The first annual TECA Top Tenn Communication Awards were presented during the 2015 TECA Annual Meeting. Duck River Electric Membership Corporation received an award for Best External Newsletter or Magazine Section; Appalachian Electric Cooperative, Best Internal Newsletter; Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation, Best Website; and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, Best Use of Social Media. Duck River Electric Membership Corporation, Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative each received awards in the Wild Card category, with Chickasaw Electric Cooperative and Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative also earning Honorable Mentions.

“Effective communication is a powerful tool for modern electric cooperatives,” says Robin Conover, TECA’s vice president of communications and editor of The Tennessee Magazine. “We honor these winners for telling the electric cooperative story in a professional way across multiple platforms.”

Best External Newsletter or Magazine Section

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation
Monthly sections in The Tennessee Magazine

“Content in these sections is varied enough that any reader can find articles of interest,”the judge claimed in describing the writing as “excellent” and praising General Manager Michael Watson’s monthly columns: “Whether he’s telling Duck River Electric Membership Corporation members about the prospects of their co-op merging with a neighboring system, getting them fired up about a monstrous tractor pull, or detailing the challenges of dealing with two huge ice storms in the same week, General Manager Michael Watson knows how to put things in perspective for members. His messages to the membership are simple, friendly, and to the point.”

Best Internal Newsletter

Appalachian Electric Cooperative
The Hotline employee newsletter

Our judge noted the heavy emphasis on co-op news, one particular article he noted as “masterfully done.” “Diversity of content in this newsletter should attract an array of readers,” he said citing “light, friendly offerings” and writing that’s “outstanding — clever, crisp, creative.”

Best Website

Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation

Our judge noted, “Articles are timely, up-to-date, and easy to read in proper journalistic style;” “Menus are easy to find and comprehend;” “The home page, especially, is clean, well-organized, and easy to distinguish what is most important and most relevant;” and “Articles are timely and updated.”

Best Use of Social Media

Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative

In analyzing Sequachee Valley EC’s social media posts, our judge said, “SVEC is getting incredible engagement on their posts as measured in retweets, shares, likes, and comments,” interaction the judge called “refreshing.” As for writing quality, it was noted as “appropriately varied according to the type of post: informative when there’s a power outage, lively when there is some interaction required, reverent when there is something serious or inspirational to say.”

Wild Cards

Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative
“Celebrating 75 Years of Light” campaign: Video, “A Place at the Table” cookbook, 75th anniversary quilt

We bundled together for consideration three related entries. “A Place at the Table — Celebrating 75 Years of Light” is a cookbook our judge called “a masterful, meaningful project dedicated to member-owners of Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative.” The cooperative’s annual meeting video, also titled “Celebrating 75 Years of Light,” is, our judge said, “A wonderful 12-minute video for which Meriwether Lewis Electric Cooperative staffers created the script and story board was perhaps the crown jewel in the organization’s celebration of its Diamond Anniversary — the 75th — in 2014.” And he called MLEC’s 75th Birthday Quilt “a great job all around!” “After being unveiled at MLEC’s 2014 Membership Meetings, the masterpiece made its way to each of the counties the cooperative serves. Those gatherings attracted some 1,200 members! That the quilt project was a modern-day version of quilting bees of the past made it even more appropriate for a 75th anniversary observance.”

Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative
“Energizing Our Communities for 75 Years” campaign: Cookbook and 75th anniversary commemorative book

This is another bundled set of submissions. “Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative Celebrates 75 Years,” our judge wrote, “is compact enough that it doesn’t take up much space on a shelf or in a drawer, and its type is easy to read. It should be a treasured keepsake for many members.” He also added extra praise for the book’s details: “What impressed me about (the cover) picture was that each of the 50 people shown was identified! An editor after my own heart!” Meanwhile, commemorative publication “Energizing Our Communities for 75 Years” is praised as “a marvelous 65-page book chronicling the 75-year history of Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative. A masterpiece chunk full of facts, features, and touching testimonials from some of the pioneers who helped bring electricity to the scenic Sequatchie Valley, this volume is a true keepsake for SVEC employees and members.”

Duck River Electric Membership Corporation
“Co-op Connections Business Directory”

“Somebody has put a lot of work into compiling and maintaining this comprehensive directory of local businesses that offer discounts and specials to participating Duck River Electric Membership Corporation members,” our judge commented. “All in all, Coop Connections is quite an undertaking, and the top-quality directory compiled and maintained by DREMC obviously plays a major part in its success.”

Honorable mentions

Chickasaw Electric Cooperative
“Third Annual Deck the Halls at Chickasaw”

“What a clever and creative Christmas promotion!” praised our judge, showing that a large budget isn’t necessary for strong communications initiatives, including those aimed at employee engagement. “I’m sure it’s something Chickasaw employees look forward to every year, and from the photos submitted with the entry, it’s evident that lots of creativity and effort go into the joyful project. Visitors are bound to be impressed – and inspired! Based on the photos, my favorite is the tree on which the Christmas-red “‘Caution: buried electric line below”’ tape and other electric utility trinkets are used as
decorations.”

Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative
“45 Years of WYT”

“Though I wish this video had narration, I understand why that wasn’t feasible,” begins the judge. “The producer did the next best thing, though, by providing text that tells who’s who, which year is which, and something about what’s going on. It’s a long video at just over 24 minutes, but considering the time span it covers and the number of young people it features, it’s worth every minute! I can’t imagine how long it took to gather all the information on Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative’s Youth Tour delegates, round up photos, and then write copy for this project.”

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