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Setting 2018 Goals for Your Utility’s Public Relations Efforts

When people ask public relations professionals what their main goal is, the answer usually is “coverage.”

And while coverage by the media certainly is desirable, there’s much more to PR than that.

As 2018 begins, you need to think long and hard about what you actually hope to accomplish for your utility.

For one thing, you want to remain in the public eye in a favorable manner. And media coverage of your events, announcements and assorted good deeds will help with that.

More importantly, however, what is the message that you’re sending? Every utility will have different goals, but there are some universal things. Those likely include mentioning that your utility:

● Is a reliable provider of power

● Is continuing efforts to be as green as possible

● Goes above and beyond in tackling outages

● Is a good citizen in the community

● Is a consumer resource in terms of education and energy-saving programs

● Provides good shareholder value (if your utility is publicly traded)

So, how do you accomplish these things?

“Coverage” obviously helps, but are you targeting the right outlets? A lot of utilities send out press releases via wire service and get reports that the release was picked up by hundreds of outlets.

But that’s often fool’s gold. If you’re a utility based in Tampa, Fla., how does it benefit you when websites in Minnesota, Oregon, Maryland and New Hampshire publish your release (likely on obscure links that  include hundreds of other unrelated releases)?

Quick answer: It doesn’t.

Make sure your media lists include outlets that cover your area of operation and might attract some of your readers. The general local daily newspaper is always a good target; the fashion magazine probably is not.

It’s also important to stay on point.  Pick a few themes for 2018 and include them in all public information released throughout the year. Hammer on those themes for the next 12 months.

And be sure to repurpose the media coverage you do receive. Post all relevant hits prominently on your website; you might even go so far to reprint the best hits and include them as bill inserts. Remember that your website is one area completely under your control, so don’t include any media placements that stray from the messages you want to make.

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