Touchstone Energy Brand News - Annual Meeting Edition (Plain Text Version)

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“The Conversation” Campaign Premieres At Annual Meeting

Touchstone Energy co-ops have a fresh, innovative new advertising campaign ready to hit the airwaves. “The Conversation” campaign, which includes five TV spots and will soon offer accompanying radio and print advertising, captures important messages that highlight one underlying theme—co-ops are looking out for their members. Filmed on location in Texas and California, the spots feature typical scenes one would encounter in co-op communities—in fact, some of the spots even include actual employees and members of Sam Houston Electric Cooperative and Anza Electric Cooperative.

“The Conversation” made its debut at Touchstone Energy Cooperatives’ annual meeting on Feb. 26 in Anaheim, Calif., to rave reviews from co-op employees in the audience.

“Touchstone Energy Cooperatives’ new campaign, ‘The Conversation,’ encapsulates the messages we, as cooperatives, need to get out to our members,” said Ray Beavers, CEO of United Cooperative Services (Cleburne, Texas). “The industry is changing at warp speed and we need to be on the forefront, giving our members the information they need to understand how they’re going to be affected. These new TV spots and the portfolio of upcoming print materials provide the necessary vehicles to have an important dialogue about the fast-changing energy landscape,” he added.

A brief description of each of the new spots follows below:

“We Want What You Want”
The spot is set in a diner and conveys that co-ops are tuned into what’s happening in their communities.

 Set in a hometown hardware store, this spot features a father and daughter picking out a CFL (see photo above) and serves to motivate consumers to take action now to save energy.

“The One Reason”
The focus of this spot is again on kids—but more broadly, it emphasizes that co-ops are taking steps—like leading the way in renewable energy--to leave the world a better place for them.

“Change Rolls Into Town”
The spot features an all-electric vehicle (see photo at right) and reinforces the need to strike the right balance in meeting the demand for reliable and affordable electricity.

“Dangerous Tools”
The message in this spot is safety and serves as a reminder to keep a safe distance from power lines.

The spots can be viewed and downloaded online.

New TV Spots Again Feature Audio Signature Capability

The campaign continues a capability first introduced by the now-expired “Straight Talk” campaign in 2006. Individual Touchstone Energy co-ops, or groups of co-ops, can place an order to have their name(s) voiced into the script of each of the five spots. This unique customization feature helps strengthen the local connections co-ops have with their members and communities.

How to Place an Order
A series of recording sessions has been scheduled to accommodate any Touchstone Energy cooperative that chooses to take advantage of the voice-over option. The deadline to place an order for the first session is 5 p.m. EDT Friday, March 14.

Detailed instructions for placing an order can be found in the attached document. Co-ops should print out, complete and return the attached order form to place their orders. Completed order forms should be faxed to Erika Fishman of White & Partners at 703.793.1496.

Co-ops that are not ready to place an order for the first recording session will have several other opportunities to place orders in the coming months. Stay tuned for details.

Beta SP tagging masters or DVD viewing copies of “The Conversation” are also available by contacting Scott Bialick at 703.907.5627/

Direct questions about the new campaign and voice-over process to Scott Bialick or Cynthia Henthorn at 703.907.5575/

Five Spots Running in National Media Buy Until April 6
“The Conversation” is already running nationally as part of a month-long media buy, the first of several national media buys for 2008. The spots can be seen on cable and satellite channels such as Fox News, USA, TNT, The Weather Channel, TBS, TNT, AMC, Lifetime, DirecTV and others. The 2008 media buys will utilize a larger range of channels than ever before.

Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Kicks Off Tenth Anniversary Celebration at Annual Meeting

Touchstone Energy Cooperatives greeted thousands of attendees at NRECA’s Annual Meeting and TechAdvantage Expo in Anaheim, Calif., last month and launched the celebration of the brand’s 10th anniversary.

The Touchstone Energy Cooperatives booth at the TechAdvantage Expo promoted the brand’s latest resources, including the Web site. Costumed energy efficiency characters “Suzie Saver” and “CFL Charlie” were on hand to help generate interest in the brand’s portfolio of energy-saving applications, handing out thousands of CFLs and posing for photos with attendees.

