Rural Electric Cooperative Communications: The Times Are Changing

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Consider this: Just a few years ago rural electric cooperatives were not under pressure to communicate rapidly with the media, members or employees. Today, you have less than one hour to control the flow of accurate information.

There are three major reasons why this is changing and four things you can do to adjust to these changes. If you are not adjusting to these changes, you will be in big trouble.

To learn about the three major changes and four ways to adjust, read on…

To communicate effectively at a 2014 level, you need these four things:

1) Your co-op must have the most extensive crisis communications plan ever written.

2) Your crisis communications plan must have a library of at least 100 pre-written news releases.

3) Your CEO/manager, operations director, customer service director, and public relations director must agree to all train at least once a year for media interviews.

4) Your co-op must conduct a crisis communications drill at least once a year to test your crisis communications plan, your pre-written news releases, and the media interview skills of your spokespeople.

Why is this suddenly so critical in 2014? Here are the three reasons:

#1 Urban Sprawl

Time was, when city media seldom reported on rural electric co-op issues. Today, as cities like Houston, Atlanta, and others have turned pastures and forests into neighborhoods, the media aggressively covers stories in these areas. New residents in new houses represent a young, emerging audience with disposable income that appeals to advertisers, especially for television news. Those same new residents are likely to be the quickest to call a television news investigative reporter and they will be the first to comment online about a negative news report.

#2 The Rural Weekly Paper is Online

Time was, when rural news was only reported by the local weekly newspaper. Today, the internet has allowed the weekly paper to publish online 24/7. No longer can you take days to respond to a co-op controversy. The weekly paper may still print just one day a week, but they need an interview, facts and quotes from you just as fast as the big city media.

#3 Social Media

An angry member can quickly escalate any issue to the crisis level. They can escalate an issue into an online controversy and a mainstream media controversy. While many co-op managers and board members continue to wrangle with, question, and oppose a social media presence, members are creating their own anti-cooperative Facebook pages. Your extensive crisis communications plan must have a social media strategy.

Conclusion

Co-op communications is changing rapidly. If you, like so many cooperative communicators, find yourself with too many other tasks and too few people or hours in the day, please call me. I have fast, easy and affordable solutions to your communication challenges, including a world class crisis communications plan that can be customized in just two days.

Click here to LISTEN to what other cooperative communicators have to say about this fast, cost effective way to implement a crisis communications plan customized for your cooperative. You can also call me at 985-624-9976 to learn more.

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