In 1994, I moved from journalism into public relations with Southern Company, the largest producer of electricity in the United States. I began in media relations, with a focus on environmental communications. I eventually became media relations manager and then communications director for Southern Company subsidiary Southern Energy, which was spun off in an initial public offering as Mirant in January 2001.
During my time in public relations, I developed expertise in message planning and execution. At Southern Energy/Mirant, this often was done in support of the siting and construction of new power plants in China, the Philippines, and throughout North and South America and the Caribbean.
I also was successful in a particularly difficult area of public relations known as “low-trust, high-concern communications.” Put simply, the client is not trusted by the audience, and the concerns of the audience have to be overcome for the message to be accepted.
Obviously, much of this communications work was sensitive and proprietary. Such work is best done with extensive message planning performed up front. This planning should result in a key message supported by a limited number of points. Frankly, there is an art to getting the key message right. If your first step is in the wrong direction, it’s hard to arrive at the destination you desire.
I can provide several executive references from my public relations days, and a basic internet search on “Chuck Griffin” combined with “Southern Company,” “Southern Energy” or “Mirant” still brings up evidence of my work as a spokesman.