Internal and external communication professionals in the utility industry face a variety of challenges in supporting their organizations’ strategic plans, particularly as the utility workforce undergoes significant transformation, communication channels multiply, and utilities face increasing competition. This semiannual forum provides a unique, collaborative space for leaders in corporate communications to discuss these challenges and communications best practices. Recent topics of discussion include executive communications strategy, communicating with employees in the field, crisis communication, branding for employee recruitment and onboarding, environmental stewardship communications, and resource mix communication strategies.
Energy company corporate communications senior leadership, including directors and managers.
Member: $199 USD
Registration includes virtual access to all agenda items and digital program materials.
12:30 PM - 1:00 PM
Virtual Help Desk + Technology Check
The room will open early with optional time for participants to get familiar with the virtual platform, test their audio and webcam, or ask questions about the agenda before we begin.
1:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Welcome + Opening Remarks
Speaker(s): Lindsay Hobson, Manager, Administrative Affairs and Communications, ENSTAR Natural Gas Company
Our Program Chair will welcome the group and share an overview of ENSTAR Natural Gas Company.
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Get to know your peers through our roundtable introductions. Come prepared to share your area of expertise and what you hope to take away from this meeting.
2:00 PM - 2:15 PM
2:15 PM - 3:30 PM
Public Safety Power Shutoffs: Best Practices for Communicators
Speaker(s): Andrew Heath, Managing Director, Utility Intelligence, J.D. Power and Associates, Todd Cahill, Director, Customer Care, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, Vanessa Bryan, Manager, Customer Engagement Strategy & Planning, Pacific Gas and Electric Company
As catastrophic wildfires burn more often throughout the West, the stakes grow higher for utilities and the communities they serve. That’s why utilities are turning toward public safety power shutoffs as best practice during extreme fire conditions. Communicators play a key role in educating their communities about what to expect, and preparing a solid communications plan to deploy on short notice.
3:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Grab your favorite beverage and snack and join us for an hour of conversation and networking.
8:15 AM - 9:00 AM
Crisis to Crisis: When and How We Tell Our Stories
Facilitator(s): Brian Edwards, Director of Corporate Communications, Washington Gas, Bernie Tylor, Manager of Media Relations, Washington Gas
2020 presented challenges in nearly every industry across the nation. As utilities, we were called on to respond to scenarios ranging from COVID-19 and protests following George Floyd’s death to federal legislation and grassroots campaigns aimed at eliminating fossil fuels. This discussion will reflect on our collective experiences approaching important but difficult topics as well as assessing trigger points for when to respond both publicly and to our employees.
9:00 AM - 9:15 AM
9:15 AM - 10:00 AM
NW Natural’s New Digital Portal: Transforming your Customers’ Online Experience
Speaker(s): Cory Beck, Sr. Manager Communications & User Experience, NW Natural
NW Natural’s new digital portal, launched in 2020, overhauled our key point of engagement with 760,000 customers. This project integrated a new customer website with a suite of technology and security improvements on the backend: Updated systems for online payment processing, billing and mailing, a revamped interactive voice response (IVR) phone system, and service order scheduling. Cory Beck, who oversaw the project, will share the development process and the critical role each step plays in ensuring a successful rollout: from planning and requirements, to design, build, testing and stabilization. He’ll also share tips on how to get buy-in from executive leadership, lessons learned, pitfalls to avoid, and a walk-through of the site and systems.
10:00 AM - 10:15 AM
10:15 AM - 11:20 AM
Breakout Sessions + Report Outs
Facilitator(s): Erica Shiflet, External Communications Leader, Idaho Power Company, Rachel Hansen, Senior Communications Strategist, Chelan County PUD, Dave Santen, Senior Writer, Corporate Communications, NW Natural, Jenny Levesque, External Communications Manager, Seattle City Light, Lindsay Hobson, Manager, Administrative Affairs and Communications, ENSTAR Natural Gas Company
This time is designated for small group discussion around a particular topic of interest. Attendees will have the opportunity to attend (2) 20-minute breakout sessions. At the conclusion of the breakout session, all attendees will reconvene to share initiatives and insights from their discussion. Each breakout session will be facilitated by a member of the Program Development Team. Topics include:
11:20 AM - 11:30 AM
11:30 AM - 12:15 PM
Open Roundtable Discussion + Wrap Up
Facilitator(s): Lindsay Hobson, Manager, Administrative Affairs and Communications, ENSTAR Natural Gas Company
This time is designated for an open roundtable discussion on current challenges and emerging issues. Topics will be generated by live polling. We will close out the meeting by discussing plans for Fall 2021.