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COMMUNICATIONS CHECKUP: ASSESSING A UTILITY'S COMMUNICATIONS PROGRAM THROUGH BENCHMARKING AND ANALYSIS

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Abstract:

Water and wastewater utility managers have enough to contend with just running a utility on a daily basis, even as they try to get ahead of ever-changing regulations, meet capacity needs, maintain infrastructure, and explain rate increases, not to mention dealing with the internal aspects of operations such as employee relations. Explaining all of this and creating a recognizable presence in the community sometimes takes a low priority in a organization's overall scheme of things. Or it may seem too overwhelming to a utility that's resources are already stretched thin. But as the public expects more and more information from its service providers, communications can complement many of the facets of utility operations and often make them possible, e.g. explaining and passing a rate increase tied to infrastructure improvements. More and more utility managers are realizing that making sure a positive message gets through isn't just for the business world. Because many utilities already have some type of communications pieces in place (such as a brochure, web site, bill stuffer, etc.), a beneficial starting point is a careful examination of the impact of their external communications efforts. This paper documents how one utility, Mount Pleasant Waterworks (SC), underwent a thorough external communications assessment using best management practices of benchmarking and analysis to sharpen its existing communications program.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864705783857126

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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