Rural Water - Quarter 4, 2009 - (Page 28)

Effective PR… Even in a Downturn Economy Low or no cost ways to spread your simple, personal and memorable message. BY ROB McELROY, P.E., DAPHNE UTILITIES WATER SERVICE… SO easy a caveman could do it? Cute lizards with English accents talking to people about a free water quote? “Welcome to Spigot Field, home of Super Bowl XLIV, brought to you by the Acme Water Utility Company!” Sound farfetched? Maybe, but if waterlines were as cheap to run as phone cables are, we’d be facing real competition in our industry for every customer… competition that would spur us to be very creative about how we market ourselves and our services! The real question is, “Why aren’t you marketing to your customers anyway?” Wouldn’t your utility operation run more smoothly if your customers valued your service and loved your product? Of course it would… and an effective public relations effort can do just that! “But I’m not one of those creative, ad agency kind of people. I just run a utility company and don’t have the money to fund a huge advertising effort!” You don’t need an expensive ad campaign to be effective. You don’t need cheesy jingles or celebrity endorsements for it to work, either. Effective PR can be done by anyone and is surprisingly easy to do. All you must do is tell the right story and tell it in a SIMPLE, PERSONAL and MEMORABLE way. What do I mean by this? SIMPLE – Your story is not full of geek-speak or other highly technical details. (Use analogies that people can easily understand.) PERSONAL – People can relate to and easily see themselves in the story. (Better yet, they are the heroes of your story!) MEMORABLE – The story must be attention grabbing so that people will remember it and want to tell someone else. (Remember, no one forwards a dull email or sends you a boring YouTube video.) The right story can do all of this for you. For example, everyone knows the classic fable of The Tortoise and the Hare and its moral: “Slow and steady wins the race.” Kids can tell this story after hearing it just once. That is the power of a good story. Simple. Personal. Memorable. Non-working fire hydrants installed at a local dog park with signage nearby educating customers on the importance of hydrant flushing to a water system. 28 • Fourth Quarter 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 4, 2009

Rural Water - Quarter 4, 2009
From the President
Who's Telling Your Story?
Marketing Water and the Unsung Heroes of the Industry
Public Relations: Getting Along With "Aunt" Mildred
Effective PR…Even in a Downturn Economy
Regulatory Update
H20-XPO Wrap-Up
2009 Awards of Excellence
Rural Water Rally
Index to Advertisers
From the CEO

Rural Water - Quarter 4, 2009