EEC Perspectives

Warmest Holiday Wishes from EEC

 

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Credit: iStock

Christmas is only a few weeks away. It’s always a special time in our home. I’ll never forget the Christmas Day years ago when our son Jack, then about age 6, bolted down the stairs and hurled himself at the presents under the tree. His expression was a mix of excitement (“Wow, there’s a ton of presents, I wonder how much of it is mine?”) and worry (“Please, no socks”).

 

fruitcakeHere at EEC, we honor the spirit of Christmas. But instead of lavishing our readers with gift cards, holiday sweaters or PlayStation 4s, we have chosen a humbler approach. This month, we’re regifting some of our most popular blog posts and Subscriber Exclusives of 2016. So take a break from shoveling snow, grab an eggnog, throw another log on the fire and take a look at what your peers at other utilities have been reading. It could make your life easier in 2017!

 

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Credit: City of Boulder

How Boulder is Redefining “Success”: The City of Boulder, Colorado, located 10 miles west of EEC, has been trying to leave Xcel Energy and launch its own distribution utility for many years. Within the electric industry, Boulder’s municipalization efforts have been widely followed, mainly because successful municipalizations are rare. Despite a wealth of talent and drive, Boulder has been losing more than it is winning at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission and in the courts over the last year or so. With each new setback, the city has been redefining “success.” In other words, Boulder’s moving the goalposts. I’m beginning to wonder if the law, and Xcel’s deeper pockets, are starting to wear the city down. Although I still think Boulder could pull victory from the jaws of defeat, I don’t think that will happen. Click here if you missed this Subscriber Exclusive.

Communications Tip of the Month: The changes roiling the electric and gas businesses are forcing communicators to find new ways to create value for their companies. Resistance is futile but pain is optional. Find out what’s working and what’s not from your peers.

How a New Narrative Can Overcome Confirmation Bias: Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said or what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Confirmation bias is people’s tendency to remember facts (or even rumors) that confirm their existing viewpoint. Many customers don’t think particularly highly of their utilities, which blinds them to the good and innovative things many utilities are doing. But a new narrative can overcome confirmation bias, providing utilities follow a few simple rules. You can read all about it by clicking here for a copy of this Subscriber Exclusive.

 

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Managing the Risks Insiders Pose to Utility Cybersecurity: The greatest threat to a utility’s digital and physical assets may be its employees and contractors. Communicators have a huge role to play in protecting their company’s cybersecurity. In this Subscriber Exclusive, we share the proactive steps one utility has taken to combat cyber criminals.

 

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Credit: MG&E

Bad Acts Create PR Problems: Communicators can save themselves oodles of time and stress if they recognize the internal signs that a PR crisis is brewing. If you can’t prevent it, find out what one of your peers did to clean up their utility’s reputation after the fit hit the shan. Also, check out our checklist for identifying a brewing crisis.

 

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Credit: DKeith Pictures

Six Tips to Get More Writing Done in the Office: Innumerable pieces of good writing have been killed or injured because the writer was distracted. Don’t become a statistic! A recent blog post contained six simple tips for cranking out more copy at the office. Throttling back your efforts to multitask is a big step in the right direction. Watching this video is another.

 

Our monthly website blog posts and Subscriber Exclusives are an easy way for us to stay in touch and let you know what’s on our radar screens here at EEC. We are truly grateful for your contributions, your indulgence and your interest in improving the effectiveness of your communications and marketing efforts. The changes roiling our industry create valuable opportunities to learn from your peers.

Now, let’s refresh that eggnog and judge this year’s ugly holiday sweater contest!

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Credit: iStock

 


WPPI Final Case Study CoverDo You Have an Annual Report that Needs to be Written?

Check out our case study on Annual Report Writing here to see how EEC could help you with your Annual Report. Or, click here on this website for actual samples of annual reports we have written content for. It’s not too late to start planning your annual project today!

A Wild(e) Thought on the Value of Communications for Utilities

 

Credit: Biography.com

Credit: Biography.com

“A cynic,” Oscar Wilde once wrote, is someone “who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.”

That may offend electric and gas company officials with budgetary responsibilities. Since resources are not unlimited, someone has the (often thankless) task of deciding what will be funded and what won’t. Wilde’s comment may sting, but like many of his observations, this one contains a large kernel of eternal truth.

Budget Battles Inside Utilities

As a general rule, companies fund what they value, and don’t fund what they don’t. At the end of the day, not funding a function is equivalent to saying it’s simply not essential or at least not important enough to receive funding.

I don’t propose to substitute my judgment, or Wilde’s, for that of electric and gas leaders. I can’t possibly know as much about their operational challenges or budget dilemmas as they do. And I don’t want to engage in budget-shaming. But I have seen the consequences when electric and gas companies under-fund communications and marketing. So I hope this post will be taken as more of an early warning than a scolding.

Today’s budget environment inside electric and gas companies is extraordinarily difficult. Cyber security, infrastructure construction and system upgrades are jockeying with everyone else for slices of the limited budget pie.

I don’t advocate a spending binge on communications or marketing for all utilities at all times. But there are consequences to under-funding those functions. In more than a few cases, I have been asked to help electric and gas companies recover from under-investment in communications and marketing.

Read more »

Build a Better Budget … with Market Intelligence from the EEC Survey

For Utility Communicators & Marketers Only!

 

survey-graphic-we-want-to-hear-from-you-compressorWe want to HEAR from you!

Earlier in my career, I prepared budgets for my utility’s media relations function. I had no independent, third-party information to know whether I was under-staffed, fully staffed or over-staffed compared to other utilities. Having that information would have helped me make a stronger budget case to executive management.

Credit: iStock

Credit: iStock

That’s one reason Egan Energy Communications has launched its second survey of utility communicators and marketers – we want our clients and colleagues to build their budgets and deploy their resources as effectively as possible. You have to start where you stand. You need high-quality, independent market intelligence.

Take the Survey Now.

 

Having this market intelligence is particularly critical in today’s fast-moving media market. For utilities, the consequences of under-investing in communications or marketing today are higher than ever. Reputational damage from a safety incident or scandal, or failing to explain why your prices are changing, carries long-lived impacts.

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