Frankenstorm Unleashes Tidal Wave Of PR Sluttiness
By James King Fri., Oct. 26 2012 at 4:35 PM
Categories: Weather Or Not
Do you happen to be a PR stooge who represents a climatologist, weather expert, hurricane survivor, or pretty much anyone who’s ever encountered rain? If so, you probably sent out an email today to every media outlet in New York City trying to exploit what could potentially be a devastating natural disaster to get your guy or gal a little ink.
Since 6:30 this morning, as Hurricane Sandy builds up steam in the Caribbean, we’ve received at least a dozen offers from public relations shops to do things like teach us “more about how the electric power industry is preparing its response,” or to speak with a real life meteorologist, or to take pictures of MTA employees “affixing plywood covers to subway ventilation grates.”
As thrilling as plywood covers and power plant preparedness sounds, we’ve got paint drying that’s not gonna watch itself.
Then, of course, there are the global warming folks who claim that the impending doom is the result of climate change — and are using the upcoming hurricane to push their agenda. They, however, actually hit us with some interesting statistics about hurricanes.
From the scientists at Climate Nexus:
-Of the 11 most intense North Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded, five have occurred in the last eight years (Wilma, Rita, Katrina, Dean and Ivan).
-The record-breaking rainfall dumped by Hurricane Irene in 2011 was the main impact of the storm in which flooding and other damage totaled over $15 billion, making Irene the 10th billion-dollar disaster in 2011 and the sixth most expensive hurricane in U.S. history.
-With more than $100 billion in damages, Hurricane Katrina remains the costliest weather-related disaster on record.
-In June 2012, tropical cyclone Debby produced record-breaking rainfall across Florida, in some locations dropping over 20 inches of rain in 24 hours. When Tropical Storm Debby formed on June 23, it was the first time ever that four storms formed before July since record keeping began in 1851.
-According to data from 2007, the number of category 4 and 5 hurricanes has increased by nearly 75% since 1970.
Look, the weather’s gonna suck next week. We could talk to all the climatologists on earth — and watch the MTA put plywood on every ventilation grate in New York — but nobody will know how bad this storm is going to suck until it hits. Or it doesn’t.
The PR hacks can spend the weekend working overtime to freak everybody out. We’re just gonna batten down the hatches, grab a beer, and expect to get a little wet come Sunday.
PR Opportunities vs. Opportunism in a Natural Disaster
By Jamar Hudson, PR News
As the East Coast gets swept by Hurricane Sandy, information from every angle is being presented by the media to the public—from analyzing the impact of the storm to offering tips on how to best survive it.
Of course, deep in this media mix are PR pros who are offering up expert clients, making them part of the Sandy conversation.
However, in a natural disaster, how much PR is too much? Communicators have a responsibility to promote their brands and clients, even in the midst of a storm. But where should the line be drawn?
A recent article in the Village Voice has questioned the practices of PR pros in the lead-up to the hurricane. The article, “Frankenstorm Unleashes Tidal Wave of PR Sluttiness,” suggests that PR pros who are trying to get their climatologist, weather expert or hurricane survivor some coverage are exploiting “what could potentially be a devastating natural disaster to get your guy or gal a little ink.”
When a big event rivets the public (as is the case with Sandy), PR pros are wired to sense and move on opportunities to promote their clients and brands and get their valuable messages out. To complain about these efforts shows a lack of understanding of the role PR plays in connecting journalists with expert sources, a connection that often benefits both parties and, in the case of natural disasters, the public itself.