Legislative Conference is a Must for Communicators

By Lydia Walters 

Early in my career, a CEO I worked for recognized it was important for me, as a communicator, to attend the NRECA Legislative Conference. After attending numerous Legislative Conferences and seeing the benefits, I feel strongly that communicators should be included because it is invaluable to communicating cooperative and energy-related issues.

First and foremost, the Monday agenda for the Legislative Conference includes forums, breakout sessions, and an in-depth legislative briefing. As you know, it is a challenge for communicators to be knowledgeable on so many diverse topics in the electric power industry. This one day is critical to gaining knowledge on legislative issues and understanding the cooperative perspective and stance on each of issue, so we are communicating consistently across the nation. Also, the materials provided at the Legislative Conference are useful throughout the year.

Visits with your state’s Congressional delegation round out the remainder of the Legislative Conference. This fun, yet tiring day or two, helps you build relationships with the members of Congress and their staff. In particular, meeting key staff members is an important benefit of the conference because communicators are often the contacts between state and federal governmental officials and the cooperative.

I encourage you, as certified communicators, to talk to your CEOs about attending the Legislative Conference. Your attendance will pay dividends in broadening your knowledge of energy related issues, understanding the cooperative stance, and building relationships with Congressional members and their staff, ultimately strengthening your cooperative’s connections with its members.

The Legislative Conference is scheduled for April 8-19, 2018, in Washington, D.C. I hope to see you there!

NRECA Annual Meeting Offers Co-op Communicators Access to National Organizations and Issues

By Nell McCauley

As a communicator, how many articles have you written about the importance of attending your cooperative’s annual meeting? Have you ever given any thought to why you should attend the NRECA Annual Meeting/Tech Advantage?

I was given the opportunity to attend the NRECA Annual Meeting/TechAdvantage as a young communicator, and it provided me with great insight into our cooperative world. At the time, I believed I had a good grasp of how large the copperative network was and how many people cooperatives touch after particiapting in the New Communicators Orientation. Attending that meeting helped me understand the alphabet soup of arcronyms and put faces with names of the national organizations. In fact, I learned that a number of national co-op organizations hold their annual meetings in conjunction with NRECA’s, including CFC, NRTC, Federated Insurance and Touchstone Energy. This opportunity to attend the national meetings put all the pieces together for me.

I suspect many of my fellow communications peers are visual learners like me, and being able to particpate in the national meeting brought home the history and importance of our industry.

As communicators, we are asked to be “always on,” and with rapid changes in operational and communicaton techonologies, this changes the way co-ops to connect with their members and communties they serve.

As communicators, we are often considered key staff and are granted a seat at the table during important events to enable the relay of key information to both internal and extrenal audiences. In this era of readily available information through a variety of technology or media sources, the question “Why attend conferences?” is being asked more frequently along with “Why should the cooperative send their communicator?”

The “Always On” report stresses the importance of CEOs ensuring their communicators are given the tools they need to achive undertanding of our industry. I highly recommend attending the NRECA Annual Meeting/TechAdvantage as another excellent tool in your tool kit. This opportunity will help the communicator understand key issues our industry is facing and the postion we are taking. Communicators can help anticpate member issues and develop strategies for communicating the cooperative’s perspective while addressing peer and member concerns.

The NRECA Annual Meeting is an annual event that cultivates collaboration among the entire cooperative community and encourages exploration of issues facing our industry.