Hello, My Name is ______
How well do you really know all the employees at your utility (and thus the utility itself)?
Sure, there’s no possible way to know everyone well, let alone know everyone depending upon the size of the operation. But as a public relations practitioner at your utility, part of your job should be getting to know as many people as possible.
For you to get the word out about your utility, you need to know what’s going on. In reality, it’s impossible to comprehensively know everything that’s happening, but your goal should be to get a handle on as much as possible.
To do that, let the other employees be your eyes and ears.
Journalists get stories by talking to as many people as possible. On two different occasions as a reporter, I covered a small-town city government. I made it a point every day to visit city hall and wander around, talking to as many employees and town residents as I could. Just by sitting in the city manager’s or mayor’s office, a steady stream of people came by.
Sure, much of what I heard and talked about ended up being irrelevant, but get people talking about their jobs and personal lives and interesting things are revealed.
I never knew when a story would arise – and you’ll never know when you learn something that might be worth pitching to a journalist.
Of course, you’re already going to know about the major initiatives at your utility, so try to go beyond that.
Maybe you find out a lineman is a fourth-generation employee and his great-grandfather used to be on a crew that made repairs via a Model T. That’s a pretty good human interest story the media might want to cover, especially if the employee is willing to share old photos.
Maybe that normally gruff accountant has a secret life and plays standup bass in the town’s most popular jazz trio.
Or perhaps one of your engineers has developed a money-saving technique that is being adopted at utilities across the country.
Again, the media might be interested, whether it a music publication or the local newspaper for the accountant example, or a trade publication for the engineer’s technique.
The point is that one part of any public relations job is to draw positive attention to the organization in question. By getting to know your fellow employees, you’ll have much more fodder to work with when it comes to pitching the media.
And who knows — you may make a few new friends in the process.
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