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So many great utility stories are waiting to be told. From operations to finance and board policy directives to energy services, our communities are waiting to hear them. 

What Will Your Story Be in 2022? Content Planner from Pioneer, WordSouth, and Efficiency Services GroupPioneer’s free content planner, What Will Your Story Be in 2022, helps you mine key messaging nuggets from your organization’s broad story categories and plan to share them on your local magazine pages, across social media and other communication channels. What’s the best place to start planning? At the end.

Begin with the End in Mind

Hop into the ‘90s wayback machine and channel your inner Steven Covey for a moment. Key messages practically write themselves when we think about what we want them to achieve. 

Ask yourself:

  • What specific takeaways does my utility want to convey to our stakeholders in 2022? 
  • What thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors do we want to nudge in new directions in 2022? 
  • What new points of view would my organization like to advance in 2022?

In my last post, How to Find Strategic Stories for 2022, we talked about the importance of identifying goals. Once you have a list of communication targets for 2022, use utility goals to develop key messages. Then find local stories to bring those messages home. 

Here are four examples of matching utility goals with key messages, then generating story ideas to make your goals a reality.

Goal 1: Promote Community

Key Messages: 

  • The co-op supports youth and engages tomorrow’s young adult members to the utility through the NRECA Youth Tour.
  • Annual meeting attendance fosters community goodwill and member leadership.

Story Ideas:

  • Profile a youth tour delegate ten years after participating in the program. Highlight how the program helped them launch a career/learn about leadership.
  • Five reasons to attend the annual meeting
  • Share three ways members have a voice in the utility, then list ways to participate in future meetings.
Goal 2: Focus on Culture of Safety

Key Messages: 

  • Call 811 for utility locates before digging to prevent personal injury and property damage liability.
  • High voltage safety around downed lines.

Story Ideas:

  • Four reasons to call 8-1-1 before you dig.
  • Share tips for staying safe around high voltage wires.
Goal 3: Explain Project Funding

Key Messages: 

  • Show members the value proposition of investment in their utility.
  • Show members that financing equitably spreads investment costs to future users as well as today’s members.

Story Ideas:

  • Spotlight capital improvement projects planned for 2022, outlining how each project impacts member reliability; member, employee, and community safety, and; potential long-term savings. 
  • Explain how financing of system improvements spreads the burden of the investment to future members who will benefit from them, too.
Goal 4: Increase Energy Efficiency Program Participation

Key Messages: 

  • Heat pump water heaters save up to 75% on water heating costs.
  • The co-op’s rebate program saves members money now on the measures they take, later in energy cost savings, and aids the region in resource adequacy. 

Story Ideas:

  • Profile a member who recently installed a heat pump water heater, explaining the investment and resulting energy savings.
  • Efficiency Lights [XX] Homes! This data-driven story idea tracks how many members used your rebate program last year, how many dollars were returned to members in rebates, and how many collective kWhs were saved translated into the number of homes that energy would power. Tip: The average home used 843 kWh a month in 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Tell Your Story. Repeat.

Once you determine your key messages and local stories for the year, use Pioneer’s content planner to list and coordinate strategic storytelling across all communication channels. 

Don’t move off your key messages too soon. Effective frequency research shows that people need to hear a message seven to fourteen times before actions or attitudes change. Frequency creates familiarity; familiarity creates trust. Repeated messages are remembered by our consumers, therefore more likely to be believed and acted upon. Find fresh faces and local angles to bring your key messages home throughout the year.

With your plan and your calendar in place, your story ideas for 2022 are ready for you and your team to bring to life!