By: Anne Prince, NRECA
NRECA is committed to helping its member cooperatives communicate effectively on behalf of their consumer-members and their cooperative organizations. Thoughtful planning is an essential first step in enabling co-ops to stay close to the interests of their members while helping co-op management achieve its operational goals. To this end, the NRECA Communication Department recently led an effort to develop a communication toolkit that is now available on Cooperative.com.
Member Driven, Member Created
The toolkit was created in response to member needs and requests. Results of a member survey guided the direction, structure and content. It was developed in conjunction with the CREC (a member advisory committee comprised of a representative sampling of co-op communicators), NRECA communication staff and consultant Jody Severson. Several CCC communicators participated on the committee and CCC communicators along with a small group of volunteers beta tested the toolkit and provided valuable feedback. The toolkit officially launched at the end of the summer of 2015 and in November, there was a webinar on the toolkit through the Co-op CLASS (Communicators Learning and Sharing Successes) series. NRECA Member Communication Manager, Anne Prince, CREC Member Keith Stapleton, of Sam Houston Electric Cooperative, and Communication Consultant Jody Severson hosted the webinar.
Designed for Flexibility
The toolkit is designed with flexibility in mind. No one section depends on the other. There are two tables of contents that link to the same material while using different approaches. The Step-by-Step Table of Contents takes communicators through the toolkit in the order one would follow to create a plan from scratch. The Detailed Table of Contents contains a listing of specific topic areas along with ideas and examples for each section so communicators with existing plans can go straight to the areas they most want to strengthen.
What’s in the Toolkit?
Draft language, brainstorming exercises, templates, resource links and a library of Ideas and Examples are just some of the content contained in the toolkit. The bulk of the toolkit consists of Microsoft Word documents (and a few optional Excel files) that are already filled out with the contents of a basic communication plan. Communicators can download and edit them to suit their local situations. They can keep the examples that are useful and add their own creative thinking.
This planning toolkit is divided into seven major sections to help communicators accomplish their goals:
- Making a Basic Plan
- Figuring Out What to Say
- Figuring Out How to Deliver the Message
- Winning Internal Support, Employee Cooperation and Approval from the CEO
- Budget Planning
- Planning for Outages and Emergencies
- Upgrading Our Communication Capabilities
There are also links to content on Cooperative.com, especially in the Str?aight Talk and Best Pra?ctices sections?. Numerous ideas and examples are provided by co-ops in each section. In fact, co-op communicators are encouraged to submit ideas and examples from their own work to build out the Library of Ideas and Examples.
Additional NRECA Communication Resources
The communication toolkit is the most recent addition to the plethora of communication resources available to communicators across the co-op nation. Other resources include:
- Cooperative.com (Communication Interest Area)
- New Co-op Communicator Orientation
- CONNECT Conference
- NRECA Communication Resource Guide
- Straight Talk
- Co-op “CLASS” webinars
- RE Magazine
- Washington News Briefing
- Week in Review – PR/Media team
For additional information about the communication toolkit and other communication resources contact Anne.Prince@nreca.coop.