High West Energy Wins 2016 Best Event Spotlight for Western Themed Branding Party

This article is the beginning 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 Award contest.

What better way to unveil a new headquarters expansion than have a party that embraces the area’s heritage and traditions? Pine Bluffs, Wyoming-based High West Energy, a 6,500-meter distribution cooperative, recently hosted a Spotlight Award winning event featuring a chuck wagon dinner, live music and a branding party.

“Our region is known for its western heritage, open range and cattle ranches,” said event coordinator and High West Energy public relations and marketing manager Lorrell Walter. “Branding parties are common in the spring months, and ranchers will gather their friends and family to brand the year’s calves and enjoy food and fellowship with one another. The branding party was a way to engage members in a way that resonated with the members of our community.”

The walls of High West Energy’s headquarters were once adorned with cattle brands that had been pressed into the walls many decades ago. The decision was made to modernize the building and remove the particle board walls, but they didn't want to lose the heritage represented by those brands.

“We decided to save the boards and re-purpose them into art pieces,” Walter explained. “It was also an opportunity to update the number of brands in our office to engage more cooperative members.”

More than 500 brands have been registered in High West Energy’s service territory. Walter cross-referenced their member list with the brand books in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska, and used that list to send a branding party invitation to those members with registered brands.

The event was open to all High West Energy members, but they targeted those with registered brands. For recordkeeping purposes, brand holders were asked to complete an entry in a guestbook to capture important information about the brand.

“We felt the event was an overwhelming success with 350 attendees and 87 brands,” Walter said. “The initial idea for a branding party was half-jokingly suggested by our operations manager, and we just took the idea and ran with it.”

The Silver Award for Best Event was Walter’s first entry in the Spotlight Award contest. She encourages others to take a look at their body of work and submit an entry. As a first time entrant, Walter struggled to explain the intimate details of the event in words -- especially describing “branding” to someone not familiar with branding and ranching. To accomplish this, she relied on photos to illustrate the "flavor" of the event.

“My best advice is to ask several people to review your entry, and preferably those who don't know much about your organization or communications,” Walter said. “Having an outside eye on your entry can help you be more sensitive to things that don't make sense or aren't easily understood by those who do what we do on a daily basis.”

After having one entry under her belt, Walter is in the process of reviewing her work with a goal of winning a Gold Award in 2017.

You can view the Spotlight on Excellence Award entries on cooperative.com.