OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – TCEC, an electric cooperative based in Hooker, Oklahoma, was named “Top Rural Electric Communicator of the Year” for 2017.
The award was initially announced in the fall of 2017 during “OKL University,” a professional development event held for electric cooperative communicators by the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives and Oklahoma Living magazine. TCEC also received the Award of Excellence for Best Community Outreach and Awards of Merit for Best Internal Newsletter and Best Use of Digital Media. On April 2, officials from TCEC were presented the award in the presence of co-op leaders from across the state of Oklahoma during OAEC’s Annual Meeting in Oklahoma City.
“There’s very few cooperatives out there, so telling our story every year becomes more and more important,” Zac Perkins, TCEC CEO, said. “We get to control the conversation. We get to set the expectations. If we’re not doing that, somebody else is going to be setting expectations, and Tri-County specifically would never be able to live up to expectations we don’t know about.”
Chris Purdy, TCEC vice president of member solutions, said he’s proud of the communications team.
“When you plan and you make those efforts throughout the year-the planning, all the things that we do-and then when it gets recognized, that’s very rewarding to be able to do that,” Purdy said. “We do this for the membership but the people we have on this team love what they do and that shows, so I’m very proud of this team and glad to be part of it.”
Engaging members in their cooperative is one of their strategic priorities, said Communications Manager, JuliAnn Graham.
“The strategy behind external communications here at TCEC is really to use a variety of mediums and channels to reach our members where they’re at in the venue they want to be reached at,” she said. “We are moving toward a more segmented and targeted approach to where we try to put the message that members want to hear and need to hear in their hands.”
The TCEC staff oversees nearly 5,000 miles of distribution lines, serving approximately 23,000 households and businesses.
“In our Communications Department we try to communicate to our members the value of being a cooperative,” Leslie Kraich, community and member relations coordinator, said. “Our members look at TCEC for support. They look to us for information. They also look to us to keep their power on, to keep their lights on.”
Graham and her team have received multiple awards for their work, including the 2014 “Top Rural Electric Communicator.” She said the communications team focuses on maintaining their communication methods consistent.
“We base our communications on a pyramid model, using our print newsletter as the bases for our messaging. From that, we build on that with our digital messaging such as social media, our website, our email marketing,” she said. “We do a variety of methods, but we try to keep a consistent, integrated marketing communications message.”
Three media judges evaluated more than 100 entries from electric cooperatives across the state and chose TCEC as Top Communicator based on their overall communications strategy.