Thursday, Jan. 23 — While he is “pleased to see changes underway” as the Board of Water and Light improves its contact with customers following last month’s ice storm, state Rep. Sam Singh said today the utility’s communication team needs new leadership.
“There needs to be changes in the communication department at the Board of Water and Light,” the East Lansing Democrat said today. “If you ask anybody — from the average citizen to even people involved with the Board of Water and Light — I think they will tell you that communications failed during this storm. As you rebuild the communications side of the BWL, for the future I think you need new leadership.”
Singh declined to say who specifically should be let go. When asked if he was referring to communications director Steve Serkaian, Singh said: “I’ll leave that to the Board of Commissioners.”
Singh made a similar statement this morning on WKAR's “Current State.” "I think they probably need a new person heading up their communications," Singh said on the program.
In response to the public outcry on this front, the BWL announced it would hire a full-time social media manager. It has also entered into a reportedly $45,000 contract with local PR firm Martin/Waymire to improve its communications.
The State Journal reported this week that Serkaian "intended" to develop a proper crisis communications plan in his two years at the BWL and "accepted responsibility for not following through."
Specifically, Singh referred to the BWL’s “not having an adequate crisis communication plan” and its “poor communication” via social media.
“When I see the mayor of East Lansing (Nathan Triplett) Facebooking and Tweeting more on this issue than the Board of Water and Light, that’s a concern to me,” he said.