Matter Chatter

Musing from the Great Flood of 2010

Oh, the great flood of 2010. Friends and family from around the country reached out asking if we needed help, if we were evacuating. Over at my house, we didn’t get a drip of water in the basement. At my grandparents’ house it was another story. They live in a raised ranch in Warwick, Rhode Island – just 20 minutes away from me and their first floor was destroyed when the Pawtuxet River flooded and sent more than four feet of water in their house. Once the water receded my family spent the weekend trying to recover whatever personal property we could. It didn’t amount to much but I spent hours taking soaked photos from frames and albums hoping to save them; including a picture of my gramma as a baby.

So what’s this have to do with PR? Well, I found myself thinking about all the photos and memorabilia I have at home, mainly from my college and high school days, that sit in albums and boxes completely vulnerable to Mother Nature’s whim. I really need to digitize and back those memories up….and write a pitch about that.

When I came back to work on Monday after the cleanup, I typed up a quick pitch and shared with my team who reminded me that while I was ready to jump on this opportunity, perhaps I should consider that folks are still recovering and I should be more sensitive. People lost their homes and possessions, roads were destroyed. So I thought on it a bit and decided that while backing up your photos and videos may not be the most important take away from the disaster, it’s important nonetheless and people will want to know about services available to them. (I hope to see that translate into some great coverage very soon.) Days later, my sister, who recently transplanted herself to Southern California, found herself running for a doorway during her first earthquake. That pitch is getting a lot of mileage lately…

Experiences in times of disaster vary from person-to-person and as long as the pitch is written with respect and in the proper context, it’s not only appropriate but it’s out of obligation to our clients that we get the information out there in a timely fashion.

So what do you think? Is there ever an appropriate time or way to “capitalize” on natural disaster? I’d love to hear your stories!