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Marketing your water utility to the community

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Water utilities typically have a monopoly on their local markets, but they face budgetary and regulatory challenges that make it just as important for them to perform community outreach and marketing as though they face tough head-to-head competition. Reaching out to the community can lead to better engagement, more-informed customers, and higher satisfaction for all.

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Marketing your water utility to the community

  1. 1. Marketing Your Water Utility to the Community Brian Gongol DJ Gongol & Associates, Inc. March 29, 2017 Iowa WEA Region 5 Newton, Iowa
  2. 2. Your three major audiences
  3. 3. Schoolchildren
  4. 4. Mass media
  5. 5. Ratepayers
  6. 6. Why schoolchildren?  Influence their parents
  7. 7. Why schoolchildren?  Influence their parents  Need jobs later
  8. 8. Why schoolchildren?  Influence their parents  Need jobs later  Become ratepayers
  9. 9. Why mass media?
  10. 10. Why mass media?  Influence public opinion
  11. 11. Why mass media?  Influence public opinion  Help shape disaster response
  12. 12. Why mass media?  Influence public opinion  Help shape disaster response  Reach people more often than you do
  13. 13. Why ratepayers?
  14. 14. Why ratepayers? Vote on bond referenda
  15. 15. Why ratepayers?  Vote on bond referenda  May decide your independence
  16. 16. Why ratepayers?  Vote on bond referenda  May decide your independence  Complain
  17. 17. Why ratepayers?  Vote on bond referenda  May decide your independence  Complain  Are the reason utilities exist
  18. 18. Major audience #1: Schoolkids
  19. 19. Reaching elementary schoolchildren  Classroom talks
  20. 20. Elementary school talks  How water and wastewater systems connect a community
  21. 21. Elementary school talks Water scarcity and conservation
  22. 22. Elementary school talks  The water cycle
  23. 23. Elementary school talks  Jobs in the water sector
  24. 24. Elementary school talks  Water around the world
  25. 25. Reaching elementary schoolchildren  Classroom talks  Earth Day and Children's Water Festivals
  26. 26. Reaching elementary schoolchildren  Classroom talks  Earth Day and Children's Water Festivals  Plant tours
  27. 27. Reaching elementary schoolchildren  Classroom talks  Earth Day and Children's Water Festivals  Plant tours  Community tours (and parades)
  28. 28. Reaching elementary schoolchildren Science classrooms and demonstrations
  29. 29. Reaching junior high students  Explain the chemistry
  30. 30. Reaching junior high students  Explain the chemistry  Explain the economics
  31. 31. Reaching junior high students  Explain the chemistry  Explain the economics  Explain the physics
  32. 32. Reaching junior high students  Explain the chemistry  Explain the economics  Explain the physics  Offer job shadowing
  33. 33. Reaching junior high students  Explain the chemistry  Explain the economics  Explain the physics  Offer job shadowing  Reach out to counselors
  34. 34. Reaching junior high students  Explain the chemistry  Explain the economics  Explain the physics  Offer job shadowing  Reach out to counselors  Give service clubs something to do
  35. 35. Reaching high school students  Classroom talks
  36. 36. High school talks  From the ballot box to your tap
  37. 37. High school talks  From the ballot box to your tap  Dump your oil, poison a fish
  38. 38. High school talks  From the ballot box to your tap  Dump your oil, poison a fish  Broadband Internet through the sewer
  39. 39. High school talks  From the ballot box to your tap  Dump your oil, poison a fish  Broadband Internet through the sewer  Five diseases Americans don't get anymore
  40. 40. High school talks  From the ballot box to your tap  Dump your oil, poison a fish  Broadband Internet through the sewer  Five diseases Americans don't get anymore  Five civilizations that died of thirst
  41. 41. High school talks  From the ballot box to your tap  Dump your oil, poison a fish  Broadband Internet through the sewer  Five diseases Americans don't get anymore  Five civilizations that died of thirst  Before Evian and Aquafina, we exported water
  42. 42. High school talks  From the ballot box to your tap  Dump your oil, poison a fish  Broadband Internet through the sewer  Five diseases Americans don't get anymore  Five civilizations that died of thirst  Before Evian and Aquafina, we exported water  Bottled water is tap water, too
  43. 43. Reaching high school students  Classroom talks  Internships
  44. 44. High school internships  Lab assistants
  45. 45. High school internships  Lab assistants  GIS
  46. 46. High school internships  Lab assistants  GIS  Websites
  47. 47. High school internships  Lab assistants  GIS  Websites  Graphic designers
  48. 48. High school internships  Lab assistants  GIS  Websites  Graphic designers  Shop class
  49. 49. High school internships  Lab assistants  GIS  Websites  Graphic designers  Shop class  Institutional memory records
  50. 50. Reaching high school students  Classroom talks  Internships  Service projects
  51. 51. Reaching high school students  Classroom talks  Internships  Service projects  Facility tours
  52. 52. Facility tours Show people what they're paying for
  53. 53. Facility tours  Show people what they're paying for  Turn "capital projects" and "CDBG grants" into something they can see and touch
  54. 54. Facility tours Is the plant a cathedral to public service?
  55. 55. Facility tours  Show people what they're paying for  Turn "capital projects" and "CDBG grants" into something they can see and touch  Is the plant a cathedral to public service?  Show (don't tell) why equipment, maintenance, and security investments matter
