From a communications perspective, participating in the NRECA international program is a good as gold. And I am basing that claim not only on my own experience- but on science, too.
You see, the human species is biologically hardwired to do good.
It’s is perplexing from a biology perspective, as most hardwired tendencies are all about survival.
This is quite the opposite.
Humans are hardwired to help one another- even when they incur no personal benefit, or have to pay a personal cost. When we help someone, our brains reward us by releasing neurochemicals that make us feel happy.
And here’s why this phenomenon is relevant to communicators: Research shows there is a ripple effect.
Witnessing, or simply reading stories about extraordinary acts of kindness make people feel good. When you can get your members to associate those good feelings with your co-op, it helps to establish an emotional connection. And for electric co-ops, research shows that emotional connection is key to fostering something we’re all after- engagement and loyalty.
You’d be hard pressed to find a story about an act of kindness that’s more extraordinary than the NRECA international program story.
Last fall Michigan co-ops partnered with NRECA International and sent 10 linemen to electrify Buena Vista, Guatemala. We told our story in many ways, but arguably it was told best with a website dedicated to the project- partnersforpower.org.
The website’s primary function was to host our “postcards from Guatemala series.” Each night one of the linemen would call me and tell me about the days adventures. I would condense the conversation into a 250 word postcard (a blog post with a photo) from that lineman.
These blog posts were short, interactive and very shareable. People could sign-up to receive them in their email inbox and the co-ops could easily share them to social media. During the two-week project the postcards got more than 16,000 views and up until the very last postcard people were still subscribing to receive them in their inbox.
Take five minutes to watch the Michigan project video below. My hunch (and hope) is that the ripple effect will leave you happy- and inspired to get involved.