EEC Perspectives

Persisting in the Face of Failure

apollo-13Our society is not really keen on failure. If we wanted to assign blame for this, we could point to Apollo 13, the movie about an ill-fated mission to the moon in 1970. Faced with a catastrophic equipment malfunction and the potential loss of a lunar spacecraft and three astronauts, Ed Harris’ NASA mission control character famously asserted, “Failure is not an option!” And, despite daunting odds, the NASA team got the astronauts safely back to Earth.

Apollo 13 was a great movie, but only in Hollywood would failure not be an option. Outside Hollywood, here in the real world, failure is not only an option, it’s a pretty common outcome. Actually, given the crop of stinkers that has kept me away from movie theaters this summer, failure is pretty common in Hollywood too.

A while back, I started discussing success and failure in utility marketing and communications with Arnie Winkler, director of education and workforce development for the Northwest Public Power Association (NWPPA). But we had to cut our conversation short because I had a doctor’s appointment. Not 30 minutes later, sitting in my doctor’s office, I came across a National Geographic article on famous failures among explorers, such as Ernest Shackleton’s doomed attempt to cross the Antarctic a century ago. “Failure — never sought, always dreaded, impossible to ignore — is the specter that hovers over every attempt at exploration,” the article said. Read more »

Public Speaking: If You Must Use PowerPoint…

public-speaking“The trouble with PowerPoint is, usually there’s no power and no point.” I’m not sure who said it first – the advertising executive I heard it from said it came from Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, who many blame for unleashing a powerful tool on unsuspecting speakers and audiences everywhere. We have all heard snide references to “PowerPoint Hell” and “Death by Power Point.” Today’s blog post follows from an earlier one on public speaking, Better Public Speaking: 6 Tips, 6 Sins and 1 Golden Rule, where I emphasized that perfectly fine, even terrific, talks can be delivered without the use of PowerPoint.

But if you’re going to use PowerPoint, there are a few rules. Let’s go over a few here, for the benefits of speakers and audience members everywhere. You can also check out this killer YouTube video, STOP! You’re Killing Me with PowerPoint!


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Overcoming Email Immunity with Face-to-Face Communications

connectEarlier this summer I was delighted to speak at CONNECT ’14, an absolutely terrific event for electric cooperative communicators and marketers sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

The heightened importance of direct, face-to-face interaction with members was one of the takeaways of CONNECT ’14, held in San Antonio. And while the specifics of marketing and communicating with electric co-op members is slightly different from communicating with IOU customers or the customer-owners of public power utilities, the general points are absolutely comparable and applicable.

Several CONNECT ’14 speakers said employees are a co-op’s number 1 asset, but in my session on “Getting More Bang for Your Communications and Marketing Buck,” few attendees said their co-op was making optimal use of employees as a communications asset. Virtually no one said their co-op had a program in place as part of their communications plan to organize and utilize retirees as valuable communications assets.

john-egan-energy-communicationsEmployees and retirees from across a co-op, IOU or public power utility have an important role to play as communicators, particularly as our communications channels multiply. Employees and retirees are the face and voice of an electric business that continues to be defined geographically. “Communications” is not and cannot be the exclusive purview of the Communications department. 

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