Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What are we doing here?

Location: Corporate Offices, Akron, Ohio

In my department at FirstEnergy, Corporate Communications, all of our job descriptions include, as the final official role, “Other duties as assigned.” We often use this as shorthand for whatever we’re working on at the time. Accordingly, the following questions all have the same answer:

Q. Why are you rummaging for quarters to feed parking meters?

Q. Why are you measuring the elevator doors?

Q. Why do you need a flame-resistant rain suit when you work on the 17th floor?

A. Other duties as assigned.

There are perfectly legitimate and often mundane answers for such questions, but the shorthand “other duties as assigned” usually works just fine.

FirstEnergy Storm Correspondent

So, while my job description doesn’t mention bucket trucks, downed wires or working outdoors in all weather, it also doesn’t exclude them. I also note it doesn’t promise warm offices or all-day access to coffee machines, restrooms or laptop computers with Internet access, either. “Other duties as assigned,” it would seem, covers just about everything – including being embedded with a line crew in storm mode, as they work long days in all weather to restore power – and normalcy – to our customers’ lives.

FirstEnergy began using social media a couple of years ago to keep customers better informed about our service restoration efforts after large storms, and the effort has largely been well-received, but we knew there was a larger role for social media to play. I am very pleased to be our first storm correspondent – it’s a new role for the company, a new challenge for me and it gets me out in the field, where the real work of restoring service takes place. We’ll also be tweeting shorter messages from the field during storms to inform customers about where we’re working and what we’re facing. This effort is designed to provide customers with as much information as possible during the restoration process.