Buzzwords, Message Discipline, and Annual Reports: EEC’s Best-Read Content from 2021

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December 1, 2021
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Gifts for Energy Communicators: Our Best-Read Content from 2021

We’re winding down another year like no other. Nearly all of our workplaces, if not our lives, continue to be roiled by some aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many readers, their employers continue to debate working from home, working in the office, or a hybrid that combines options. Also, to vax or not to vax? Masks: Yes? No? Sometimes? How shall we meet? Let me count the ways: Zoom, Teams, GoToMeeting, Skype, WebEx, Facetime, or Google Meet.

It’s a lot. I know many of you have spent 2021 up in the air on so many personal and workplace issues. But one thing remained the same: Mother Nature continued to have her influence on utilities by bringing a large number of weather extremes, including the Texas deep freeze, Western wildfires and flooding, a hugely destructive Atlantic hurricane season, and over 750 tornadoes.

That meant there were plenty of opportunities for utility communicators to deploy their crisis communications chops!

Many scientists say this extreme weather was caused, or made worse, by climate change. This was the year that some utilities began paying more attention to ESG, or Environmental, Social, and Governance issues. Others got there years earlier. Still others have not yet added “ESG” to their vocabulary. Stay tuned!

Herewith, our best-read content of 2021. No need to wait until December 25 to unwrap your present from EEC!

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION: BAN BUZZWORDS!

On most days, the cartoon strip “Dilbert” is a humorous guide to what’s wrong with Corporate America. By showcasing the questionable behaviors and sketchy decisions from all of the characters, cartoonist Scott Adams suggests a better future. One of his favorite targets is corporate buzzwords heard in workplaces. He humbly suggests we use real words with agreed-upon meanings in our communications. Read all about it here.

REPETITION, THE SECRET SAUCE OF MESSAGE DISCIPLINE

Some market research studies say an intended recipient needs to hear a new message at least seven times before they even recognize it. Another dozen or so repetitions and the audience starts to be intrigued by it, perhaps to the point of trying out the advertised product or service. Then comes the hard part: delivering on the promise!

Whether you’re trying to support a new corporate identity, market a new service, or drive enrollments in an energy-efficiency program, success results from: frequently repeating the new, believable, simple message; using the right channels; utilizing compelling art; and then delivering upon the promise. Read more here.

THREE STEPS TO WRITING BETTER ANNUAL REPORTS

For many readers, the “annual report” season began a month or two ago, and if all goes well, will conclude next March. Writing an annual report can be trying under the best conditions, and some readers tell me conditions rarely rise to the level of “best.”

But don’t panic! EEC has written over a dozen utility annual reports, and more than half of them have won awards. So I’d like to suggest three simple (but not easy!) steps to writing an annual report that will be read and more importantly becomes a repository of content that can be reused, repurposed, and recycled.

UTILITY RATE CASE COMMUNICATIONS: DOING IT RIGHT

With enactment of the Biden’s administration’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill a few weeks ago, and the potential passage of an even larger “Build Back Better” plan, “infrastructure” likely will be a top-of-mind issue for your utility. More infrastructure means rate cases, which in turn means rate-case communications.

A few utility communicators welcome the rate-case communications because it gives them a chance to talk about the service and safety improvements their utility has made in order to serve customers better. If you want to communicate more confidently about your utility’s infrastructure improvements, start by clicking here.

UTILITY COMMUNICATIONS AND MARKETING TIPS FROM THE TRENCHES

Firmly believing that a different perspective would address, from a practitioner perspective, important issues for subscribers, I pitched three communications professionals at NorthWestern Energy on writing a guest blog slugged “tips from the trenches,” for people working in the communications or marketing functions of a utility. The search for a fresh perspective paid off, as the blogpost written by Bobbi Schroeppel, Heather Burns, and Brandy Powers was one of the better-read blogposts of 2021. The authors shared their personal experiences with organizational change, career advice, building bridges to peers internally, and getting around the challenges of having a small team.

While we hope your Christmas stockings will be stuffed with gifts and candy, our more important hope is that you find these pieces, and other content on the EEC website, helpful in your work.

As we approach 2022, I urge readers to be kind, do good work, and stay in touch! The pandemic has reminded us of the importance of all three.


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