Written by OTELCO Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Tracy Scheckel
As everyone knows, OTELCO serves communities in multiple states – including Alabama, where we’re almost done building Fiber to the Premise to 4,100 locations. I thought it would be a good time to make an extended trip to our Arab, AL office to do what I call a “marketing blitz.” Being smarty pants, I picked what are typically the four coldest weeks in Maine (mid-January to mid-February) to go south. By the way, I was totally wrong in thinking that those four weeks skirted tornado season in Alabama, but that’s another story.
As early as last October, I began to set up my calendar for the trip. I coordinate with the community to schedule Lunch ‘n’ Learns, to teach local businesses about Lightwave, presentations with Chambers of Commerce and Rotary Clubs, visits Arab Rec sporting events with Lightwave material and the recording of an informational video about the Arab build.
Brindlee Mountain Primary School Donation
When I arrived at our Arab office on January 20th, Roxanne Stewart, one of our Customer Care reps, told me about a January 11th tornado that wiped out the Brindlee Mountain Primary School (BMPS) in Union Grove. Roxanne heard at Sunday service that all the items that teachers typically purchase themselves and everything else, for that matter, was lost. She asked if OTELCO might contribute to a fund to help the school back on its feet.
I made a call and sent out an email or two, and within an hour, senior management agreed to make a substantial donation. The school’s principal, Terry Allen, provided a teachers’ wish list that included everything from construction paper to Chromebook computers.
OTELCO decided to purchase 31 Chromebooks and gave staff the opportunity to contribute money or gift cards. When all was said and done, we delivered the Chromebooks and $655 in gift cards and cash on February 7th. Delivering the donation and meeting with the students and staff of BMPS was absolutely the highlight of my trip.
Working with the Arab Community
While the BMPS donation arrangements were taking shape, we hosted a Lunch ‘n’ Learn for a couple of local business representatives, made a presentation to the Arab Rotary Club, and met with the Arab Chamber Board of Directors to share the news about Lightwave.
Before the four weeks passed, I spent some time with Melissa Cook, the Director of Economic Development in Arab to discuss ways to work with various apartment managers to streamline getting Lightwave into the complexes in Arab.
In most of our service footprints, we underwrite basic computer classes that are offered free of charge to the public. Getting things going for a program in Arab was on the to-do lit for this visit, and after a meeting with Arab City Schools Technology Coordinator, Brian Quillin, I’m happy to say that we’re working on a program to begin in the fall of 2020.
Exciting New Things in the Works
Speaking of Oneonta, I did spend some time there to film that video I mentioned and to do some recording work on a new project that you’ll be hearing about soon.
While in Oneonta, Trevor Jones and I took the opportunity to meet with the City Manager Ed Lowe, after he and the city council shared an amazing redevelopment plan for the downtown area. We wanted to learn more about the plans and see how we might help. We had a great exchange of ideas, so more to come on that.
Part of the reason that Trevor was in town was to introduce Cathy Johnston, our Director of Sales. While there, they conducted interviews for an account executive to provide more personalized service to our existing and new business customers in Alabama. There were several well-qualified candidates, so expect an introduction sometime soon!
OTELCO Customer Care is Everywhere
It was a busy month for sure; one of my coworkers in Maine asked how it felt to cram a years’ worth of marketing into a month. It’s the years’ worth of weather that was the challenge! I experienced snow, tornado warnings, floods from more than 8 inches of rain, and 2 or 3 sunny 70-degree days — all in the span of 4 weeks.
I did learn a lot, not the least of which, that it’s always tornado season in Alabama! But, other than the tornados here and the occasional blizzard or ice storm up north, about the only differences between south and the northeast are the local accents and the growing season (the daffodils are blooming in Alabama).
One commonality that is abundantly clear to me is that everyone on the OTELCO team, no matter their location OR their ‘accent’, has one goal in mind – to do their best to serve you. If you call us and end up speaking to someone from a different region, (the accent might be the giveaway) it’s likely because the local call center phones are really busy and rather than keep you waiting in the queue, we’ve sent your call to one of our other call centers. I can assure you that whoever answers the phone, no matter what their accent, they will do their absolute best to assist you. We’re all the same that way!