I’m not much for poetry — I know, my loss — but one poem that did make a lasting impression on me was Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” which I learned in Mr. Gagliardi’s 7th grade English class at St. Theresa’s School in Briarcliff Manor, New York. The poem ended this way:
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Looking back, that poem helped awaken a character trait of going against the grain. Lots of people root for the underdog or cheer for the Cinderella team. But I went beyond that. I stopped listening to certain musical groups when they became too popular. I often don’t go to movies (such as animated flicks) that are wildly popular. And I delight in exploring the less-traveled path.
Over the last year, I have learned that some energy companies are exploring a less-well-traveled path when it comes to public engagement. Our just-released market research report, Juggling Chainsaws: 2017 Survey of Utility Communicators and Marketers, shows that many utilities are investing more and more of their money, effort and faith in using digital tools like social media, video, chat and text, to connect with customers.
But a few utilities are taking the less-well-traveled path: while they are becoming more digital, they also are cultivating something pre-digital, even pre-historic: direct, face-to-face (F2F) public engagement.
You remember F2F, right? That’s when one person actually spoke directly to another, face-to-face, without electronic intermediaries. So 20th century, right? Nope. And because it is effective as well as cost effective, some utilities are starting to pay attention.