Touchstone Energy Cooperatives sponsored the Entertainment Night at the event, bringing renowned Beatles tribute band “Rain” to the stage. The memorable evening included great music, dancing, blinking Touchstone Energy Cooperatives lapel pins and even a happy birthday song dedicated to the brand.

Getting down to business, Mike Sims, CEO of Butler Rural Electric Cooperative and President of the Touchstone Energy Board of Directors, joined actor John Ratzenberger on stage to present the 2008 Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Annual Meeting. Ratzenberger, made famous by his role as postman Cliff Clavin in the television sitcom "Cheers," served as emcee for the presentation. Sims and Ratzenberger discussed the brand’s latest initiatives and successes, hailing its 10th anniversary and record-high membership mark of 661 co-ops.

COO Jim Bausell joined Ratzenberger on stage to introduce Touchstone Energy Cooperatives’ new advertising campaign, “The Conversation” (see article above). The presentation closed with a rousing performance of “We Shine As One,” Touchstone Energy Cooperatives’ official song, given by a Los Angeles-area gospel choir.

To view recorded video of the entire presentation, visit




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Four New Members Elected to Touchstone Energy Board

The results of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives’ recent board elections were announced Feb. 26 at the brand’s Annual Meeting. Four new members were elected to fill open positions on the board of directors:

  • Mark W. Schwirtz                
          CEO/GM, Trico Electric Cooperative, Inc., Marana, Ariz.
  • Dan L. Brown 
          CEO/GM, Cuivre River Electric Cooperative, Inc., Troy, Mo.
  •  Les Penning    
          Senior VP of Strategic Development, Powder River Energy Corporation, Sundance, Wyo.
  • Mark Pendergast                                                                   
          President and CEO, St. Croix Electric Cooperative, Hammond, Wisc.

Congratulations! [return to top]

SitesAcrossAmerica Challenge Names Winners at NET2008

The first-ever SitesAcrossAmerica Challenge was a major success, thanks to the enthusiastic participation of 94 Touchstone Energy co-ops across the country. Top participants were recognized at the NET2008 Conference in Hilton Head, S.C., in January.

The competition, during which co-ops competed by region to post as many properties as possible on, resulted in nearly 1,300 properties being added to the online database of available sites and buildings in co-op communities.

The southeastern states led the way with 742 properties added. The following three co-ops were the top individual participants:

Kootenai Electric Co-op, Idaho, Tyler Drechsel – 107 properties
Baldwin EMC, Alabama, Greg Gipson – 45 properties
Northeastern REMC, Indiana, Gene Donaghy – 34 properties

Click here for a complete list of participants. Thank you to all who took part!

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National Anthem Videos Developed For Co-op Annual Meetings

Touchstone Energy co-ops have a new resource to add patriotic flair to their annual meetings. A trio of videos—set to the Star Spangled Banner—has been developed to highlight three different cross-sections of America and provide an emotional kick-off to annual meetings or community events. With stirring vocals by up-and-coming country singer Jesse Sheely, the videos are a rolling collage of photos featuring military personnel, kids and Americans from all walks of life. All three versions of the video can be locally tagged and will be automatically mailed to all Touchstone Energy co-ops in the coming weeks.






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10th Anniversary Logo Available Online

A special logo commemorating Touchstone Energy Cooperatives’ 10th Anniversary has been created. There are several different versions available for co-ops to use online, in print or however they see fit.

The high-resolution versions of the logos can be downloaded from the Touchstone Energy Web site.



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Upcoming Web Conferences and Events

Increasing Member Satisfaction in a Challenging Environment (Web Conference)
April 22, 2008

Connect 2008 Conference
May 13-15, 2008 
Hilton Portland and Executive Tower Hotel, Portland, Oregon
Pre-Conference Events: May 12
Online Registration now open!  

Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Hot-Air Balloon Calendar  [return to top]

EXTRA Newspaper, Research Results Mailed to Co-ops

Two hot-off-the-press brand resources are on their way to Touchstone Energy co-ops. The winter edition of the EXTRA newspaper has been shipped to brand leaders at every Touchstone Energy co-op, with enough copies for each employee. To request additional copies, contact Erin Keogh at

Results of 2007 National Survey on the Cooperative Difference have been published, and copies of the study have been sent to CEOs and brand leaders at Touchstone Energy co-ops. Contact Ann Maggard at to request additional copies. 

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Editor, Erin Keogh