You may be able to go the internal route if you have…
- Someone in-house who has a design and communications background.
- Someone who can review any communications before they go out.
- A dedicated employee who has time to distribute content.
- A budget for producing communications.
- A seamless system for distributing communications.
On the other hand, you may want to work with an outside vendor if you…
- Have limited staff time available for communications.
- Need ready-to-use content vetted, written for a consumer audience, and reviewed.
- Want communications done by an expert or an organization that specializes in utility issues and concerns.
- Want writers and editors to conduct interviews, use credible research sources, write, and edit your content.
- Want a multi-media approach (newsletters, posters, brochures, calendars, blogs, videos, and/or social media, etc.), but lack the necessary skills and time to produce it.
- Seek the confidence of having seasoned professionals handle all details for you.
If you decide to go with an external vendor, make sure the vendor is the right fit for your utility. Here are some interview questions for any potential vendors:
- How long have you been doing communications?
- What is the experience of you and/or your team with utilities?
- Will my utility/city have a dedicated point-of-contact?
- Do you handle all aspects of communications – from creation through distribution?
- How much input/review on each project do you expect from my utility/city?
- How much lead time will you need to create communications?
These are just a few questions to ask. You may also want to get samples of a vendor’s past projects and the names, phone numbers, and email addresses for a few of its clients whom you could then contact.