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What Public Relations Trends Should Your Utility Follow in 2020?

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The start of any new year is a time to look forward, and many articles have been published in recent weeks about likely trends in public relations in 2020.

These so-called trends do matter to your utility, so it’s important to keep up-to-date on them to secure as much publicity as possible this year.

That said, a lot of these “trends” really are “back to the future” kinds of things — the stuff that will always be the backbone of any successful PR team.

For example, content will always be king. Given all the fake news and outright blather that the internet and social media have fostered, it’s harder than ever for journalists to find the good stuff, which also is known as “stuff people might read/listen to/view.”

Quality is definitely more important than quality, and you need material that tells a compelling story. Your utility surely has plenty of good stories to tell and the generally favorable public perception of utilities (unless you’re in California) means your pitches will carry some weight.

And when it comes down to it, communications are communications. That’s why some people are calling the press release a trend.

A lot of PR practitioners scoff at the press release as outdated, but it remains a fundamental starting point for getting out the news. Be sure your releases are short, to the point and have ample contacts so journalists seeking details can find them.

Then there’s the thought leadership trend, which really isn’t a trend at all — even though you still need to heed it.

The content you publish will reflect how the public views you, so you need to actively engage your customers by positioning yourself as a trusted authority. In a best-case scenario you would have the power to influence others.

While I tend to scoff at many trends, some undeniably are having an impact.

People seem to love podcasts, which are a great if you want to become one of those aforementioned thought leaders. As you largely control the content, especially if you’re the one hosting the podcast, that’s an added bonus.

And it pains me to say it, but the idea of “influencers” is here to stay. At first glance, influencers seemed to be the type of millennials who are able to sell overpriced designer acne medicine and makeup to gullible teens — and that isn’t necessarily wrong — but it’s seemingly more than just that. And if something works, so be it.

Because utilities aren’t retail operations, becoming an influencer likely won’t be a priority, but it’s something to keep an eye on. And if someone at your utility manages to become an influencer, more power to you (pun intended).

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Thank Andy for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jan 13, 2020 4:37 pm GMT

And it pains me to say it, but the idea of “influencers” is here to stay. At first glance, influencers seemed to be the type of millennials who are able to sell overpriced designer acne medicine and makeup to gullible teens — and that isn’t necessarily wrong — but it’s seemingly more than just that. And if something works, so be it.

I definitely get the inherent eyeroll, but for a utility I could see a 'local' influencer being a great ambassador for energy efficiency initiatives, awareness of rebate programs, etc. The times are changing fast, and utilities can't fall into old habits of being left behind!

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