Dear utilities, please learn from our country’s diminishing reputation.

Utility SunriseAmerica is getting hammered in the media.  Whether you read it in today's New York Times, "Running Out of Time", or today's Wall Street Journal opinion piece, "Ignoring Inequality", our major media are playing their role in hammering the American reputation, America's brand value.  It’s easy for us to see the diminished value of America abroad, what’s not as easy is to see it right here at home.  This challenge for our country is also a challenge for every business.  America and our businesses must speak out more forcefully.  If we don't do it, no one else will.  We live in a culture where minority voices can wreak havoc on our business.  And this is especially true for you, our utilities, and other energy-related companies. You continue to support your brand "from behind".We see how well this is turning out for America. Maybe it’s time to rethink this strategy for our businesses. Maybe it’s time to step up as the energy leaders that you are.  For decades, utilities have been reacting to the loudest voice in the room.  And this loud voice not only gets your attention but it also gets the attention of the regulators and the media.  Just weigh the positive media against the negative media on issues such as gas drilling, new pipeline permitting, oil transportation or electric rates.  Actually, just try to find the positive on any of these issues in our mainstream media outlets. It would be like looking for that needle in the haystack.

It’s time to step up and tell your side of the story.  And there are endless stories to be sharing, stories that will fill your brand value cup.  Stories that told often enough will create a strong brand value in the hearts and minds of your customers, and help the brand withstand those hits, which are all too common in our world.

For this story telling to increase brand value, you have to lose your fear of controversy.  Whether it is an energy efficiency story about making customers’ lives better, easier, healthier, and helping the world or creating greater awareness on the safety programming underway in an ever-changing climate of bigger and bigger storms or reminding us of the basics of electricity.  These are all valuable stories.  These are all stories that need to be pushed out to customers.

Many of these stories already exist on your websites.  The challenge is your customers have no reason to go to your site and gather this information.  Be more aggressive in telling these stories across social media, and do so with greater consistency.  Increase your PR efforts and event participation. (And by participation, we don’t just mean sponsoring a ball team at a ballpark; we mean taking the opportunity to tell your brand story through the ball team atthe ball park.) Improving brand value is a commitment.  Increasing efforts today will realize positive outcomes in both the short term and the long term.

Now, if only America could follow suit...