How are new programs born? Who gives editors ideas for basic book content, then offers feedback on the draft editorial calendar? Meet Ruralite Services’ Communications Committee. 

10 volunteer members—utility staff who regularly use Ruralite resources—provide ideas and critical feedback to the communications cooperative. The group’s first meeting of 2018 was in May. 

“We’re charting our future together,” says Ruralite Editor Leon Espinoza. “Our aim is to build on our solid foundation, try new things, and take good things and make them better.”

Ruralite’s editorial team guides the team’s agenda. 

“The committee members are critical pulse-takers for us, providing ongoing guidance as we make key choices in the months ahead,” Leon says. 

Communicators from most of the states Ruralite serves are on the committee, plus 2 at-large members. Members are encouraged to represent their regions and seek feedback from other utility staff.

“I think it is important to have a group of members as a sounding board,” says Chairwoman Corby Erwin, member and energy services director for California’s Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative. “We are in the trenches using Ruralite’s services to communicate to our members. We have a good feel for what new ideas might work well.”

New Faces 

5 members with fresh perspectives were added to the committee: 

  • Sarah Johnson, Clatskanie PUD, Oregon
  • Katy Reno, Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association, Arizona
  • Pam Spettel, Blachly-Lane Electric Cooperative, Oregon
  • Sharon Crisp, Copper Valley Electric Association, Alaska
  • Beth Schroder, Klickitat PUD, Washington

Since the key to teamwork is building strong relationships, committee members spent time getting to know each other in May.  

“We discovered one member has a whole room dedicated to sneakers,” Leon says. “Another climbs rocks and is pals with participants on America Ninja Warrior. This is a fun group.” 

“My favorite part of serving on the committee over the years has been the interactions and networking with peers that stimulated a lot of really good ideas,” Corby says. “As the committee evolves, I expect increased interactions that will continue to stimulate more awesome ideas and programs for Ruralite.”

A complete committee list is on Ruralite’s website.

Readership Results in June

In late June, preliminary readership survey results arrive for Florida Currents, Currents, and Ruralite.

“We’re eager to learn what resonates, what doesn’t, and how we can improve the magazine experience,” Leon says.

The results will inform a planned redesign and refresh of the magazines. Committee members serve as a key touch point on the survey results, as well as any redesign and content changes.

“We are planning to unleash Ruralite’s in-house talent to generate more powerful writing, photography, and presentation,” Leon says. “We will use our main features as a vehicle to try new approaches and be more regionally relevant. The committee will help us know what works.”

The committee’s structure and purpose were revamped this year. In the past, the team met only once or twice a year. In 2018, the group will meet 4 times a year—2 times in person and twice by conference call. A meeting held before October’s Communications Workshop will be a key planning and work session.

Share Your Ideas 

Have an idea for a new service or wish a current program could do new things? You do not have to be on the committee to make your voice heard.

“This is a journey we will all be on together,” Leon says. “Feedback from those we serve is welcome any time.”

Have an idea? Email Leon, ask your editor, or talk to a committee member.