The very first issue of Utility Magazine was published in February 2014, but the idea for the magazine came about years earlier, when publisher, Chris Bland, saw a need for a publication that connected utilities from across the water, energy, gas and telecommunications sectors, and allowed them to share knowledge across their diverse fields. Here we explore the journey of Utility over the past ten years, and delve into how it became the go-to publication that it is today.
Although there was strong communication within sectors, Chris noticed that there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for utilities from different industries to share knowledge with each other. With this idea in mind, he started researching what it is that binds Australia’s utilities together, and what each sector could offer the others.
The next task was to identify and build a readership. Chris went about the task of reaching out to key players at all of the utilities around Australia so that they would all receive a copy of the magazine, either in print, online, or both, when the first issue was published.
However, to ensure that Utility could deliver on its promise to be a voice for the industry, it was important that the magazine didn’t just go to the right people, but that the content was relevant to them. Chris sought out the key issues that Australian utilities were interested in, and invested the time and effort into creating high quality content that was based around the current events and problems that they were faced with.
The very first issue of Utility included interviews with Sydney Water’s then Managing Director, Kevin Young, and former Jemena Managing Director, Paul Adams, as well as contributions from utilities across all states and sectors, including Ergon Energy, nbn, Western Power and Yarra Valley Water.
When that initial edition reached its audience of industry professionals, its immediate success exceeded even Chris’ expectations. Today, Utility has cemented itself as the voice that the industry turns to for thought-leading content, reaching more than 70,000 readers across our print, e-newsletter, website and social media channels each quarter.
To maximise reach and knowledge sharing of each edition, and to ensure that we’re constantly in the know about pressing issues, the Utility team make a point of attending all of the major industry events every year, including WIOA, OzWater, Energy Networks, Australian Energy Week, Smart Energy Conference and Exhibition. The opportunity that the events provide to learn from leaders in the industry and connect with our readers and advertisers in person is something that we value highly.
As the industry shifted, and the conversation turned towards technology and impact that it was having on the industry, Chris once again saw a real need for a space where utilities can come together and share the challenges and opportunities of digitisation.
In 2018, the Digital Utilities event was launched, bringing together a program of experts to share their knowledge and discuss how they grappled with the challenges of modernising existing networks, work practices and customer interactions. The conference was a success, and was held again in 2019.
A week ahead of the scheduled 2020 event, the COVID lockdowns struck, and the team had to work quickly to transform Digital Utilities into a virtual conference, a format which was then continued in 2021 and 2022. Throughout the turbulence of 2020, the support of Utility’s readers and advertisers underscored both the value of the magazine and of the sector itself, and really showcased just how important a role the industry plays.
“I can’t stress enough just how much we appreciate the ongoing support that our readers, contributors and advertisers have shown us over the years, particularly during the COVID19 pandemic,” Chris said. “While the utility sector perhaps isn’t the most glamorous of industries, the unprecedented circumstances of 2020 really showcased the criticality of the essential services they provide, and just how important the work undertaken by everyone in the sector is.”
As the company grew and Monkey Media embraced new opportunities, Chris handed over the editor reins to Charlotte Pordage in August 2018, who became well-known in the industry until she moved on from the role in November 2021, passing the torch to Jessica Dickers. I took over Utility as editor in 2023, and I’m excited to continue to build on the brand that the previous editors have worked tirelessly to create.
Over the past ten years Monkey Media has launched a number of new magazines, including Infrastructure, Energy, Council and Mining, and of course its founding title, Pump Industry. However Utility remains the largest, and most widely read of its titles. We’ve also expanded our offerings and now act as a full marketing agency for a number of companies in the industry helping to manage their marketing and create unique content, custom newsletters and social campaigns websites and more.
A huge thank you to all our readers, contributors and advertisers for their support over the past ten years, and we look forward to continuing to provide the best possible content, from the most qualified experts in the utility space for another ten and beyond.