This special interest group is where customer care professionals share tactics on how utilities are improving interactions with their customers. 


Your Utility Shouldn’t Pitch These Story Ideas

image credit: ID 80315842 © Rawpixelimages |
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
  • 1,030 items added with 533,051 views
  • Nov 30, 2021

I’ve written often about the kinds of things utilities should be pitching to increase the odds of getting coverage.

It’s just as important, though, to know what not to pitch.

Journalists receive a deluge of story pitches every week and reject most of them by the time they get to the second sentence. That goes double for anyone who is constantly pitching bad ideas; those emails aren’t even likely to be opened before they’re trashed.

Remember that I’m mainly talking about mass media here. The standards are different for industry publications, which might be interested in the day-to-day happenings at – but it shouldn’t be.

For starters, personnel news is often the bread-and-butter of pitching. But unless your CEO or chairman is retiring or a successor is being named, nobody is going to care too much about other hires. It may be a big deal internally when your utility hires that new CFO who’s getting noticed in the industry, but if that that person didn’t already have a significant public presence, journalists aren’t going to pay attention.

Almost as popular in the bad pitching department is the notice about some award. Unless one of your scientists wins a Nobel Prize in physics or chemistry, reporters are going to yawn.

Even worse is when you pitch an honor or award your utility has received from another media outlet; most of those awards are contrived and the judging is, at best, suspect. I used to judge a “40 Under 40” contest for a business newspaper and much of the time, we were just trying to spread the awards around to best reflect society.

Besides, promoting those awards often comes across as a slap in the face to the publication. Would Coke promote Pepsi?

Also on the bad ideas lists are those pitches that tout small donations or routine community service projects. Again, consider scale. If your utility donates $2 million to build a new shelter for battered women, that’s one thing. Giving the local Little League $1,000 is something else.

Here’s a simple way to think about it: If your pitch is merely the utility patting itself on its back, your chances of coverage are minimal

As always, the general media seeks items that will interest a chunk of its readership/viewership/listenership. Reporters don’t care about making you look good, so your job is to find the intersection of what will interest the public that puts your utility in a good light.


No discussions yet. Start a discussion below.

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »