How to utilities to competently build communication with consumers and improve their image?

The sphere of public services is traditionally one of the most discussed in the society. Consumers are discussing the blunders in the work of communal workers in social networks, turning to the media and flooding the specialists of housing and communal services with complaints. Can a utility company improve public opinion about its work and what tools can help in this, discussed at a seminar in Minsk on November 9, 2017.

Its participants were representatives of enterprises of housing and communal services, profile departments of district executive committees of Minsk and Hrodna regions, as well as enterprises for waste processing.

The main theme of the event was the creation of communication strategies for utilities that will help increase people's understanding of the work of the organization, influence behavior change and improve image. Anastasia Belaya, an expert on administrative and communication issues of the IPO "Ecopartnership", told what blocks should be included in the communication strategy, how to form key messages for target audiences and develop an action plan. She was supplemented by Alesia Chumakova, press secretary of the IPO "Ecopartnership", giving recommendations on interaction with the media, creating websites and maintaining accounts in social networks. A stormy discussion among participants of the seminar was prompted by the proposal to create a brand for utilities.

Participants of the seminar heard from journalists themselves what proposals and comments on cooperation exist. For example, Anastasia Shymko, a journalist of the regional newspaper "Iuejskij kraj", noted that readers are interested in materials about raids on improvement and problematic issues, but employees of the housing and utilities sector do not always react quickly to the appeals of journalists. Iryna Famina, editor of the Portal for Community Literacy, stressed that their resource tries to show readers how many positive examples from the work of housing and communal services and clarify complex issues.

The seminar also presented various examples of information work on waste management and resource saving issues from the Brest waste processing plant, the Environmental Solutions Center, the IPO "Ecopartnership" and the information center on the work of the public services in Vilejka.

During the work in the groups, the participants tried to determine the portrait of certain groups of consumers of housing and communal services, identify the sources from which they receive information, and the most troubling problems of the housing and communal services sector. For each of the groups, key messages were identified that need to be conveyed to them and actions identified that will help to do this. For example, for the elderly, the participants offered to open a service, whose volunteers will regularly ring up elderly people and be interested in their attitude to the quality of housing and communal services.

Seminar "Communication strategies. Effective interaction with the media" was held by the IPO "Ecopartnership" within the framework of the project "Demand for Good Governance in Housing and Utility Sector", funded by the European Union.


Photo by Yulia Dubovskaya

15 November 2017