Should You Market Into a Disaster?

Last week, I heard from many in my network wondering if I was in the path of Hurricane Florence.

Savannah went in and out of the cone! We got lucky this time, although there are many just north of us who are not so lucky and the crisis is not over for them.

But the whole thing got me thinking about whether (and how) to market into a hurricane.

I’ve often wondered if I should speak out or go silent during national or international events, whether natural disasters or political uproars. 

I remember Hurricane Sandy, which hit New Jersey when I lived there in 2012. That week I was actually at a HOW Design Conference and ended up missing the storm entirely. I did send out a message from San Francisco and I got a record-breaking response.

Why? Because people care and want to know what’s going on!

What I wondered last week when I was in the middle of it all:

  • Should I capitalize on the fact that I’ve got your attention to let you know about my latest offering?
  • Should I link to my latest podcast episode?
  • Or should I just use it as an opportunity to connect and let you know what’s going on where I am?

My position, for the moment, is that it’s better to reach out. And because email is such a personal and direct, one-to-one communication format, it’s ideal when it comes to letting people know what’s going on, especially if it’s done in a genuine way and without taking advantage of the situation -- that can be a tricky line to walk. 

I find people crave personal connection more and more lately. We want to hear from real (rather than robotic) voices. So if you can provide that, do so, any way you can.

Here's what I said in my email message last week, as Hurricane Florence was heading toward the East Coast:

So, here on the ground in Savannah I can tell you that people are very calm and don’t seem concerned. There’s plenty of food and water in the supermarkets. And I’ve got my weather radio and lots of water, peanut butter and granola. Last night I cooked everything in my fridge. I have generous neighbors who’ve been through this before so as a relative newcomer to the South, I’m learning how to cope with the weather.

When I sent this as an email (perhaps you got it), several people shared their concern and thanked me for reaching out. A few generous souls even offered me a place to stay if I needed it. 

Plus, I got some very useful hurricane tips, which I've posted below -- you never know when those will come in handy.  

Hurricane tips

I recommend fleeing water and hunkering down against the wind.  If you live below the expected surge, leave for higher ground.

These are things that can help make your life easier if your power is out for an extended amount of time.

  • Batteries for a flashlight or lantern.
  • Crank (or solar when the sun comes back out) phone charger.
  • Put your phone in low-battery mode once it's charged to 100% before the storm—you can go a step further by putting it in airplane mode when you’re not making a call.
  • Fill your bathtub with water to use for flushing the toilet and other needs.
  • Have some almost-full water bottles in the freezer for solid blocks of ice you can then put into your fridge to keep food cold longer
  • Non-electric games and books to help pass the time
  • Afterward, be very careful walking outside, as there can be downed power lines hidden in the grass, loose limbs about to fall, just be aware of your surroundings.
  • Pop tarts! :D