Thursday, July 25, 2024

CFPUA may scale back PR role after communication officer starts own firm

According to its former chief communication officer, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has turned public relations around over the last four years. (Port City Daily photo)
According to its former chief communication officer, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has turned public relations around over the last four years. (Port City Daily file photo)

WILMINGTON  — The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s chief communication officer stepped down on Friday in a move that seemed to signal the end of a contentious era for the CFPUA.

After four-and-half years, former Chief Communication Officer Mike McGill stepped away from the CFPUA to take the reins as president of WaterPIO, a new communications firm serving the water and sewer industry.

McGill said he had long considered starting WaterPIO, but that the shift in the public’s relationship with CFPUA had finally made it possible.

“I was at CFPUA for almost five years and … when I got there things were very different,” McGill said. “People really did take their badges off before leaving work, that’s how bad it was. There was some real animosity between the customers and the authority. A lot of that had to do with the lack of communication in the past. But, four years later, I feel like that animosity is gone, and communication is much better.”

CFPUA is McGill’s first private client; WaterPIO will be writing annual reports for the Authority. However, according to McGill, this will be the extent of WaterPIO’s involvement.

McGill suggested that, because CFPUA has stabilized its relationship with customers in New Hanover County, it may not need the same “intense and full-time” services he provided.

“I think the authority is in a good place where customers are getting the information they want,” McGill said. “I think breaking up my previous role and letting a few individuals handle it would be sufficient.”

CFPUA said in a release that McGill’s role would be “vacant in the short term,” while CFPUA Executive Administrator Lindsey Hallock temporarily handles communication duties. CFPUA said it would continue to send out traffic updates and boil water advisories.

There was no official word on whether CFPUA would maintain the chief communications officer post held by McGill.

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