PR Opportunities vs. Opportunism in a Natural Disaster

As the East Coast gets swept by Hurricane Sandy, information from every angle is being presented by the media to the public—from analyzing the impact of the storm to offering tips on how to best survive it.

Of course, deep in this media mix are PR pros who are offering up expert clients, making them part of the Sandy conversation. 

However, in a natural disaster, how much PR is too much? Communicators have a responsibility to promote their brands and clients, even in the midst of a storm. But where should the line be drawn?

A recent article in the Village Voice has questioned the practices of PR pros in the lead-up to the hurricane. The article, "Frankenstorm Unleashes Tidal Wave of PR Sluttiness," suggests that PR pros who are trying to get their climatologist, weather expert or hurricane survivor some coverage are exploiting “what could potentially be a devastating natural disaster to get your guy or gal a little ink.”

When a big event rivets the public (as is the case with Sandy), PR pros are wired to sense and move on opportunities to promote their clients and brands and get their valuable messages out. To complain about these efforts shows a lack of understanding of the role PR plays in connecting journalists with expert sources, a connection that often benefits both parties and, in the case of natural disasters, the public itself.

Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson




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