PR Responding to Natural Disasters

Florida Prepares For Major Hit By Hurricane IrmaIt is no secret that there have been SEVERAL natural disasters this past month. Hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, tornados, etc. With the tragic losses of precious lives, the remaining victims are still pushing through for survival.

As a Public Relations major, I believe that PR professionals should be responding to these natural disasters in a timely fashion as well as helping these targeted communities as best they can. Since PR professionals are passionate for people and breaking news, there are multiple ways to react. Here are five methods for how to properly act on these horrifying events:

1.) Press Release

Getting a press release out as soon as possible is the most beneficial way for people to be in the loop of the natural disaster. For example, Hurricane Irma was a category 5, making history of being the strongest Atlantic hurricane thus far. This being said, Irma was rapidly moving from place to place, destroying everything in its path. If you were not living in Cuba, the Bahamas, Cape Verde, the Southeastern US states, etc, then you were probably not affected by the destruction that took place. Being on the outside looking in kept people on their toes, and they were constantly reaching out to find information regarding the who, what, when, where, why, how questions from the aftermath. The sooner the press release is distributed, the easier it is for people to understand the severity and effects of the storm.

2.) Compassion

Putting the people first is what PR is all about. Being passionate for helping and showing compassion goes a long way. Focusing on the people, destruction, rebuilding, safety, and precautions are a must. If your company sends PR professionals to help restore the affected areas and comfort the victims, then you are making a difference in this world and getting your name out there as well. If more of the population in this world were selfless and compassionate for others, then PR would peak even more. Recruiting volunteers or sending materials will have a positive effect in the long run.

3.) Donations 

Giving a generous donation to the affected areas will truly help and show Christ’s love. Reaching out to churches or local businesses in your community, or starting a trend of sending whatever you can will show how important people are to your PR company. The amount of damage won’t even come close to being restored for a while. However, with enough donations, love, and support, it is quite possible to come close. With big donations, come big thank you’s. This is a great opportunity to get your company’s name out as well as personal branding. If people know that you care, then it will show a huge transformation and outlook on your company as a whole.

4.) Social Media

With the majority of the world being on social media, a great way to keep people updated is through the use of several different platforms. Giving reports, showing pictures, releasing updated information, prayer requests, or featuring quotes from victims, shows how well-educated your company is on major events going on internationally. Using hashtags, locations, tagging people or places, pictures, statuses, tweets, snapchats, etc, gets the word out quickly and updated news for people on the go. Likes and retweets will also spread awareness. Logos are key here.

5.) Be Prepared

Preparation goes a long way. Since there are going to be many more natural disasters in the near future, it is best to prepare for them now. Begin equipping your team for the worst. You never know which areas will be affected, so make sure to have an emergency crisis plan. Also preparing for how the people will react to natural disasters can get your company ready for having new mechanisms for safety, service, or help unlike any other company. Standing out by being bold, being on top of your game, and being understanding will benefit both the company and the people in need. It isn’t always about the branding during the natural disasters. It is about the safety of the people and helping them so they are not as at risk. Evacuations are consistent, but remaining calm and doing everything in your power will show generosity and possible quotes to use later in stories from further witnesses.

Written by: Lindsy Hentschel, Junior Account Executive, Exploration Station… A Children’s Museum

Visit Lindsy’s blog here:



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