I’ve worked in digital marketing for almost 13 years and have always preached “content is king” to clients, emphasizing the importance of compelling content distributed via social media, email, newsletters, and blogs. However, I find it funny that I, myself, have never actually created content for a blog … until now. It’s also funny that the reason for this blog post is to promote a report we just published … on blogs: Why Utilities Tell Their Stories Through Owned-Content Sites (available with certain E Source memberships).

Interesting fact: The term blog was coined by Peter Merholz in 1999 after breaking up the word weblog (first used by Jorn Barger to describe “logging the web”) into “we blog” on his site.

How many utilities have a blog, and what do they write about?

We asked the utility industry, “Do we blog?” and if so, “Why do we blog?” According to our 2018 Social Media Survey results, 41% of utilities maintain a blog, but 47% don’t and aren’t planning to start. So for those who do blog, what are the goals and how does maintaining a high-quality blog positively impact a utility’s brand?

The first thing we learned is that utilities don’t necessarily call their blog a blog. Xcel Energy’s Connect is a blog but Southern California Edison’s (SCE’s) Inside Edison is referred to internally as a branded journalism site. Others position theirs as a news site, such as Alabama Power’s NewsCenter and TVA’s Newsroom. At E Source, we’ve termed all of these as “owned-content sites” for clarity.

We also learned that utilities blog for a variety of reasons—to improve brand perception, strengthen community relations, engage with the media, and boost employee engagement—but the one thing they all have in common is to tell a story.

“Don’t underestimate the art of storytelling. We’re all human and we want to be touched by stories. If your utility does a lot of good things, you can highlight that through ‘newsy’ storytelling.” —Caroline Aoyagi-Stom, SCE

What should your utility write about?

So what makes a compelling story? The simple answer is: anything only you can tell. For utilities, that means letting your audience peek behind the curtain to see how your company’s making a difference, through its employees and within the community. Readers want to know what their utility’s doing to make their lives better and how those efforts benefit society and the environment.

And if “content is king,” then consider the channels for content promotion—social media, email, and newsletters—your royal couriers. A compelling owned-content post doesn’t serve its purpose without readers, so utilities must regularly cross promote across multiple channels to get the message to the masses.

For more information, members of the E Source Corporate Communications Service can read our report Why Utilities Tell Their Stories Through Owned-Content Sites. It provides interviews with SCE, Xcel Energy, Alabama Power, Tennessee Valley Authority, APS, and KCP&L, as well as strategies for writing authentic content that drives readership.

To hear from communications professionals in person, you can attend the session “Wake Up to the Branding Opportunities of a High-Quality Company Blog” at our annual E Source Forum, to be held September 25 through 28, 2018, in Denver, Colorado.

Contributing Authors

Analyst, Marketing and Communications

Jessica is an analyst on the Marketing and Communications research team at E Source and has 12 years of digital marketing and public...