spotlight on excellence awards logoDuring a storm, we all need a bit of sunshine. Let’s take a break from the virus that shall not be named to celebrate #UtilityPioneers with award-winning work in the spotlight.

NRECA’s Spotlight on Excellence Awards program notified 2020 winners last week. We (giddily) ran through the list and were excited to see Alaska and Oregon Pioneer partners shining. And we were over the moon when three of Pioneer’s entries won gold, too!

Spotlight on Storytelling

Copper Valley Electric Cooperative’s video, Behind the Switch, won gold for Best Digital Storytelling in its classification. If you’ve ever wondered what sets Alaska’s utilities apart, this video shows the lengths (and challenges) this isolated utility reaches to serve 2,700 members.

“We produce our own power. We distribute our own power,” says CVEA CEO John Duhamel. “Anything and everything required to keep the lights on is our sole responsibility.”

Utility Pioneer and CVEA Director of Communications Sharon Scheidt managed the video project. Sharon volunteers on Pioneer’s Communications Committee, helping guide magazine content and marketing support ideas.

Pioneer’s special coverage of the opioid crisis, Coming out of the Dark, tied for gold for Best Feature Story, an at-large category. Written by Claire Sykes and conceived and shaped by the Pioneer team, the story was part of Ruralite magazine’s Changing the Face of Rural Health Care series.

As part of the multimedia approach, Pioneer Assistant Editor Ethan E. Rocke interviewed a psychiatrist and a former opioid addict to produce the storytelling video, Coming Out of the Dark. The call-to-action video won gold for Best Digital Storytelling in its classification.

Both the feature and video were produced with support from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.

Special Publications Shine

celebrating 50 years of service to rural alaska publication with image of woman by waterCelebrating 50 years of Service in Rural Alaska (PDF), a 90-page book detailing the struggles and victories won by Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, won gold, in its class, for best special publication. To create the community history book, AVEC Public Relations Officer and Utility Pioneer Amy Murphy teamed up with Pioneer Assistant Editor Mike Teegarden. The book explores the history of all 57 villages served by the co-op.

“What stands out is the loyalty and steadfastness of the AVEC… power plant operators who keep the lights on in the villages, and the AVEC field technicians who fly across the state, dodging storms as they meet the needs of communities hammered by the weather,” says AVEC President and CEO Meera Kohler.

ascend to leadership brochure imagesOur partners at Northwest Public Power Association won gold in the Best Special Publication category in its class for their Ascend to Leadership brochure (PDF). The 8-page guide outlines skills earned through the 6-month management-training program.

Finally, to help #UtilityPioneers prepare for hurricanes, wildfires, snowstorms and other types of extended outages, Pioneer Content Manager Megan McKoy-Noe wrote and designed the eBook, Coping with a Crisis. The crisis communications guide won gold for Best Special Publication in its class

Coping with a Crisis offers insights from two Florida utility communicators who survived losing critical communication channels during 2018’s Hurricane Michael. It also features crisis communication plans from Oregon, Nevada and Florida, with handy tools to strengthen your plan. We’d like to thank Utility Pioneers Kristin Evans, vice president of communications at Florida’s Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative, and Candace Croft, communications and public relations coordinator at West Florida Electric Cooperative, for sharing their award-winning stories and learning moments with us.

More About Spotlight

The Spotlight on Excellence Awards program, sponsored by the Certified Cooperative Communicator Program and the Council of Rural Electric Communicators, recognizes a body of outstanding work produced by electric cooperative communication and marketing professionals from across the country. Sixteen categories reflect the wide scope and valuable contributions of co-op communicators today.

The full list of award winners will be available later this spring. Awards will be handed out in May at the CONNECT conference if the event moves ahead as planned.

Congratulations to all of the winners!