Npower to move away from "formal, slow and impersonal" comms, PR head reveals

Npower is turning to social media for help in fighting a wave of energy industry criticism as it aims to move away from "formal, slow and impersonal" comms.

Npower: Shifting comms focus
Npower: Shifting comms focus

This week the energy giant’s director of external comms Guy Esnouf used Twitter to speak on behalf of Npower for the first time as part of a wider PR rethink aimed at helping rebuild trust.

Under #Energyguy and using the company’s @NPowerhq account, Esnouf will engage with debate around the energy sector as part a wider effort to "stir up conversation".

"Energy is such a political football at the moment, and much of the coverage has a political slant," he said.

"We looked at the situation and decided we won’t sit back and wait until after the election [to communicate]. Instead we’re going to try and engage on the key issues. One of the issues we identified is that traditional PR uses interviews and press releases, both of which are very formal but don’t lead to real conversation."

Sparked by Labour leader Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze energy prices last autumn, debate around the sector has led to condemnation of the big six energy companies from both public and politicians.

Earlier this month, Edelman's Trust Barometer put the energy sector at the bottom of its trust ranking, with a score of just 32 per cent.

Npower's social media push, which will initially target journalists and stakeholders, is part of a broader effort to more actively engage in debates around the energy sector and correct what Esnouf called "misperceptions".

The first of a series of blogs on industry issues, which will link through to Twitter, is expected to be posted within days.

Though declining to reveal further plans, Esnouf said the move was the start of a shift from "formal, slow and impersonal" methods to more "conversational" comms.

"It’s the start of something, and the start of us looking at how we communicate," he added.

"Energy companies are criticised for not being transparent. What could be more transparent than Twitter? It’s not just about having the conversation, but being seen to have the conversation openly."

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