Sample Utility Communications Plan


SAMPLE UTILITY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN

SITUATION ANALYSIS

Water utilities have a mandate and duty to provide safe drinking water to their communities.

The effective and consistent delivery of safe water requires aggressive programs to protect sources of supply, regular investments to replace and renew infrastructure to enhance water quality and service delivery, as well as diligent treatment operations. In order to accomplish these multiple goals, more funds must be collected from customers than is currently provided under the existing rate structure. 

Therefore, the long term key to financial viability and public health protection and safety, is to acquire public support by communicating with local media and stakeholders, and making them partners in a safe community water supply. This communications program is designed to gain the support of utility’s stakeholders.


OBJECTIVES
  • Gain the support of the political body, customers and other stakeholders to enable the utility to successfully increase rates to provide the funds for additional investments needed to renew its aging infrastructure.
  • Communicate the benefits the new infrastructure will provide to customers in terms of improved water quality and enhanced service delivery.
  • Provide the necessary communication support to allow for the successful increase in water service rates.

TARGET AUDIENCES
  • Customers
  • Utility staff
  • Service clubs (volunteer community leaders)
  • Youth (future customers; influence current customers)
  • Professional organizations
  • Media (all local only; section PAC will address State/Provincial/Territorial outlets)
  • Public advocacy groups
  • Elected & appointed government officials

CORE MESSAGES
  • Refer to section modified Core Messages to suit specific State/Provincial/Territorial issues
  • Adapt the Core Messages to suit local issues and needs
  • Always use the words “public health” as part of your message. Use phrases like “drinking water is a public health issue” or “for public health and safety” to emphasize and make relevant your core messages.

MODES OF DELIVERY
  • Designate and train utility spokesperson
  • Generate news stories in the local broadcast and print media to communicate key messages
  • Meet with editorial boards to generate favorable editorials on issues
  • Direct mail with customers to communicate key messages
  • Place advertisements in the local newspapers outlining the issue, benefits to customers, etc.
  • Modify section generic speeches to suit specific local audience/groups and generate speaking engagements
  • Modify section talking points and core messages to suit local issues
  • Brief elected officials in one-on-one or small group meetings
  • Create a section Consumer Water Center on utility and/or section website, with link to DrinkTap.org.
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