  56. 56. Facility tours  Show people what they're paying for  Turn "capital projects" and "CDBG grants" into something they can see and touch  Is the plant a cathedral to public service?  Show (don't tell) why equipment, maintenance, and security investments matter  If security issues preclude tours, how about video?
  57. 57. Reaching high school students  Classroom talks  Internships  Service projects  Facility tours  Last chance to teach the water cycle
  58. 58. Questions?
  59. 59. Major audience #2: Mass media
  60. 60. Influencing the mass media Emergencies
  61. 61. Influencing the mass media  Emergencies  Rates, fees, and regulations
  62. 62. Influencing the mass media  Emergencies  Rates, fees, and regulations  Goodwill
  63. 63. Plan for emergencies  Build a list of contacts in the media
  64. 64. Plan for emergencies  Build a list of contacts in the media  Have a clear public face
  65. 65. Plan for emergencies  Build a list of contacts in the media  Have a clear public face  Have an emergency communications plan
  66. 66. Plan for emergencies  Build a list of contacts in the media  Have a clear public face  Have an emergency communications plan  Have an online presence
  67. 67. Plan for emergencies  Build a list of contacts in the media  Have a clear public face  Have an emergency communications plan  Have an online presence  Have a backup online presence
  68. 68. The case for Twitter
  69. 69. Mass media in ordinary times  Create value for reporters
  70. 70. A typical inbox full of story pitches
  71. 71. Mass media in ordinary times  Create value for reporters  Offer novel stories
  72. 72. Mass media in ordinary times  Create value for reporters  Offer novel stories  Offer human-interest stories
  73. 73. Mass media in ordinary times  Create value for reporters  Offer novel stories  Offer human-interest stories  Educate
  74. 74. Mass media in ordinary times  Create value for reporters  Offer novel stories  Offer human-interest stories  Educate  Remember: Perception trumps facts
  75. 75. Stories any reporter can tell  "Jeanette, do my job!"
  76. 76. Stories any reporter can tell  "Jeanette, do my job!"  The day the kids came to visit
  77. 77. Stories any reporter can tell  "Jeanette, do my job!"  The day the kids came to visit  Your over-fertilized lawn (or field) is hurting babies
  78. 78. Stories any reporter can tell  "Jeanette, do my job!"  The day the kids came to visit  Your over-fertilized lawn (or field) is hurting babies  The drain isn't a hazardous-waste dump
  79. 79. Stories any reporter can tell  "Jeanette, do my job!"  The day the kids came to visit  Your over-fertilized lawn (or field) is hurting babies  The drain isn't a hazardous-waste dump  The great halftime flush
  80. 80. Stories any reporter can tell  "Jeanette, do my job!"  The day the kids came to visit  Your over-fertilized lawn (or field) is hurting babies  The drain isn't a hazardous-waste dump  The great halftime flush  It's not a water tower, it's an insurance policy
  81. 81. Lather, rinse, repeat  A good story shouldn't become a one-time fling -- you want an ongoing affair
  82. 82. Questions?
  83. 83. Major audience #3: Ratepayers
  84. 84. Reaching your ratepayers  Customer service
  85. 85. Customer service Put front-line customer service first
  86. 86. Customer service  Put front-line customer service first  Add 5% to make it great
  87. 87. Customer service  Put front-line customer service first  Add 5% to make it great  Dealing with hostile customers
  88. 88. Customer service Brand everything
  89. 89. Why branding matters
  90. 90. Reaching your ratepayers  Customer service  Community presence
  91. 91. Community presence  Who is your Elmo?
  92. 92. Community presence Hit the streets -- be visible
  93. 93. Community presence Keep up appearances
  94. 94. Community presence  Who is your Elmo?  Hit the streets -- be visible  Keep up appearances  Who owns this place?
  95. 95. Reaching your ratepayers  Customer service  Community presence  Ratepayer education
  96. 96. Ratepayer education  Bill inserts
  97. 97. Ratepayer education  Bill inserts  Newsletters
  98. 98. Ratepayer education  Bill inserts  Newsletters  Websites
  99. 99. Ratepayer education  Bill inserts  Newsletters  Websites  Q&A
  100. 100. Reaching your ratepayers  Customer service  Community presence  Ratepayer education  Informative outreach
  101. 101. Informative outreach Hit the lunch-speaker circuit
  102. 102. Informative outreach  Hit the lunch-speaker circuit  Service clubs
  103. 103. Informative outreach  Hit the lunch-speaker circuit  Service clubs  Outdoor and sporting clubs
  104. 104. Informative outreach  Hit the lunch-speaker circuit  Service clubs  Outdoor and sporting clubs  Water for People
  105. 105. To recap  Schoolkids: Talk to their parents and become future ratepayers and employees. Educate them.
  106. 106. To recap  Schoolkids: Talk to their parents and become future ratepayers and employees. Educate them.  News media: Influence public opinion. Make friends (and plans) well before you need them.
  107. 107. To recap  Schoolkids: Talk to their parents and become future ratepayers and employees. Educate them.  News media: Influence public opinion. Make friends (and plans) well before you need them.  Ratepayers: Our customers and the people who decide whether we have the resources we need. Inform and treat them with respect to earn reciprocal respect for your utility.
  108. 108. Questions?
  109. 109. Thank you for coming! Brian Gongol DJ Gongol & Associates brian@gongol.net 515-223-4144 Twitter: @djgongol facebook.com/djgongol

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