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Help the Journalists Covering Your Utility

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It pains me to say it, but journalism is largely in the toilet these days.

Staffs are overworked, underpaid and increasingly consist of fresh-out-of-college types or old hacks hoping to survive with a job until retirement.

And that’s important for your utility to know.

While most of the people in journalism are caring, dedicated and hard-working professions, it’s sad to say that many of them aren’t very good — and the problem won’t be solved any time soon.

That means you’re likely to be dealing with an inexperienced or uniformed reporter who probably knows little about either the electrical industry or your utility. Things will be better at trade publications, but even then maybe only marginally so.

Can you do anything about it?

Absolutely.

Your utility’s PR team needs to be as helpful and informative as possible.

A main goal is to reduce the chance the reporter commits errors — and to do that you need to provide as much information as possible in an easy-to-follow format.

If you don’t already have one, compile a guide to your utility that includes industry terms and spellings, details about how you generate power (and its various sources), company specific information anything else you might consider relevant.

All this materials is probably already included in other printed materials or on your website, but a comprehensive document will be more helpful. Include that document both online and in every physical press kit you distribute.

When a new reporter contacts you, send them the document immediately.

Whenever reporters — especially those you’ve never worked with before — contact you, send them a copy of your guide.

Remember to keep the wording and concepts as simple as possible. Most industries and professions have jargon that its members take for granted. Utility jargon can be confusing to a layman, so assume nothing when you’re dealing with the press.

As always, be helpful to reporters, especially when they seem confused. It’s worth the extra time and effort to make sure the reporter gets the story straight.

Andy Gotlieb's picture

Thank Andy for the Post!

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Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 12, 2019 10:10 pm GMT

If you don’t already have one, compile a guide to your utility that includes industry terms and spellings, details about how you generate power (and its various sources), company specific information anything else you might consider relevant.

Are these the most egregious errors you see these days? While misspellings are of course embarrassing, I was thinking perhaps it would be more nefarious of negatively impacting than that?

Lincoln Bleveans's picture
Lincoln Bleveans on Dec 16, 2019 6:30 pm GMT

Thanks Andy.  After a century of relative stasis and anonymity, it is so easy for those of us in the utility industry to take all of this for granted -- or worse, see media as a threat.  That is a grave and perhaps existential mistake in today's industry and today's world, and guide goes a long way to creating better outcomes for all.

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