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Company: Memphis Light, Gas and Water
Company Division/Group: Corporate Communications
Company Description: Founded in 1939, MLGW is the largest three-service public utility in the nation with 2,700 employees operating under the dynamic leadership of President & CEO, Herman Morris, Jr. MLGW's slogan, "Hometown Energy Working for You," reflects the company's commitment to the community which has garnered the utility numerous awards.
Nomination Category: Organization Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Best Communications Organization

Nomination Title: MLGW Corporate Communications Department

  1. Tell the story of what this functional organization has achieved in 2002 (up to 500 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

    As a municipally owned utility, MLGW operates in a dynamic environment, and it must balance the operational needs of the utility with the unique needs of its customer base. MLGW's Corporate Communications department worked diligently in 2002 to demonstrate the company's actions in this area and to further strengthen customer loyalty and perception.

    The Memphis area has a large number of residents at or below the poverty line, as well as many who are on fixed incomes. Thus, many MLGW customers find it difficult to pay their utility bills, despite the fact that the utility has some of the lowest rates in the country. To this end, MLGW's Corporate Communications department embarked on an aggressive effort to promote conservation, giving customers the information that they need to control their energy costs. Utilizing existing mediums such as the bill insert and website, as well developing and placing television, radio and print messages, and partnering with a local network affiliate, the utility has positioned itself as a partner with its customers. Rather than encouraging the purchase of its products, as most organizations do, MLGW has worked to help its customers use its products more wisely, i.e. less, so that customers' bills will be even lower and more manageable. Results indicate that efforts have been highly successful. For instance, 2002 winter temperatures have been about the same as in 2001, yet consumption is down by 12 percent. Furthermore, 64 percent of customers surveyed felt that MLGW does a good job of informing them of ways that they can save on their energy costs, and 91 percent were satisfied with the services that they receive from the utility.

    MLGW's Corporate Communications department has been a driving component of this success. Responding to some 500 media inquiries a year, the department consistently communicates the company's message of low rates and conservation, and uses every opportunity to illustrate the company's positioning statement: "Hometown Energy Working for You."

    The department does not retain an outside agency; rather, concept, creative and production is handled in-house for internal and external communication alike. And, as a municipal entity, its limited resources require a good deal of creativity and discipline be applied to its work each and every day. In all, MLGW spends less than 65 cents per residential customer on external communication efforts; this is the lowest of any large public power company in the country.

    The talented staff has a diverse background--from broadcast and non-profit sectors, to agency, healthcare and international organizations. They are active in professional associations and hold leadership roles in local and national organizations. Their efforts have earned the department numerous awards from the Memphis chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, International Association of Business Communicators, and industry associations alike.

  • List hyperlinks to any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that support the claims made in the section above.
    To include a URL you must begin and end the URL with a square-bracket and include http://
    Example: []

  • Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the leader(s) of this nominated functional organization:

    Mark Heuberger, Manager, Corporate Communications and Chief Communications officer is a 23 year veteran of Memphis Light, Gas and Water. He has managed the Corporate Communications department since 1997. Heuberger received a B.A. degree in Journalism in 1978 and an M.A. in Communication Management in 1997, both from the University of Memphis.

    Heuberger is active in many professional and business organizations including the American Public Power Association, Public Relations Society of America and Leadership Collierville.

    Under his leadership, the MLGW Corporate Communications department has won numerous awards for innovative communication programs from several professional and industrial organizations.

    Nicole Ritchie, Supervisor of Corporate Communications, has been with MLGW since 1991. She received a B.S. degree in Journalism from Mississippi University for Women in 1988, and earned Accredited in Public Relations approval from the Public Relations Society of America.