PR: The Good, Bad and Ugly
What Did Hurricane Isaac’s Media Coverage Reveal About Post-Katrina Disaster Management?
by Jake Potter on 09/05/2012
I remember where I was when I read the first coverage of Hurricane Katrina's devastation on the Gulf Coast -- sitting in a quiet newsroom in North Carolina in fall 2005, it seemed so far away but the impact was obvious and broad. Seven years removed, we have a much better grasp on the PR perils of not having a proactive and engaged response in place.
I watched television coverage of Hurricane Isaac's arrival in New Orleans last week from a hotel room in London. I felt that same sense of detachment juxtaposed with concern -- only the storm was several thousand miles away this time.
What caught my attention?
The emergency response had a high degree of self-awareness. Even in prepared statements, there were obvious references to lessons learned from Katrina. The New Orleans Times-Picayune said "it's worth taking a few minutes to praise government, and the people who oversee it. Seriously."
Many of the emergency responders who are assisting in post-Isaac cleanup were there for Katrina, too. Some themselves had homes in the path of both storms. It would be a disservice not to acknowledge those details -- and the fact that the disaster management manuals were up-to-date.
The volume of crisis communication ahead of the storm changed the media's tone. I saw fewer stories about what FEMA's response would be, or how Gov. Bobby Jindal would be personally involved -- mostly because those storylines were clearly articulated. Instead, the articles and TV segments turned toward what residents should be doing on an individual basis.
What did you think of the media coverage surrounding Hurricane Isaac?
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Photo source: Karen Apricot