Division A - Public Relations Programs
Category 6 - Internal
LCEC Ride the WAVE Informational Event
LCEC Public Relations, WAVE Core Team

Golden Image Award
Judges' Award

Research/Situation Analysis: To manage electric customer requests, LCEC field employees are assigned daily work schedules. Research indicated that declining service standard statistics and customer comments began to point to a problem with the work management process. Projected growth throughout the service territory and the age of the existing work management system indicated the critical need for an updated system. Research also showed that delays occurred when paperwork was misplaced. Additionally, the time it took to complete a job from start to finish was often prolonged due to manual transfer of paperwork between departments. After a needs analysis and cost benefit comparison, members of the operations department believed the process time could be reduced with an automated mobile system. Implementation of a new work management system would involve nearly every employee within the company so the first step toward achieving positive results would be to secure employee buy-in by communicating the benefits of the project. One-on-one interviews indicated that the workforce was hesitant to begin implementation of a major three-year system implementation on the heels of a recent challenging two-year billing software implementation. The Public Relations department was called in to help develop a communication plan. An integral part of the plan was a pre-project informational event where employees could learn about the proposed project, its benefits and implementation. Research of past successful LCEC projects indicated that employees were more likely to embrace a project when information was presented in a fun and enlightening manner and did not take them away from their busy schedules for too long. The target audience for the event was LCEC employees from multiple departments and the management team.

Objectives: (1) To communicate needs analysis results, project benefits and details in a positive, fun, interactive way to a diverse group of employees at an event lasting less than two hours in duration. (2) To familiarize at least 1/3 of employees with the project name and its major components. (3) To introduce employees to the core project team in a way that encourages input and support. (4) To provide information geared toward a variety of employees with a budget of less than $1,000 prior to officially kicking off the project.

Implementation: LCEC public relations and the core project team brainstormed themes for the project that would easily communicate its value and be fun at the same time. The group decided on “WAVE” to stand for Workforce Automation Vision Enablement. This would also be utilized as the theme for the informational event. The team researched surfing lingo, decoration ideas, promotional items and options for presenting information in an interactive way opposed to a long drawn out technical presentation. An interactive game show which incorporated technical information would keep employees interested and hands-on displays would provide examples of project benefits. Using a Jeopardy game show theme, a PowerPoint presentation was developed and the project sponsor, who also had a great personality, became the host. Employees received an email invitation and the event was promoted on the intranet. Upon arriving at the event, employees registered for prize drawings by writing what the acronym WAVE stands for. A WAVE pen was given to each employee and they were encouraged to jot down clues from informational displays that could possibly be the answers for the Jeopardy game. Prior to beginning WAVE Jeopardy, employees were invited to munch on tropical treats and peruse displays nestled among surf boards, palm trees and miniature surf-mobiles. The palm tree decorations were re-used from a prior event and the surf boards were crafted out of scrap foam core left over from another project. The WAVE core team, donning beach attire, was available to answer questions, initiate conversation, and show off their positive attitudes about the project. A brief introduction emphasizing the needs assessment and cost benefit analysis led up to the introduction of the core team. A life-size photo where team members’ heads had been graphically placed on the bodies of well-fit surfers generated a lot of conversation and employees were very interested in who was on the core team. After 20 minutes, employees were encouraged to participate in Jeopardy with a “Surfing Joe” prize for anyone giving a correct answer. Core team members were prepared to answer if employees didn’t, but that was never the case. After Jeopardy, employees were invited to revisit displays and ask questions of the core team. The atmosphere and core team accessibility made it easy for employees to ask even the simplest questions. Prize drawings winners were announced through email.

Evaluation: (1) In just under two hours, employees were able to familiarize themselves with all aspects of the project through multiple mediums - displays, positive interaction and a memorable game. 2) Just over 1/3 of employees attended the event and 87 percent of those who attended entered the prize drawing by correctly identifying the name of the project. The name of the project was reinforced during the event and the interactive game. Three department heads asked if the presentation could be given at upcoming staff meetings which would reach an additional third of employees (3) Attendees interacted with the core team and were introduced in an unforgettable way that showed they were approachable and believed in the project. Many employees stayed after the event to talk to the core team. (4) The event provided multiple mediums geared toward all types of employees. The event was held two weeks prior to project kick-off and total cost was below budget.

Budget: Display materials (produced in-house) $10. Event invitations $0. Game development (produced in-house) $0. Food $126.79. Promotional items/prizes $287.48 Total: $414.27. Public Relations and core team staff time: 30 hours for planning and execution.