After the votes were counted in November, Tennessee electric cooperatives had their work cut out for them: introduce the co-op model and objectives to nearly a third of the state legislature.
Thankfully, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association had a plan.
“This was a source of concern for us since these lawmakers have an enormous capacity to impact our co-ops,” said Trent Scott, vice president of corporate strategy at TECA, headquartered in Nashville.
“On behalf of our Tennessee co-ops, TECA wanted to help these new lawmakers understand who we are and what we do.”
The statewide launched an advertising campaign, dubbed Power & Opportunity, to educate the 27 freshman representatives and six new senators in the Tennessee General Assembly.
The statewide used strategic social media and digital advertising to reach lawmakers with the co-ops’ message. TECA created a landing page on its website about the state’s electric co-ops, who they serve, and their issues. The campaign was designed to drive lawmakers and their staff to this site to learn more about co-ops.
Direct mail was also used. The statewide targeted the state capitol complex on weeks that the legislature was in session and sent a series of postcards to lawmakers’ homes as they returned from Nashville for the weekend.
The first postcard described the electric co-op model, the second explained co-ops’ role in delivering reliable energy, and the third talked about how co-ops contribute to the community, economic development and the legacy of the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.
Scott believes that lawmakers now have a better understanding of co-ops.
“Legislators are aware of co-ops and what we do. More so than that, we’ve seen a lot of excitement from our co-ops about us doing this at a statewide level,” he said.
Scott noted that TECA’s positive experience with the campaign means a likely repeat should future elections sweep in another large freshman class. It is something that other statewides could easily emulate, he added. “There was an appetite, an enthusiasm from our co-ops to do this. They saw the value in it locally,” he said.
Cathy Cash is a staff writer at NRECA.