Third weekly live chat: Ask the advice of an energy consultant

Click here to check out my latest weekly business live chat with Richards Energy Group of Manheim, Pa.

At, I’ve done three weekly Friday live chats on our business page. One was with a dating coach. The other allowed readers to ask tax prep questions to a local CPA firm.

I’m trying to use Cover It Live to engage readers in conversation with types of advisers they might have to pay or make an effort to meet with.

The answers get re-purposed into the newspaper as a Q&A, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

This week, we spoke with Peter Richards of York, Pa., a senior energy engineer at Richards Energy Group, a firm that helps businesses looking to lower their energy costs.

I figured this could apply to the average homeowner, too.

We got a smaller crowd for this one — about 35 people — but I’m OK with that.

My editor reminds me that it’s not the number of people engaged, it’s the quality of the engagement. We seemed to maintain a good conversation for about an hour.

In the process, I learned a lot about Cover It Live. Here’s some advice if you try to use it yourself:

1) The person you choose as a “panelist” (in my case, the business expert) can see the reader questions before they are posted. Be sure to remind them not to answer those until they are posted. This caused some confusion over the past few weeks.

2) People don’t realize that their responses don’t get posted instantly.  You have to approve them. I’ve been sending people private messages like “Thanks for participating. We’ll post your question shortly,” so people don’t tune out.

3) Try fun things, like polls, to keep people engaged in the conversation while the expert is carefully concocting responses.

That’s about it.

Next week, we’re chatting with a criminal/civil lawyer a friend of mine found for me.

I’m hoping the promise of “free legal advice” is a draw. We’ll see.









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