Ever wondered how to get your utility featured in the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s RE Magazine, Northwest Public Power Association’s Bulletin, or American Public Power Association’s Public Power magazines? We talked to the experts to learn what kind of stories deserve regional and national attention.
“I’m always looking for human angles on reliability, energy efficiency, and new technology,” says Derrill Holly, a senior staff writer, and editor for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Derrill’s work appears in RE Magazine, Electric.coop, and consumer-facing Straight Talk articles.
“If you have somebody in your service territory that’s doing something new and different—not your basic DIY project but something really, really unique—they might make for a good story,” says Derrill.
Not a member of NRECA? NWPPA needs unique story ideas, too.
“I am always looking for story ideas that can be used for either a cover story or one of our columns,” says NWPPA Associate Editor Brenda Dunn. “Have you been working on a large project? Have you implemented a new policy that may benefit other utilities? Are you using new technology? Tell me!”
NWPPA’s Bulletin magazine columns cover a range of topics, such as accounting, community outreach, member service, distributed generation, efficiency, operations, human resources, and power supply.
“The best story ideas are the ones that are unique, timely, and interesting for our members,” says Brenda.
Be inspired by examples of share-worthy tales from Florida and Alaska.
Muddy Member Marvel
In Florida, Peace River Electric Cooperative Communications Coordinator Mark Sellers turned a muddy outage tale into a way to showcase members.
“Derrill loves feel-good stories—the quirky stories you don’t get in day-to-day operations,” says Mark.
For example, a bucket truck got stuck in the mud as 2 PRECO service technicians worked to restore power to 300 members during Super Bowl LII. That’s when members saved the day.
“An elderly couple who are co-op members drove by,” says Mark. “One of the line technicians flagged them down and hitched a ride a couple of miles away to the substation. The members waited as our guy got the substation back online, then drove him back to the bucket truck. It’s a wonderful story.”
Mark told the story to Derrill. An article was published the next day, and Mark quickly shared it on Facebook with his members.
While earthquakes always warrant a story—Alaska co-ops were spotlighted in January after a 7.9-magnitude quake—utilities in the Last Frontier state gain national press with technology stories, too.
“Alaska offers great human achievement stories,” says Michael Rovito, director of member and public relations for Alaska Power Association. “Our members persevere to lower energy costs because we have significantly higher energy costs than the rest of the nation.”
When Alaska Village Cooperative CEO Meera Kohler lobbied Congress for hybrid microgrid research to reduce energy costs for Alaskan communities, the story resonated nationally.
“We are integrating new technologies in a place where some people do not think they will work,” says Michael. “A significant portion of our state is arctic, so people might think solar panels or wind turbines will not work in those conditions. But our tradition of renewables in the artic is growing, and it’s helping hold down costs.”
That is a story worth sharing.
Even the best stories go untold unless you take the first step: share.
Pick someone to tell your story to based on your industry membership. Some groups will want to write the story. Others prefer you to send a press release. Use these contacts and start sharing your story today: