Client Story

Client Story

"Meredith and her staff have taken our communications to the next level. They're the first place to call for a superior marketing and media presence!"


—KEN KNIGHT, CHAIR, BOARD OF TRUSTEES
GREATER AUGUSTA UTILITY DISTRICT


We bring transparency and credibility to
this provider of life’s most essential product.


The Situation

There’s nothing sexy about plain old drinking water, much less wastewater or stormwater—and who even knows what that is? But when there’s a need to raise rates to keep sewage out of our waterways, communicating with customers is essential. That’s why in 2013 the Greater Augusta Utility District (GAUD), which serves Maine’s capital region, engaged Burgess to upgrade communications to its more than 5,000 customers.

Our Strategy 

GAUD’s key goals were to 1) make the public aware of the effort and investment required to provide safe drinking water and manage effluent; while 2) positioning GAUD as a transparent, competent and fair utility.

We planned and implemented a comprehensive, multi-channel program to convey the technical, human, and sometimes humorous side of the water utility in everyday language, supported by engaging visuals. Specific tactics include:

  • Designing a more readable logo and up-to-date brand identity;
  • Rebuilding the antiquated GAUD website, and keeping it current, in both content and functionality;
  • Creating engaging annual reports, newsletters, bill inserts, water quality reports, and print and digital ads, including a series of “GAUD by the Numbers” graphics to convey the system’s scale and complexity;
  • Writing and designing social media posts; and
  • Advise GAUD management on public presentations, public affairs interactions and other communications issues.

Starting in 2017, GAUD’s outreach took on greater urgency as it became clear that rate increases would be necessary to continue meeting customer needs and regulatory standards. In particular, we focused on helping stakeholders understand the need for increases in stormwater rates.

Results

Over the past six years, we have laid a foundation of trust among GAUD’s customers, as evidenced by consistent improvement in visitor interaction on its website and social media, in direct customer contacts, and with various member municipalities.

Our clear and persuasive communications enabled GAUD to announce a stormwater rate increase at a public hearing in May of 2019 with little opposition.

Perhaps most important, GAUD management feel they have a highly expert advisory team handling their communications, so they can focus on what they do best.

 

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