While there are very few things that stop or slow down the PR world, if it DOES happen, it’s usually justified. Almost three weeks ago, the Northeast was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, and many New York and New Jersey City citizens were greatly affected by loss of power and/or property. Besides the fact that many businesses were unable to operate, there was a sense of respect and even calm across the United States. For many PR professionals new to the industry, or new to natural disasters, there are ways to continue working efficiently, but, they don’t come without consideration.
Gut check, and check-in: If your client is based in the affected areas, check-in immediately for major updates such as facility closings. In most cases, if your client is able to work, they will – even if it’s remotely. But, if there is city-wide loss of power or other prohibiting factors for good working conditions, then it’s obviously not possible.
Show compassion: It’s OK, and actually encouraged that when you do correspond with outside businesses to show compassion for their current situation. No need to get all emotional, just a simple “How are you? I hope things are getting better your way,” works.
Avoid pitching: For media in the affected areas, getting their personal affairs in order are probably much more important than anything work-related. If they are even able to work, you can expect their response times to be delayed, and attention to calls/emails to be minimal. For media not in the effected areas, you can expect them to seek any and all story ideas related to the disaster.