Utility Community Relations: Say “Hello” to the People (AKA “Customers”) Who Pay Your Salary

AdminBlog, Customer, Face-to-Face, Utility Communications, Utility Community Relations

“Believe only half of what you see and nothing that you hear.” That was a sentiment first expressed by Edgar Allen Poe in the 19th century, then made popular in the 20th century by the journalist H.L. Mencken. But today, the issue has new urgency: in an era of deepfake images and large-language-model artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT and Bard, … Read More

Sky-High Energy Bills: Utilities Need New Actions and a New Narrative

AdminBlog, Customer, Utility Communications, Utility Customer Satisfaction, Value

Do you remember this painting? Prints of it have adorned college dorm rooms for decades. It’s Salvador Dali’s “Persistence of Memory.” I wasn’t an Art History major, so I’m not sure exactly what the melting clocks are supposed to signify. But the fact I remember it decades after I took it off my own dorm wall attests to the truth … Read More

How to Keep Your Utility Brand from Becoming Toxic

AdminBlog, Customer, Customers, Utility Communications, Utility Marketing

Whether your company delivers electricity or natural gas, your customers’ bills have shot up, which damages your utility’s brand. Analytically, we all understand why bills have shot up: Natural gas costs have skyrocketed. Colder weather has driven up customer usage. Inflation. Supply chain. The costs of building out or replacing your infrastructure. Heck, even water provider’s bills have risen, for … Read More

A Few Thoughts on Fear, Gas Stoves, and Freedom

AdminBlog, Customer, Effective, Programs & Services, Utility Communications, Utility Marketing

“Are Your Gas Appliances Killing You?” That’s the way I began a piece of marketing collateral I wrote, well, back in the waning years of the 20th century. Back then, I worked in marketing for an electric utility, Salt River Project, and we were having our lunch eaten by a natural gas utility, Southwest Gas, in the new-home construction market. … Read More

2023 Resolutions: Lose Weight, Exercise More, Ban Buzzwords

AdminBlog, Effective, Utility Communications, Writing

“If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance,” goes the old saying, “baffle them with bulls***.” A scan of almost any business communication — printed material, email, job descriptions, even social media — shows an undue reliance on buzzwords, AKA bulls***. Photo Credit: LinkedIn People use buzzwords to sound important, blur meaning, or simply navigate a conversation while on mental autopilot. … Read More

Rate Case Communications: Why This Time It’s Different

AdminUtility Customer Satisfaction, Utility Marketing, Utility Rate Case Communications

Natural gas prices are up sharply. Coal prices are also up. The long-term declines in costs to build renewable energy seem to have paused. Skilled craft labor is in short supply. Supply chain bottlenecks persist. Transformers have a three-year wait time. All of that means it’s time to activate your rate case communications plan, because you need to talk to … Read More

Media Relations 202: Have a Good Story

AdminBlog, Utility Media Relations, Utility Stakeholders

In a previous blog post, I drew on some recent work as a contract reporter to share two tips to help utility media relations representatives win better coverage by the news media: diligently answering messages left by the news media and making it extremely easy for reporters to find you. Those tips were so elementary that I called them  “Media … Read More

Promoting Energy Safety to Your Customers? How to Breathe Life into Your Marketing

AdminBlog, Customer, Effective, Messaging, Safety, Utility Communications

When I began my career in energy journalism at The Energy Daily, my mentor and editor John McCaughey gave me a tip: “Your readers will die soon enough — try not to bore them to death!”     Energy Safety: Good Copy and Provocative Art Can Save Lives That tip is particularly useful when writing about energy safety. Some energy … Read More