About 49 million people in 49 states and five territories across the U.S. are public power customers. However, our research has shown that the majority of those 49 million people don’t even realize their utility is community-owned. We need to make them aware of this fact and explain why this matters. And we can do this more effectively if we speak with one voice. At our members’ request, the American Public Power Association developed a national campaign to raise awareness of public power.
The campaign is built on the theme “Community Powered” and is designed for Association members (public power utilities, joint action agencies, and state associations) to implement in your communities from October to December 2018.
We hope you will participate in the campaign and engage your communities. Let’s tell the public power story together.
Goal and Audiences
“Community Powered” is an awareness campaign. It was conceived to let people to know they have an ownership stake in their local electric utility and encourage them to connect with the utility. The campaign is intended to build customer loyalty and broad appreciation and support of the public power business model.
We designed this campaign to let you reach multiple audiences — your business and residential customers, your governing body members and local policymakers, and other key influencers in your community.
Messages and Approach
The key message is that the community owns the utility and that the public power utility is accountable only to the community. The messaging indicates that you are strong economic engines, keeping your community vibrant and thriving, and that you care about and give back to your community.
This campaign leverages the power of your relationships and connections in your community. It is designed for implementation primarily through social media and local community events and outreach. While you can use other channels that work best for you, social media will help us speak with one voice, amplify the campaign messages, and engage stakeholders.
The primary intent of the campaign is to facilitate a two-way conversation between your utility and its stakeholders. It’s not just you telling them public power is great; it’s about getting your community members to express and share the pride of joint ownership.
We’ve built a campaign website, WeAreCommunityPowered.com, for your use. This site presents key facts and stats about public power and is not branded to any specific organization. You can drive your audiences to this site to learn about the benefits of public power.
The site has a Find Your Utility section with a map that lists all public power utilities by state/territory and links back to your website.
The campaign site also has a Utility Resources section with materials for you to download and use (NO special login or password is required). We will refresh these resources frequently to support your campaign activities.
A critical element of the campaign is the hashtag. Use #CommunityPowered in all your campaign communications and in every social media post — and encourage your stakeholders to do the same when they share on social media. This helps us bring together the campaign voices and activity across the country.
If your organization has not done much with social media before, you might want to look for some support. The Social Media Job Description explains the steps you can take to hire an intern, consultant, or staff member for this role and provides a sample posting that tells potential applicants (and you!) possible tasks, as well as information about qualifications and how to apply. Download job description.
7 Ways to Implement
Want to roll out the Community Powered awareness campaign in your community, but not sure where to start? Here are seven easy options — consider using one or all, depending on your capacity.
- Share on social media
Post on your utility or city Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts about how your utility serves the community. Highlight the role of your lineworkers, other staff, and board/council members. Tell your customers how important they are to you. Remember to use #CommunityPowered in all posts.
A few sample posts and graphics are available on the Utility Resources section of the campaign website. You can also create your own content for social media and share it, using #CommunityPowered.
Your social media posts can link back to WeAreCommunityPowered.com as well as to your own website.
- Ask your customers to share
Ask your customers to share what “Community Powered” means to them. You can order window stickers to distribute to your commercial customers to display in their place of business. You can also encourage residential and business customers to post on their own social media channels about what it means to live in a public power community, using #CommunityPowered. Instagram and Twitter posts using this hashtag will be entered into weekly drawings with prizes from the American Public Power Association.
- Plug messages on your website, newsletter, bill stuffers, etc.
Download and use the web badge, infographic, and other materials on the Utility Resources section of the campaign website on your website, newsletters, bill stuffers, and other regular marketing and communication channels. Consider including messages from your utility leaders on how they serve the community. You can also order magnets to put on your utility trucks. If you plan to do newspaper ads, radio announcements, or TV spots and want some materials to use, email us to find out how we can help.
- Involve your utility and community leaders
Ask your mayor and your city council or board members as well as other community leaders (from the chamber of commerce, schools, law enforcement, and other community institutions) and key influencers to post on their social media channels why they are proud to live and serve in a public power community. Remind them to use #CommunityPowered.
- Reach out to local media
Connect with your local papers, TV and radio stations to tell them about the campaign and your utility’s role in the community. We have some sample press releases and op-eds for you on the Utility Resources section of the campaign website.
- Plan a community outreach event
Consider community outreach through an open house, volunteering, or holiday event. Or you can also support events that are already happening in your community such as a holiday parade or ball game. Use the opportunity to talk to your customers and hand out information about Community Powered and the unique benefits your utility offers to the community. The Association plans to hold a webinar in October with more information on community events. See the slides from our Oct 24 webinar with ideas and tips for planning an event in your community.
- Get and distribute materials
If you want to liven up your campaign outreach, you can order Community Powered t-shirts, capes, and stickers. Instructions and templates can be found on the Utility Resources section of the campaign website.