Solari e-News, Vol. 3, No. 17: Communicating with your stakeholders is critical to your success as a utility.


Communicating with Stakeholders

Your stakeholders are busy: you must get to your point immediately, or risk losing them entirely.

Getting to your point first is critically important with plans, reports, studies, and other technical-based publications created by electric utilities and energy industry consultants. It’s too easy to get mired in the details of your technical expertise and effort and, as a result, bury your “headline”.

Your readers, however, want to know your results first, and how you arrived at them second.

Getting to the point first not only starts your narrative fast—and thus captures your readers—but also enables you to state and control your message as you want it understood and repeated.

In addition, your reports must not only inform, but also instruct and persuade. (These are the three methods of communication.) Too many energy-industry publications focus only on informing, and fail to instruct and persuade. “But this isn’t training or marketing” you might think. And you’d be correct. Except that a certain amount of information must be explained (instructed) for your readers to fully understand; and a certain amount of information must be promoted (persuaded) for your readers to get on board, and to support your methods, results, conclusions, and recommendations.

How you communicate becomes more straightforward the better you understand your readers and their motivations. It’s paramount that you communicate on their level. For utility stakeholder engagement and other public discourse, your readers—your audiences—are generally known on a macro level: commercial stakeholders focus on business needs; organizations follow mission statements; regulatory and legislative bodies adhere to statute. Individual stakeholders have their own personal motivations. On a micro (read: individual) level, motivations are best unearthed through personal discourse. In other words, talk to them.

And that’s the best communication of all.

[Note: My recent presentation, “Communicating with IRP Stakeholders”, that I gave at the March 2017 EUCI IRP Summit, addresses these points in depth. Download the slides here.

Challenging Communication Issues:
A Survey

In the energy industry, communication encompasses many avenues. Your printed communication—reports, plans, studies, and other publications—are critical, if only because they have a long shelf life. Yet, other communication issues are also critical to your success. What are they? Please complete this short, one-question survey.

Click here to send your responses in an email.