Earlier 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.
Employees 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.