CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy) Program
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Holmes Report
CEO

CARE (California Alternate Rates for Energy) Program

PG&E CARE Program provides a 20% monthly discount to qualifying low- or fixed-income customers on their PG&E bill.

Paul Holmes

PG&E CARE Program provides a 20% monthly discount to qualifying low- or fixed-income customers on their PG&E bill.  The program is dedicated to assisting a variety of low-income households via innovative outreach efforts to multicultural communities. 

 

Challenges 

With the increasingly diverse communities of California and the wide geographic distribution of customers, it became more challenging to reach out to multicultural groups as well as to the general population.  In 2007, PG&E CARE Program overcame this barrier by establishing a variety of direct communication channels and maximizing its exposure to create positive awareness of the program within its diverse communities.

 

Planning/Objectives

The PG&E CARE Program’s overall objective was to implement communication methods directed toward multicultural communities, enroll eligible customers, and achieve measurable results.  Creative strategies were utilized to develop a multi-prong approach that would effectively reach PG&E’s multicultural communities via multiple mediums which included the following:  bilingual applications, multilingual toll-free line, media, direct mail projects, multicultural events and community-based organization (CBO) partnerships.  During the planning process, PG&E CARE Program leveraged and strategized with community leaders to determine the most effective way to reach out to various multicultural communities.

 

Execution

PG&E CARE Program embraced the multicultural richness of California.  At its base of operations, PG&E CARE Program’s multicultural employees communicated CARE information to the diverse communities it serves.  To better reflect California’s diversity and offset language barriers, PG&E CARE Program printed its applications in English, Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese languages.  PG&E CARE Program also provided a toll-free line in these languages in order to address customer questions and provide further enrollment assistance.

 

PG&E CARE Program leveraged with print media and radio stations that catered to multicultural communities.  CARE employees recorded several in-language radio commercials to promote the program in multi-ethnic stations across PG&E’s service area.  For example, PG&E CARE Program shared its information on Vietnamese and Chinese radio stations in the San Francisco Bay Area in hopes of spreading the message of how easy it is to apply. 

 

PG&E CARE Program sent bilingual direct mail pieces to the customers’ homes, thereby reducing barriers to accessibility of enrollment information.  The following communities were reached via this method: Hispanic, Chinese, Vietnamese, African American, Native American and disabled. 

 

PG&E CARE Program proudly participated in 102 community events which represented diverse communities throughout PG&E’s vast service area.  Bilingual employees promoted the CARE Program at these events in order to answer customer questions about the program and provide assistance in the customer’s native language.  For example, PG&E CARE Program attended the Vietnamese TET festival in San Jose, promoting the program and providing energy efficiency information in Vietnamese.  Many customers have expressed their appreciation for the PG&E CARE Program promoting its information in their native language.

 

PG&E CARE Program recruited and contracted with 82 Community Outreach Contractors (COCs) to outreach to diverse communities throughout PG&E’s service area.  These organizations represented a variety of multicultural communities, including but not limited to: Hispanic, Asian, African American, Native American, Slavic, senior and the disabled.  PG&E CARE Program supported the COCs via a variety of channels, including: a monthly newsletter, a toll-free phone and fax line, quarterly regional meetings, site visits, training sessions and partnered enrollment events.  This multi-faceted partnership with the COCs also allowed the PG&E CARE Program to develop a better understanding of their multicultural communities, thereby leading to strategic community outreach efforts.

 

Evaluation of Success/Results/ ROI

The PG&E CARE Program’s overall objective was to implement communication methods directed toward multicultural communities, enroll eligible customers, and achieve measurable results.  Success of the CARE campaign can be assessed by the following:

 

  • The PG&E CARE Program has saved customers over $2.4 billion since the creation of the program in 1989.
  • There were 1,107,733 customers enrolled in the PG&E CARE Program in 2007.
  • 733,247 applications were received and processed in 2007, all within 48 hours of receipt.
  • The PG&E CARE Program partnered with 82 COCs throughout PG&E's service area.  COCs helped enroll 4,549 new CARE customers.
  • The CARE Team participated in 102 multicultural events in 2007, bringing a face and personality to the PG&E CARE Program.
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