By Jerri Imgarten, Manager of Marketing & Communications for The Victory Electric Cooperative Association, Inc.
This article is part of a series highlighting winning Spotlight on Excellence entries. We hope to capture the spirit of an entry and inspire others to submit their work in the Spotlight on Excellence Awards contest.
For Central Electric Cooperative in Stillwater, Oklahoma, a new headquarters came with a new look for the cooperative. For more than 75 years, the cooperative was known to the membership as Central Rural Electric Cooperative, and a total rebranding effort was launched to represent the future direction of the 20,000-member cooperative.
“The communications department was tasked with presenting the new brand not only to members, but also to those in the surrounding area,” said Larry Mattox, Central Electric Cooperative director of communications. “It had to be done in a way that reassured the membership we were still the same cooperative they came to love over the 75-plus years.”
In the rebranding efforts, “Rural” was dropped from the cooperative’s name, and the communication staff’s objective was to create marketing materials highlighting the cooperative’s new name and logo, while adding context to the rebranding. Central Electric Cooperative earned a 2017 Gold Spotlight on Excellence Award in the Best Individual Ad category for their design of a rebranding advertisement.
“Members thought our new look was very professional and updated,” Mattox said. “The biggest challenge was to write the copy so it didn’t look like we were putting down the word ‘rural’. We wanted to emphasize that we are still proud of our rural heritage, but Central Electric Cooperative is so much more than just rural electricity now.”
The message created for the winning ad was used throughout the rebranding campaign, including newsletter, website and the annual meeting materials. Mattox said Central Electric Cooperative received very good feedback, and members were impressed with the updated and professional look.
“Each year we enter Spotlights, but we never take for granted that we will win,” he said. “Many cooperatives are doing such great work that the Spotlights are very competitive, so it is an honor when we receive an award.”
Mattox encouraged other communicators to submit entries, even if it seems like a long shot to win. They have found pieces they didn’t think had a chance of winning do really well and something they thought was a sure bet might not even place.
“If it is something you’re proud of, then you should enter it,” he said.
The Certified Cooperative Communicator program has been an instrumental tool in helping Central Electric Cooperative prepare for the Spotlight contest.
“Each year, CCCs are required to attend trainings to earn Continuing Education Units,” Mattox said. “These trainings are important to keep brushed up on communications practices essential to winning Spotlight awards. I think our communications department is stronger because of the CCC program.”
Don’t forget you can now view the Spotlight on Excellence Award entries on cooperative.com. The 2017 winning entries are expected to be available on cooperative.com in May.