If you are a public relations practitioner that does media relations, you know that for the next few days there won’t be much room any “other news” bedsides that of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall.
Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the hurricane’s landfall over the Gulf Coast. A few weeks later, Hurricane Rita slammed into Beaumont, Texas, and surrounding areas, further complicating an already complicated situations.
It is a good time to peg on the current news, to make sense of the tragedy at the local level and, if it is warranted, to show where your organization shines in spite of the tragedy.
Open up your newspaper today (yes the printed one) and take a look at the types of stories that are running. As an example, in the San Antonio Express News there was a story about professionals that have relocated here from the city from New Orleans, which is also a great story about the Cancer Research and Therapy Center.
In the online world, it is a little harder to revisit the tragedy and get a cohesive picture. However, Lost Remote sent me to a great resource called the Hurricane’s Rita and Katrina Web Archive via Cyberjournalist, that will help to save the online experience of the storms for “historians, researchers, scholars and the general public.” And I would add journalists and organizations to the list of those that will benefit from the information.
With Hurricane Ernesto bearing down on the U.S. to, as Ike Pigott said, take on “undocumented alien” status, all eyes and most media outlets in the U.S. will have their eye to the sky during this season.
That said, reporters, especially columnists, that cover other beats might be looking for good stories right now to fill out their columns and sections. So, don’t give up on coverage over the next few weeks, just get a little more focused, maybe pitching instead of blasting out news releases.
And if you company has a logical and tasteful tie-in, let the news media know about it. If it has a visual elements, invite the local (or national) media to take it in. Above all, be sensitive in your pitching.
And to my Red Cross friends, who are staring down Ernesto, keep the faith.
Photo credit: Larry Towell
To see his moving photo essay, with more pictures and videos set to music and audio interviews, visit Towell's photo essay, In the Wake of Katrina.