Who will tell our story if we don’t?

4 Oct 2018
Jo Pafumi, General Manager, Corporate Affairs - Powercor

As networks, we tend to traditionally be conservative when it comes to being visible.

In Victoria, we aren’t selling a service or product directly, we don’t issue bills and it’s the retailer who has regular contact with our customers.

Not surprisingly when we recently asked customers if they knew what a distribution business does, nine per cent had never heard of them and 23 per cent didn’t know what they did. The survey also found that when consumers were asked to name a distributor, the brands they mentioned were of retailers. This again highlighted to us we need to start telling our own story more effectively.

It’s why we’ve launched an integrated media advertising campaign to help Victorians understand who we are and what we do.

Using the slogan “Oi, up here!”, we want to shed a light on how “we stay on top of things” to deliver reliable, safe and affordable electricity in our communities. The campaign seeks to build awareness of the role of the humble ‘liney’ in keeping hundreds of thousands of households and businesses connected with electricity. It highlights the significant work we do in maintaining and operating more than 87,000 km of wires and 566,883 poles in the most efficient way across about 63 per cent of Victoria.

The campaign currently being featured in print, television, outdoor and online media forms part of a broader shift to engage directly with our customers.

At a time when energy costs are receiving unprecedented attention, we see this lack of differentiation as an issue for not just our networks, but the industry.

Powercor’s distribution and metering costs make up about 28 per cent of the residential electricity bill. However, consumers are still confused about how to differentiate between service providers in the industry and how this relates to their energy bills.

By using creative ways to engage directly with customers, we wanted to build trust that our networks are providing reliable, safe and affordable electricity.

It’s about helping consumers understand the value proposition represented by network charges and it’s about building awareness of the brands in a way that is relevant.

This year, we are tying this campaign in with the activation around community partnerships and our summer campaign to let customers know what we have done to prepare for the hot weather and what they can do to stay safe. Going forward, we are working on new strategies to tell our stories about innovation, investment, our people’s expertise and training, as well as our community involvement. 

As network businesses, we have great stories to tell. Whether it is new customer services that are helping households reduce their bills, partnerships to help manage demand, or leading edge technology to improve vegetation clearances, we are focused on the things that matter most for our customers – reliability, safety and affordability.

So, how do we, as an industry, tell them? How do we demonstrate the value for money proposition behind network charges, which account for about a quarter of the average electricity bill in Victoria?

Our ad campaign isn’t the only solution, it is the tip of the iceberg of a broader campaign which has customers as its target.

Now, more than ever, we need to be engaging with the community about what we do, how we do it and the value we deliver. Because, as we all know, if we don’t tell our story – no-one else will.