Avista Working To Repair Public Image

SPOKANE – In an attempt to repair its public image the Avista Corporation is taking out half page ads in daily and weekly newspapers in Washington and Idaho.

Their goal? To reach out to customers skeptical about increasing power prices and Avista’s profits.

Avista’s letter to the community starts by saying that “We grew up in the Inland Northwest and we appreciate what makes this community great.” The letter then goes on to say that Avista wants an open dialogue with the community.

So what does the community think of the open dialogue? We took to a group of local residents at a coffee shop Tuesday to find out what they thought.

“‘Our prices remain among the lowest in the nation and among the northwest,'” Marion Lee said, quoting Avista’s letter. “I don’t believe that.”

“I don’t believe that either,” Kim Burke added.

Avista’s letter says they are inviting you to join a new conversation to share ideas and concerns.

“That’s what makes me feel good is when I see action, this to me is promotion, publicity,” AJ Hutsell said.

“Yeah feel better about the fact we are going to raise your rates,” Kim Burke said.

“And I want to see where the rubber hits the road,” Marion Lee added. “If you are going to be transparent to the community which is what this is trying to make me feel like they want me to think but then be transparent.”

Avista says this is the first in a series of community outreach projects the company is planning on doing in the future.

“We have heard from our customers, it is an extraordinary time, its been a hard winter, and customers have had some trouble paying their bills, and the economy has affected many of our families and we just want to reach our customers and know that we care and we want to have the conversation about energy costs and our future,” Linda Jones, Director of Corporate Communications, said.

The events of the past few months are not the sole reason Avista took out the ads but it’s a reaction to the extraordinary times.

“We are running the ad in all of our service territory areas in Washington and Idaho,” Jones said.

At the end of the letter it reads “We hope you will consider the information we present, talk it over and share you thoughts with us” but the ladies at the coffee shop don’t want to have a conversation. They want to have answers.

“Tell me what your CEOs are making, tell me how many employees you have, how many are you serving with low income families, give me the facts there are lots of flowery words here and someone did a nice job writing it,” Marion Lee said. “We know what it costs to run an ad in the newspaper and its very expensive, is that the best use of their money, I would say those of us are consuming their resources probably would say no.”

Avista wouldn’t confirm how much they are spending on the newspaper advertisements but they did say paid media is the best way for them to reach their customers and they are doing it as cost effectively as possible.