Winning awards for its magazine year after year is great, says Marlboro Electric Cooperative CEO William L. “Bill” Fleming, but that’s not why MEC publishes South Carolina Living.
“We do it to benefit our members,” Fleming says. “One of the Cooperative Principles is Education and Information for member-consumers. The magazine gives us a way to keep members up to date on news about the electricity industry as well as MEC and the communities it serves.”
He praised Marketing and Communications Representative Christy Overstreet, who serves as MEC’s co-op news editor, for keeping the MEC edition of South Carolina Living informative and entertaining. “Your success benefits our members. You keep them well informed. The articles are entertaining to read. They’re attractive to the readers.”
As co-op news editor, Overstreet writes, edits and plans much of the content for MEC’s local pages of South Carolina Living. Magazine staffers at the co-op’ state association help MEC and other co-ops around the state also contribute to the magazine, which is mailed to about 470,000 homes and businesses, reaching over 1 million readers eleven times a year.
Four straight wins
To encourage co-ops and to give them useful feedback, the state association sponsors a Co-op News Awards competition each year. For four consecutive years, Marlboro Electric has won the first place Award of Excellence for its size category. MEC also received Excellence honors six other years since the inception of the Co-op News Awards in 2000, including a first place award in 2007.
This year the judges, all seasoned communications veterans with electric co-ops and co-op publications in other states, also awarded Marlboro Electric a special prize, the Best Use of Photography award. The co-op has earned the photography award and other special honors five times since 2000.
One judge noted that Marlboro’s magazine content “seems to cover everything. The writing is good and shows the editor cares and plans,” the judge wrote. Overstreet’s work has also earned recognition from the Cooperative Communicators Association, the Council of Rural Electric Communicators and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Big news for 2014
For Overstreet, all editorial planning must achieve one simple goal: “Appealing to readers,” as she says. “When they receive the magazine in the mail, they should look forward to it.”
She strives to keep the MEC co-op news pages of South Carolina Living full of timely, useful information about community events, co-op members and employees. Stories report the co-op’s work on behalf of its member-owners, from improvements to MEC’s electric distribution system to its economic development efforts in Marlboro and Dillon counties.
Keeping members informed will be crucial in 2014, Fleming added, noting that MEC and other co-ops are closely monitoring policy proposed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set stringent limits on carbon dioxide emissions from future coal or natural gas plants.
“The EPA’s plans could drastically impact electricity consumers. We’ll use South Carolina Living and other co-op communications to keep members up to date on this and anything else that can affect their power bills,” he said. “Be sure to read your magazine for the latest news.”
About South Carolina Living
South Carolina Living is the state’s largest circulation publication, reaching about 470,000 homes and businesses served by the Palmetto State’s independent, consumer-owned electric cooperatives.
The print version of the Marlboro Electric Cooperative edition is mailed to each of MEC’s approximately 6,500 members. The co-op also posts the entire magazine in digital form on its website, web.marlboroelectric.net. Some statewide content and special online features such as videos and reader contests is available at scliving.coop.
The print magazine, published since the early Sixties, recently received eight awards from the Statewide Editors Association of electric co-op publications. South Carolina Living took top honors for Best Magazine Design, Best Technical Feature Writing, Best Entertaining Feature and Best Website.
Meanwhile, the South Carolina Living Facebook page celebrates our state, currently attracting more than 60,000 followers — and counting.