Susan Simmons, CCC, CKAE, Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp.

Recently, the Certified Cooperative Communicator’s board of directors requested assistance from the market research department at NRECA to survey current Certified Cooperative Communicators (CCCs), non Certified Cooperative Communicators and all chief executive officers and senior management throughout the cooperative world regarding awareness, perception, value and obstacles to the CCC program. A total of 3,750 surveys were sent with 687 surveys returned — an 18.3 percent return rate.

The overall program received a grade of “B” or better with the highest grades being given to:

  • Identifying a body of knowledge and skills necessary to the practice of electric cooperative communication (A-); and
  • Improving the practice of communication in the electric cooperative field by establishing professional development goals (B+).

More than 50 percent say becoming a CCC has led to greater confidence and the ability to work at a higher level as well as connecting them to a network of CCC peers.

The survey also confirmed that, while the CCC program has solid awareness that it can build upon, opportunity exists for improvement during and after the certification process. For example:

  • CCCs are earning the certifications for themselves – not for promotion, recognition or raise;
  • The Mentor Program needs to be expanded;
  • Biggest obstacle to obtaining a CCC certification is fear of failing;
  • Body of Knowledge (BOK) is perceived as “outdated”;
  • Post-certification training opportunities to further CCC knowledge were regularly mentioned as adding value to the certification;
  • Reasons for maintaining the CCC certification include gaining professional recognition and credibility as well as furthering professional growth and development.

A key opportunity exists with CEOs and senior management. Comments from both CCCs and non CCC’s indicate a need to better inform CEOs and senior management regarding the value and benefits of the CCC designation. A lack of support by leadership is commonly mentioned in the verbatim comments and is seen as key to improving the perception of the program.

Because of this survey, a targeted effort to recruit and expand the Mentor Program occurred in the fourth quarter of 2015. Many of you agreed to add your name to the mentor list and we thank you for your willingness to help.

NRECA’s Education and Training Department will continue to seek a better understanding of the program’s perceived value as well as the obstacles/challenges you’ve indicated such as the time commitment, difficulty, etc. to ensure marketing materials target these specific areas.

Additionally, the ability to manage updates to the BOK will become easier with the new site. now offers more than 80 percent of all needed resources at little or no charge and can be easily downloaded for convenience. NRECA’s new Communication Toolkit is available online and will be added to the BOK.

Post-certification training opportunities will also be evaluated by the Education and Training Department and your board to see where partnerships and development make sense.

Finally, the board is working to develop a new recognition program for active CCCs based upon your survey feedback.

While there is work to be done, the board has heard your comments and feels the necessary information to improve and develop the CCC program is certainly available. We sincerely thank you for your participation and look forward to reporting continued program developments over the coming months.