By Nick LaPlaca, Account Coordinator, R&J Public Relations
In life, we must prepare to weather the storm. In no time in recent memory has that been as true as it was with Hurricane Sandy. We were offered a first-hand look at how a lack of preparation, ignorance of information and reprehensible procrastination combined to create a perfect storm which rivaled that of the Sandy herself.
Governor Christie pulled no punches when criticizing Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford for inviting residents to stay in the city during the storm, and I too will give the disillusioned mayor no reprieve. That being said, I am not an elected official, nor am I familiar with the infrastructure of Atlantic City, or any city for that matter. What I am is a Public Relations professional, and what I do have is practical experience in weathering storms, in which I impart this knowledge unto you Mayor Langford.
- Prepare for winter in spring — It should seem no surprise that a beach community on the eastern seaboard is susceptible to hurricanes — the same way it should seem no surprise that a medical practice is susceptible to a malpractice suit, or that a tech company is susceptible to a patent dispute. If you have not spent your sunny days preparing for rain than you sir, have not done your job.
- Do not stay aboard a sinking ship — As admirable and optimistic as it may seem, it is simply poor leadership to invite people to stay aboard a sinking ship. Your constituents, much the same as our clients, need to know when to board their lifeboats. It is up to you to steer them away from titanic disaster, even when that means making the tough calls.
- Ignorance is not bliss — The key to weathering any storm is to stay informed. If you are not consistently staying updated with the latest information and making it a priority to be one step ahead of the storm, then I assure you, you have already lost. In this world there is one thing that will always be true, that is “improvise/adapt/survive.”
- Communication is key — It is your job to consistently provide the public with clear and accurate information. Any failure to do so is a detriment to those who look to you for leadership in their time of need. If you can not produce a message that can penetrate even the densest members of your audience, than you have failed at a fundamental level.
So Mayor Langford, as you begin to pick up the pieces of both your city and your career, the likes of which have never seen such devastation, I beg of you, for the lives and livelihoods of those who call Atlantic City home, to heed my warning. And if you would ever like advice on how to weather a storm, my door is always open.