While no one was really prepared for a 100-year winter storm to hit Texas, we were positioned to act quickly.
See How We Provided Crisis Support For NEC Co-Op Energy In February 2021.
MDR and NEC Co-op Energy are both local Corpus Christi companies affected by the winter storm. During the freeze, our team members monitored NEC Co-op’s social media as best we could with regular power/internet service interruptions.
As everyone was getting back online we noted a dramatic increase in customer concerns, questions and comments.
Our team followed news outlets to stay on top of the growing electricity grid issues. We soon learned that providers like Griddy Energy were facing major fallout and price spikes with their wholesale and variable pricing structures; we also zoned in on what the PUCT, ERCOT and AEP were communicating.
We shared our learnings with the client, and they provided some positive operational feedback that we could share with customers. We jumped into action immediately to develop customer messaging.
We soon developed an informed statement that would help our members better understand what was happening and how they would and would not be affected.
We shared this information on social media, sent a customer email, and posted it on the NEC Co-op Energy website. These swift communications provided immediate relief to the growing customer concerns.
We provided direction and web support daily updating site info and FAQs page.
We discussed the possibility of pausing all advertising. After weighing the pros and cons, we determined not to pause any media since it was currently top of mind and consumers could be actively searching for better alternatives. Plus, our messaging was on target with copy positioning us as transparent and honest.
With our message in place, we reached out to local media outlets to help set up news interviews. We helped craft speaking points and recommended what should be shared on social. The segment was featured as a top story, allowing NEC to not only clear up any misconceptions and calm fears, but also to educate consumers further on the benefits of a cooperative.
We continued to stay on top of information from PUCT, MRECA, etc. in regards to what may be happening with rates, as well as with providers going out of business and how being a Provider of Last Resort could impact NEC Co-op Energy. We crafted additional FAQs to mitigate any customer concerns.
As a proactive measure, we developed and launched a social media campaign and customer email around a “rate stability” message. See examples below:
Industry peers took notice, giving kudos to NEC Co-op via LinkedIn—saying this communication plan “set the precedent” for co-ops statewide. The communication team was also nationally recognized by Touchstone Energy, an alliance composed of 750 co-ops in 46 states, representing 30 million members. Through collaboration with NEC Co-op Energy leadership and the MDR team, we were able to successfully navigate the unprecedented crisis.