Rural Water - Quarter 4, 2015 - (Page 22)

PuBlIC relatIONS aND MarketING Quality on tap! w A recognizable brand that tells the story of rural water BY SaNDY SMItH When Mark Johnson, CEO of Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water in Lake Benton, Minn., talks with clients who have switched from well water to his system, he hears a familiar story. "They say, 'Since I switched over to rural water, I don't have the sulfates and my baby pigs just did so much better,'" Johnson said. "'They're surviving and finish out faster.' That's an important measurement to them. When it comes to economics, they can see the difference, even though they are now paying for water." In Minnesota, pork farming is a significant aspect of the state's economy- tallying $7.28 billion in 2013. It's no wonder that the benefits of quality water resonate with those whose livelihood rely on it. In other communities, the issue may focus on health concerns for families or a consistent product for industrial uses. Regardless, rural water systems deliver quality water to their customers every day. It's often a message that can get overlooked and water systems taken for granted, especially since high quality affordable water is so readily accessible, in even the most remote parts of the United States. "Water utilities are out of sight, out of mind," said Greg Merrigan, system manager, Clay Rural Water System in Wakonda, S.D. "When people have good quality water, they don't think of the rural water system. It's easy for people to take us for granted." That is one reason that Clay Rural Water-along with many other systems-makes use of the Quality on Tap branding program developed by the National Rural Water Association 20 years ago. The campaign helps reinforce the message of the quality of work done by rural water systems-and the quality of water produced. "As many places as we can put that out there, it helps them think of us in a positive light," Merrigan said. "And not just think of us once a month when they get their bills." Sharing the story In the last two decades, the program has taken on a life of its own. Rural water systems have found creative and interesting ways to showcase the message. Through the years, "we've slapped that puppy on anything you can imagine," said Scott Ham, manager of the 7,200-customer Silver Creek Water Corp., in Sellersburg, Ind. He has seen other rural 22 FOurtH Quarter 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 4, 2015

From the President
Who’s Telling Your Story?
Communications 101
Quality on Tap!
New Affinity Partner Takes the Pain Out of Having a Website for your Town or Water System
You Own Your Dreams
Another Successful WaterPro Conference
Regulatory Update
Throwing My Loop
Index to Advertisers/
From the CEO

Rural Water - Quarter 4, 2015