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Your Utility’s Routine Maintenance May Not Be So Routine to the Media

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Managing Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner Freelancer

I hold 32 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
  • 941 items added with 430,679 views
  • May 24, 2018 5:40 pm GMT

This item is part of the Special Issue - 2018-05 - Customer Care, click here for more

Your idea of what constitutes a good news story may be quite different than what journalists think.

By definition, news is something that doesn’t happen every day — and also is something likely to appeal to a large percentage of a media outlet’s followers.

That’s why the media likely won’t care when your executive wins an industry award; unless it’s a trade publication, the average reader/viewer/listener isn’t going to be interested.

It’s also why when something you consider run-of-the-mill unexpectedly earns a lot of coverage.

Case in point: The routine maintenance your utility does, whether it’s swapping out utility poles, trimming trees, digging up streets to replace lines or any of the other myriad of tasks your crews do.

So, why would the media be interested? There are a few reasons.

First, the visuals are good. Lots of potential stories can’t be illustrated well, but bucket cranes, workers on utility poles and spools of wire, even traffic cones, among other things, add a strong visual element.

Second, there’s a public curiosity factor. People see your crews at work, wonder what’s going on and can relate to it as well — “Oh, that’s why they’re digging up the road” or “That’s cool how they plant a utility pole in the ground right next to the old, broken pole.”

Third, it’s a slow news day. Ever wonder why something that seems trivial is receiving news coverage? Well, there is always space and time to fill. That’s why you never see the news anchors sitting there saying “We have nothing else to report” and it’s why there are never blank pages in a newspaper or a magazine.

Those slow news days occur more than you might think, especially in the summer months ahead, so be sure to have plenty of maintenance-related pitches ready at all times. You likely won’t get coverage the day you pitch your story, but all media outlets keep lists of potential backup stories.

Of course, on the day that a media member does come calling, do everything to accommodate them and prep your maintenance crew so it knows to put on a little show, keeping safety and best practice concerns in mind.

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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