While customers struggle without power, energy providers toil to communicate their message

The recent heavy snow has meant power cuts in many parts of the country, affecting thousands of homes and businesses. For utility providers this is not good news. PRmoment commissioned research looking at how the leading utility companies have been covered by online media during the last month, to highlight how the adverse weather is impacting their profiles. 



 Research supplied by Echo Sonar

Our reseearch looked at EDF, E.ON, nPower, Scottish Power, and Scottish & Southern. It shows that EDF's coverage has been most affected by the snow. However, the company’s PR has been admirable, showing how hard the company has worked to restore services despite hazardous conditions. For example, at BBC.co.uk, in a report on 19 December describing how hundreds of homes in the east of England had been without power through the night, EDF managed to appear almost heroic: “Engineers from EDF Energy have been working to restore power but have been hampered by poor travel conditions due to high winds and snow.”

Although most of EDF’s news was weather-related, for the other energy providers it is renewable energy that dominated coverage. Scottish Power in particular, created a flurry of media interest on 8 January, after releasing a press release concerning its plans to develop wind farms off East Anglia. Its release stated: “The Crown Estate has awarded Scottish Power Renewables, part of the largest wind energy company in the world and Vattenfall, the world’s leading offshore wind developer, the right to develop a major offshore wind zone in the North Sea, off the East Anglia coast, that has the potential to power the equivalent of over 5 million homes annually.”



 Research supplied by Echo Sonar

Two of the other utility companies have been creative in their efforts to get positive press, by highlighting their money- and energy-saving schemes. Energy firm nPower, succeeded in getting this good-news story covered by Mirror.co.uk on 18 December: “Energy firm nPower has got in ahead of the Government by launching a boiler scrappage scheme. The German-owned giant is offering a £400 trade-in for boilers that are more than 10 years old.” And at Guardian.co.uk on 4 January, E.ON must have been pleased with this coverage: “E.ON will today launch an LED streetlight that consumes up to 70 per cent less energy than standard lights and promises to deliver a ‘step change’ in the efficiency of lighting infrastructure.”

Out of the companies researched, Scottish Power received most coverage (28 per cent), closely followed by EDF (26 per cent), while E.ON received the smallest amount (11 per cent).
 

Methodology

PRmoment asked Echo Sonar to analyse all UK online media coverage of utility companies EDF, E.ON, nPower, Scottish Power, and Scottish & Southern. The research period was 12 December 2009 to 11 January 2010. Metrics included daily trend, share of voice and leading media topics.  


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