Customer Care Professionals Group

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

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Getting Bits of Coverage for Your Utility

Every public relations person dreams of securing a major media placement for their client. After all, what utility wouldn’t want a glowing front-page story on the cover of The New York Times or a segment on the network news?

Reaching for the stars is always admirable, but those kinds of placement come along infrequently, if at all. That’s why you need to target your local media and trade publications for more regular coverage.

And you can supplement that with bits of other coverage. Don’t overlook community weekly newspapers, radio station and cable channels as outlets.

Meantime, you can target all outlets with items that aren’t likely to get significant coverage, but any positive mentions are useful.

For example, personnel announcements, notifications about awards and honors and other routine events can land you coverage.

Although some newspapers, such as business journals, are now charging for personnel announcements, most still accept — and will publish/air them. While you’d want to compile a full news release for a new CEO, scale back for less-important, but still significant positions, such as managers and team leaders.

Write four or five (at most) paragraphs about the new hire or promoted employee, sticking to the basics and avoiding vapid quotes. Include a high-resolution “mug shot” photograph.

Follow the same drill for awards, honors and professional recognition your employees receive, although you need to be a bit judicious with your releases. If you submit 20 releases a week, nobody is going to pay attention, but a few releases a couple times per month is acceptable.

And don’t forget to publicize all the other things your utility does. For example, if employees participate in a career day at a suburban high school in your service area, send some photos and a short write-up to the local weekly newspaper or community website. Chances are good they’ll publish those photos.

Remember that a successful public relations program for your utility involves constantly receiving favorable publicity (and minimizing negative coverage, although that’s a topic for another day). It’s great when you get those big media hits, but the smaller positive mentions add up, too.

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