Jami, for our readers who may not realize there are many different careers in the energy industry, could you please describe your role in marketing, communications, and public relations.
As the senior director of utility communications at Florida Power & Light, I lead a team of communicators that supports the company with media and public relations, messaging strategy, visual storytelling, and crisis communications. Throughout the year, our team implements communication strategies and campaigns to keep employees, customers and stakeholders informed regarding major company initiatives and other issues that may affect our customers or our business. The members of my team come from a variety of backgrounds, some are former journalists, others are English or communications majors, and others are marketing or public relations professionals, to name a few.
We consider ourselves very fortunate that as communicators we get to support nearly every aspect of the business. From helping our customers learn to save energy, developing new solar projects, supporting economic development initiatives, hardening the grid or using technology such as drones to inspect power lines, nearly every project in our company requires some form of communication support to ensure safety and a successful implementation.
Your skillsets include expertise in crisis communication. Where might this come into play in the energy industry?
The energy industry never takes a day off – we operate 24/7 every day of the year. That means that we must always be prepared for anything that may come our way – storms, fires, a pandemic and weather extremes are just a few of the emergencies we have recently faced as an industry. Having experts in crisis communications is critical to ensuring a successful response to these emergencies. Employees, customers, regulators and stakeholders all look to us to help keep them safe and informed.
At FPL, for example, we train year-round to ensure we’re ready to respond to different types of emergencies, not just storms. This training includes not only the operations team but also the communications team. Our company takes very seriously our duty to keep the lights on for more than 12 million Floridians. The service we provide is the lifeblood of our state’s more than $1.1 trillion economy. So we do everything that is reasonably possible to ensure we are ready to respond to an emergency, should one arise.
We’re in the early stages of Florida’s hurricane period. You are part of the team that reports out and provides information on hurricane preparedness and restoration correct? What advice would you give our readers now to prepare for a hurricane event?
As Floridians, we’re no strangers to storms, and we know all too well that it’s not a matter of if, but when that next storm will strike. At FPL, we prepare year-round to ensure we’re ready when that storm comes our away. The job of the communications team is to create awareness of the importance of being prepared well before hurricane season gets underway as well as provide continuous updates regarding preparation, safety and our restoration efforts when a storm affects our customers.
My advice is to not let your guard down. The preparations we make now, before a storm forms will make a meaningful difference in how we get through a storm together. That includes having a plan in place that protects you, your family and your pets.
I take storm preparation for my family very seriously. When a storm threatens our state, I can have peace of mind that I will be able to leave my family for an extended period of time to respond to the storm, and they will be able to safely weather the storm.
Were you a communications major in college? If not, how did you begin in that field?
I was a business and graphic arts major and minored in journalism and computer science. I stumbled into communications by way of my first college internship where I had the opportunity to put all my skills to use to help solve a corporate branding problem for an international non-profit. I have been in love with the profession ever since and have been blessed with opportunities in nearly every area of the communications function. I can say that out of all the industries I have worked in, the energy industry is by far my favorite.
As a bilingual professional in the energy industry, how have you been able to use your languages to strengthen Florida Power & Light’s communication strategy?
Being bilingual in any industry allows you to better connect with customers. At FPL, we have put a lot of work into implementing a multi-language strategy that allows us to deliver critical communications to customers in the way that is most meaningful to them during a time of need such as a storm. We know that in times of crisis, our customers depend on us even more for information. During Hurricane Irma, when every one of the 35 counties we served at the time was affected by the storm, we made the decision to publish daily updates for our customers in English, Spanish and Creole. We also implemented daily English and Spanish media briefings. Our customers expressed their appreciation and that is now part of our communication strategy during these types of events.
In closing, what advice would you give to the 2d year college student looking for a career in energy?
It’s never been a more exciting time than now to join the energy industry. The opportunities for learning and career growth are spectacular as the industry looks to long-term sustainable solutions to power the U.S. economy.
I am personally excited for the opportunities right here at NextEra Energy, including FPL and our sister company NextEra Energy Resources. We recently announced our Real Zero plan to become 100% carbon-free by 2045 – that’s a pledge no other company in any other sector has made. It’s a game changer for our customers and for other utilities who want to work with us toward eliminating emissions from their operations. And of course, the opportunities to help us deliver on this plan are vast and in many different career areas.
So, my advice to a second-year college student looking for a career in the energy industry is go for it! In fact, come join our company in leading the decarbonization of the U.S. economy. We offer great internship opportunities where you can learn and begin to build your career.