TXU Energy, Project Blueprint
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

TXU Energy, Project Blueprint

To prepare for energy deregulation in Texas in January 2002, TXU Corporation launched its global merchant energy business in Texas – TXU Energy – a deregulated business separate from its regulated “pipes and wires” entity, and uniquely positioned to compete.

Paul Holmes

To prepare for energy deregulation in Texas in January 2002, TXU Corporation launched its global merchant energy business in Texas – TXU Energy – a deregulated business separate from its regulated “pipes and wires” entity, and uniquely positioned to compete. TXU Energy includes three business units – Trading, Retail and Production – which previously were independent of each other.
 Challenges included: influencing employees about the changes taking place because of energy deregulation and the benefits of the new initiative; delivering a clear and concise message to employees in a language exemplifying our brand and desired culture; controlling rumors amongst employees regarding deregulation; and delivering communication tools as quickly and professionally as possible.
 Project Blueprint was created to “build TXU Energy,” to create the systems and processes whereby the three once separate business units would be aligned into one business function – TXU Energy. Within Project Blueprint, the employee relations program was one of seven workstreams. The Project Blueprint Communications team established four core themes relating to the business and culture that they wanted employees to comprehend: Evolving Industry Structure, Our Plan to Win, My Role and How It Fits, and How I Act.
The entire objectives and delivery of the approach consisted of clear, concise language (“straight talk”), two-way communication, building creativity with leadership and raising the profile of TXU Energy’s leaders. The deliverables of the new employee relations program included more face-to-face engagement and additional programs and publications to educate employees about the new business model. But within the deliverables, the aforementioned four themes were the basis for the approach.
Specifically, the objectives were:
· Segment audiences to ensure effective communication delivery
· Identify desired behaviors, the opportunities and obstacles, and the media and frequency needed to reinforce messages
· Use leadership and management to help roll out communications, drive it down to an individual level, and model behavior change
· Prepare leadership and management
· Consistently reinforce vocabulary, behavior, and expectations
· Engage and motivate leadership and management to model desired behavior
· Use planned communications and upcoming employee programs and events to continually reinforce foundational themes and messages
· Relate communications to ongoing strategies and goals
· Use success stories to reinforce cultural changes and spotlight employees
· Ensure that TXU Energy speaks with one voice
· Identify employee touchpoints and align all programs, plans, policies and communication
· Continuously measure, evaluate and revise
 The employee relations tools and tactics behind Project Blueprint consisted of the following: Leadership 50; Leadership 200; Straight Talk with Leadership; TXU Energy: Our Story publication; TXU Energy intranet subsite, with its Get Connected link; Live and Online; and Powerline. All seven of TXU Energy’s new employee relations vehicles were created and launched at various times throughout 2002.
 Leadership 50 and Leadership 200 were created to engage leadership with employees and achieve clear understanding of TXU Energy’s mission and goals. The L50 is held monthly and consists of 50 senior leaders, and the L200 is held quarterly and consists of 200 senior leaders. One of the key objectives was to use humor to help raise the energy level of the attendees and engage the audience, which was initiated through table discussions, gag videos and business-related quizzes.
Straight Talk with Leadership is conducted twice a month within TXU Energy’s three business units (Trading, Production and Retail) – one in corporate offices and the second in a field office (gas plant, call center, lignite plant, mine or nuclear power station). TXU Energy’s presidents visit with 12 employees at a time. In the corporate office, representatives from three business areas (Trading, Production and Retail) are selected. Following the Straight Talk meeting, the executive does a “walk around,” meeting informally with employees in their work areas. Straight Talk accomplishes the communications objective of two-way and direct communication.
TXU Energy: Our Story was written and designed by the employee communications department and published for employees at TXU Energy. The folded brochure explains the company’s evolution and the rationale for the launch of TXU Energy. Each business unit is described in “easy” language, and explains the unique business model. Our Story was published and distributed to all employees via interoffice mail, and was based on the core themes of our evolving industry and our plan to win. The publication utilized the communication objective of “straight talk.”
TXU Energy’s intranet subsite and the Get Connected link is an informative intranet site for TXU Energy employees. Employees are able to submit questions through Get Connected, and then all questions are answered within five business days. Get Connected also emphasizes the communication objective of two-way communication. Brian Dickie, TXU Energy, North America Group president, has a regular column on the intranet subsite, and presentations from leadership meetings are also published. By publishing this information on the intranet, it fulfills the communication objective of raising the profile of TXU Energy’s executives.
Live and Online is a monthly online chat session where employees visit with a TXU Energy president online on TXU Connect (TXU’s Intranet site). Questions are submitted “live” to a president and then answered immediately. Any questions unanswered after the one-hour chat time, are still answered via Get Connected within three working days. Live and Online accomplishes the communications objectives of “straight talk,” two-way communication and raising the profile of TXU’s presidents.
Powerline is a monthly news “radio” style program targeted at TXU Energy employees within Production. A large number of Production employees typically do not have access to a computer, or TXU Energy’s subsite, so Powerline is a format that allows them to obtain current information about TXU Energy. Employees are asked to dial a toll-free number (1-888-833-3403), and the entire program lasts eight-to-ten minutes. Comments from employees are then recorded at the end of the program, and then used to help shape future editions. Powerline emphasizes several of Project Blueprint’s communication objectives, including two-way communication and “straight talk.”
Surveys were conducted during Leadership 200 meetings held in February and May of 2002. In February, 99 percent of the employees indicated that the event was good or excellent, and in May, 95 percent stated it was good or excellent. In February, when asked how informative the event was, 96 percent stated good or excellent, compared to 94 percent in May. Those numbers indicate near perfect results.
Employee response to the monthly Live and Online chats with TXU Energy’s presidents has been incredible. In March, Live and Online hosted 729 participants, rising to 838 participants in May and a record 1,171 in July.
Evaluation and results from Straight Talk with Leadership indicate that of the employees who have participated, 87 percent state it was very informative and 13 percent state it was informative. Positive feedback indicates that the employees enjoy the small-group approach and the “sharing time” with executives.
With the initial launch of Powerline, TXU Energy pulled in 550 listeners, which represents about 14 percent of the Production staff, and in three months climbed to 960. Based on informal interviews, employees in production have stated they appreciate the timely topics, the easy, dial-in format and that information is accessible from the most remote locations. The latest quarterly survey shows improvement in responses to the Production question – “TXU does an excellent job of keeping employees informed about matters affecting them.”
The effectiveness of TXU Energy’s intranet subsite and Get Connected has proven extremely positive. Tracking records indicate that viewers consistently are staying 15-16 minutes per session – thus reading information thoroughly.
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