Texas Gov. George Bush on May 26 signed into law a comprehensive bill, H.B. 2128, that makes sweeping changes in the way the state regulates telecommunications. The bill allows competitors to...
groups and interviews.
Regina R. Johnson is managing editor and Bruce W. Radford is editor-in-chief at Public Utilities Fortnightly.
"Plug In, California!"
California's consumer education program included mass media, an Electric Education Call Center, local outreach and collateral materials in 14 languages. The prime consultant, DDB, also awarded 84 grants to local outreach organizations.
Russel Wohlwerth, DDB's group account director, said he is often contacted for information about California's education program. "Last week, I got calls from Denmark, Holland and Australia," he noted. Wohlwerth added that it's too early to judge the program's success. "I believe in 2002 when this transition period ends and there's a price incentive, you'll really see a fair degree of switching."
Client: Electric Restructuring Education Group, with oversight by the California Public Utility Commission
Budget: $74 million
Communications Agency: DDB Worldwide Communications Group
PR Agency: Rogers & Associates
Promotions: Flair Communication
African American Advertising: Carol H. Williams Advertising
African American PR: Young Communications
Latino PR: Durazo Communications
Latino Advertising: Anita Santiago Advertising
Asian Advertising & PR: Imada Wong Communications
Electric Education Call Center:
"Where Do You Think You Are-Pennsylvania?"
Pennsylvania's four-year Electric Choice Program, launched in June 1998, includes broadcast and print media, the ElectriChoice website, collateral materials and a toll-free information line. In addition, several mailings of 5 million pieces were sent with detailed instructions for participating in the program and a list of licensed suppliers. More than 1,000 community-based organizations have participated in the consumer education efforts, including groups that serve hard-to-reach constituencies.
From a creative viewpoint, Earle Palmer Brown chose humor as a means of overcoming the negative feelings associated with telecom deregulation and electricity's lack of glamour. The approach paid off, actually creating a statewide buzz, according to Karen Connor, a partner at the firm. "[The campaign] became a topic of conversation and it's even been picked up by the news media."
Client: Council on Electric Choice and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
Budget: $16 million in 1998, $10 million in 1999
Advertising Agency: Earle Palmer Brown
PR Agency: Burson-Marsteller
Minority Consultants: Mendoza-Harmelin; Beach Advertising
Toll-Free Call Center:1-888-PUC-FACT
"New Jersey Energy Choice"
New Jersey's public education program was launched in July to describe coming deregulation of the state's electric and gas markets. The three-year campaign includes print and broadcast advertising, a call center, website and other outreach programs. The New Jersey Energy Choice website had logged 30,000 hits by mid-November.
Client: The Utility Education Committee with oversight from the Energy Education Council and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
First-Year Budget: $13 million
Communications Agency: Winning Strategies Public Relations LLC
Research Consultant: Center for Research and Public Policy
Toll-Free Call Center: 1-877-NJ5-5678
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