Monday, July 31, 2006

StormWarning Mailed

Every story should have a beginning, middle and end. This one has a past, a present and a future.

A lot of clients had field teams and other personnel working in remote locations in the Gulf Coast and lost track of some of them during 2005’s big hurricanes, Katrina and Rita. The landscape looked like a war zone – or Noah’s flood. Thousands of people evacuated without ways to contact their companies or families. Conscientious companies took out “Contact Us” ads and ran them in area newspapers.

People down here know this is serious. I started working with disaster communications ideas this past spring (see “Employees First,” here). Research aside, I thought there might be other ways to help companies keep in touch with their employees during an area-wide emergency. There was.

For the 2006 hurricane season, the president of Premier Company, Martha Justice, and I invented the StormWarning* package. We think it’s an easy way firms can help employees and customers stay in contact in any emergency, not “just” a hurricane.

This is a two-part piece, a self-mailer with a Wallet Card inside. The self-mailer format is the delivery vehicle. Your company can customize it with your own message and mail it to employees and their families, even customers.

(Last year, cell towers were knocked out, landlines drowned, computer systems failed – and mail couldn’t be delivered. That’s why we hope companies will get their own StormWarning cards out before the next storm hits.)

Personalize the detachable Wallet Card with your company’s emergency contact info: phone and fax, pager and Skype, special website urls – you name it. Your people can keep these vital cards close by, in their wallets or purses, if a storm or an evacuation prevents people from getting at their own information sources (like the emergency numbers taped onto a refrigerator in a flooded home).

Justice put Premier’s printing and mailing capabilities into the project, I wrote the copy and Design at Work created the arresting “sample” mailer and card you see above. 4,000 StormWarning packages (delivery mailer + Wallet Card) have already been mailed to corporate decision-makers at companies throughout the Gulf Coast.

Doing your own StormWarning package is easy because we designed it to be. E-mail Premier the unique text and contact info you want to include on the mailer and Wallet Card; as well as your own employee or customer database. Premier will take it from there to print; then address and mail the pieces.

Now about good timing: Tuesday, August 9th, the American Marketing Association-Houston luncheon will feature Mike Strecker, Director of Public Relations at Tulane University. His subject is “Crisis Communications: Keeping Your Head above the Water.”

I’m going to hear what he has to say and you should too: there are more ideas out there for companies who want to safeguard their employees’ safety and well-being.

To get all the details, click on the link in the paragraph above or e-mail Amanda P. Gatell at To get your own StormWarning sample, e-mail Mark Sullivan at Premier,

The future’s going to blow in any day now at 100 miles per hour. Be prepared.

*“StormWarning” is a trademark. All rights reserved. Thanks to Premier Company and its team. Excellent.


Linda Krupps said...

It’s a great idea, and very much needed. You’ve taught me too well and three years ago I instituted a similar card with various numbers, including a centralized number which my department updated, to keep employees keyed in to what was going on.

It worked relatively well during Katrina but we still needed to do some tweaking. We have updated our HR records, called PeopleSoft, to reflect emergency contacts other than immediate family members (mine, for instance, is my mother in PA) and home email addresses. Also, since I wrote the emergency handbook and all emergency team members, yours truly included, must know how to and have access to text messaging. Revolutionary, huh? Surprising how many companies aren’t ready. You’ll get a good response, I’m sure.

Linda Krupps said...

Please add anything we’ve done here to your recommendations when you talk to these companies. It’s very frustrating … the inability to find your employees during catastrophes.