WaterPIO serves utilities and operations looking to improve their customer and
emergency communications for a fraction of the cost of full-time personnel
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mike McGill
WILMINGTON, NC (April 24, 2017): Today, two longtime water utility directors officially launched a new communications firm dedicated to helping water and wastewater professionals meet their customers' growing expectations for information. Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, WaterPIO (www.WaterPIO.com) provides a variety of short-term, long-term and emergency communication services that will help water operations across the Carolinas and the country strengthen their connections with their customers, all for a fraction of the cost of full-time personnel.
“We at WaterPIO know from firsthand experience that water and wastewater services are out of sight and out of mind, only thought of when there's a bill or a break,” said Mike McGill, WaterPIO President. “We offer water professionals with limited staff and resources the opportunity to effectively communicate with their customers on a consistent basis. And when an emergency occurs, we’re always on call, ready to directly support their response.”
WaterPIO is staffed by experts with decades of experience serving water and wastewater utilities. Mike McGill recently served as the Chief Communications Officer for Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) in Wilmington, NC, where he planned, directed and implemented customer education and media relations efforts for the largest water utility in the Cape Fear region. He previously held the positions of Director of Customer Relations and Communications for Loudoun Water in Ashburn, Virginia, and Public Affairs Coordinator for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission in Laurel, Maryland, a water utility serving nearly two million people outside of Washington, D.C.
Mike Richardson is WaterPIO’s Of Counsel, providing important technical expertise and guidance on current and future regulatory issues. He is the only person to serve as the president of North Carolina’s three main water associations and was the City of Wilmington’s “water man” for 22 years. CFPUA recently named its main groundwater treatment plant the Michael Lee Richardson Nanofiltration Water Treatment Plant in honor of his service.
Because of WaterPIO’s decades of experience working with ratepayers, we understand how they are receiving the news they want - no matter how important or trivial - without needing to ask for it. Social media, emails, texts and mass media immediately update customers whenever there is news that affects their lives.
As a result, WaterPIO offers a variety of communication service packages that can be tailored to any water professional’s needs, staffing levels and budgets. They run the gambit from short-term and project-based assistance to emergency response to comprehensive, long-term planning and execution.
Media relations work is a particular specialty of WaterPIO – McGill is a former network and local news producer – and we can craft gameplans for outreach that will establish or improve any operation’s relationship with the press. Over the years, we’ve earned our water utilities millions of dollars in positive media coverage. WaterPIO is also an expert in the field of media training and can show any utility’s staff how to handle difficult complaints or questions.
WaterPIO is a pioneer in the field of crisis communications for the water and wastewater industry. We developed the first emergency notification system that microtargeted customers about boil water advisories, Do Not Use notices and major sanitary sewer overflows. WaterPIO is also NIMS/ICS-trained and we’ve served as the lead public information officials for major emergencies like hurricanes, transmission main failures, algal blooms, and contamination from coal ash.
Finally, WaterPIO is adapt at writing and producing print and online materials that effectively communicate key messages to customers. We offer a variety of effective brochures, bill inserts, presentations and other items that have been proven to improve customer education. WaterPIO can also lead the writing and production of annual reports and Water Quality/Consumer Confidence Reports.
WaterPIO can also serve as a resource for the media on a wide variety of drinking water, source water and wastewater-related issues. Journalists are encouraged to contact WaterPIO at (910) 622-8472 or mike@WaterPIO.com whenever they need background information or public comment.
Friday, April 21st was Mike McGill’s last day as CFPUA’s Chief Communications Officer after four-and-a-half years of service.
“I’ve thought about launching WaterPIO for some time; there’s a clear need within the water and wastewater industry for a communication-focused firm,” said McGill. “Last fall’s raw water main break here in the Cape Fear cemented my decision. As I was serving as the Unified Command’s Public Information Officer, several members of the repair team called my level of service “a luxury” and thanked me for responding to the press and the public around the clock because it allowed them to stay completely focused on the repair. Then, when someone of Mike Richardson’s stature agrees with your idea and offers to partner with you, you know it’s time to make the move.
“When I first came to CFPUA, employees told me that they couldn’t leave the office with their badges on for fear of being harassed, that they would never get a fair shake with the press, and that they didn’t dare look at social media because they were under constant, personal scrutiny.
“From that day on, it became my #1 goal to reverse their situation through improved customer communication and media outreach. Today, those same good, hardworking people can move through the day with their badges on display; they receive fair and consistently positive treatment from the press; and they can go online without having to make sure their children are in another room. I’m extremely proud of my work to help inform our customers and change the conversation for our employees. I will miss working on their behalves.”
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