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Water utility directors launch communications consulting firm

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WILMINGTON, NC, MAY 2, 2017 -- Today two longtime utility directors launched a communications consulting firm dedicated to helping water and wastewater professionals across North Carolina and the nation meet their customers' growing expectations for information. WaterPIO (www.WaterPIO.com) provides short-term, long-term and emergency communication services to utilities and local government operations that will strengthen their relationships with their ratepayers, all for a fraction of the cost of full-time personnel.

"WaterPIO knows from firsthand experience that water and wastewater services are out of sight and out of mind, often only thought of when there's a big bill or main break," said Mike McGill, WaterPIO President. "We give industry and local government leaders with limited staff and resources the ability to effectively communicate with their ratepayers on a consistent basis. And when an emergency occurs, we're always on call, ready to provide hands-on support for their incident response."

RELATED: Crisis Communications Planning

WaterPIO is staffed by experts with decades of experience serving water and wastewater utilities. Mike McGill recently served as Chief Communications Officer for Cape Fear Public Utility Authority in Wilmington, NC, where he created and implemented customer and media relations plans for the largest water utility in eastern North Carolina. He was previously the Director of Customer Relations and Communications for Loudoun Water and Public Affairs Coordinator for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.

Mike Richardson provides WaterPIO with important counsel and technical expertise on current and future regulatory issues. He is the only person to serve as president of North Carolina's three main water associations and directed the City of Wilmington's water operations for 22 years. The Cape Fear Region's largest groundwater treatment plant was recently named in his honor.

Because of WaterPIO's extensive experience, we understand how ratepayers 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.

That's why WaterPIO offers a variety of service packages tailored to fit water leaders' goals, staffing levels and budgets. They range from short-term and construction project-based communications to comprehensive, long-term planning and execution.

Media relations work is a particular WaterPIO specialty. Over the years, we've earned our water utilities millions of dollars in positive news coverage and can establish or improve any operation's standing with the press. We also train employees on how to handle difficult complaints or questions from reporters.

WaterPIO is a pioneer in the field of crisis communications for the water and wastewater industry. We created the first emergency notification system to microtarget customers about boil water advisories, water restrictions and sanitary sewer overflows. WaterPIO is NIMS/ICS-trained and we've served as lead public information officers (PIOs) during hurricanes, transmission main failures, algal blooms and coal ash contamination.

Finally, WaterPIO is adept at writing and producing print and online materials that effectively communicate key messages. We offer an array of brochures, bill inserts, Annual Reports, Consumer Confidence Reports, and other information items that greatly improve customer education.

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