with kidney stones is a great way to focus your mind (in between bouts of writhing pain) on what’s really important in all aspects of life.
When it comes down to it, most things, including public relations, are tied to the basics – such as the blocking and tackling football nomenclature in the headline.
Yes, PR tactics and tools change over time -- who in 2005 aside from maybe Mark Zuckerberg believed social media would become a behemoth? – but the overriding goal is the same now as it was 100 years ago. And that goal is to present a clear, consistent and believable message that supports the image your utility aims to project.
How do you accomplish that?
Make the public know your name. As a utility, you don’t have a flashy brand, so showcase your reliability, your goal to always improve your service and your role as a community leader.
That can be accomplished with a well-planned media campaign that mixes consumer information, investor information (if you’re publicly traded), education, timely responses to flashpoints and even a little levity, when warranted.
Be timely and don’t let anything potentially fester. It’s best to get any bad or unfortunate news out in the open as soon as possible; take your medicine and move on.
Don’t make enemies with either the public or the media.
Monitor your social media and work to tamp down complaints from the public as quickly as possible. Try to take difficult customers offline and see if a solution is possible (there isn’t always one).
By the same token, respond to positive feedback and acknowledge kind words.
As for the media, work with it. Accommodation can go a long way and the negative reputation the media hasn’t largely is not deserved. If you’re running a clean ship, you have nothing to fear.
Some 300 words after I started writing this, I realized that a lot of what I’m saying is akin to “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the seminal book Dale Carnegie published in 1936. Some 83 years later, his words still ring true.