In 2005 New Orleans was devastated when Hurricane Katrina hit. In the years since then I’ve naively thought, that if a disaster were to affect our community again, we would have some warning -our threat would be a hurricane (of course) and they don’t just pop up.
Recently we got a stern reminder that Mother Nature doesn’t always ring first, giving you time to gather what’s most important. Baton Rouge, our state capitol, less than 100 miles away was a wake-up call. In August when a storm stalled on top of the area, the rain started coming and kept coming. Ultimately more than 30 inches of rain fell in parts of the area; this volume amounted to a 1 in a 1,000 year event. The storm caused an estimated $10 billion dollars in property damage and more than $275 million in crop damage. Your heart breaks knowing what they are working through and knowing how long the recovery may take.
In the years since Katrina, much has changed; not just for us as media buyers and media planners, but the world. Back in the day we scrambled in the hours leading up to the hurricane. Professionally we grabbed backup drives and the few laptops we had. We couldn’t do anything about the credenzas bursting with vendor media kits or the research and software saved to the server itself. In our rush we overlooked critical documents like checks (even though payroll was due only days later) and we failed to consider the value (or lack thereof) of backup drives without a server to read them. Cell phones had only become main stream a few years earlier and were not yet a staple of communication in any world, let alone in business.
Today we’ve become much more agile as a society and as an industry. The media and audience research software and data analytics are now hosted virtually by the various vendors, we issue payroll via direct deposit, and most of our vendors are paid via a payment file. All of our research, presentations, media plans and contact lists are now kept in the cloud. Each employee knows that if things go bad; take the laptop, if it can help you take advantage of a day off during Mardi Gras it can also keep everything moving seamlessly when the issues are much bigger. Cell phones are now prevalent in everything we do.
We are fortunate to love everything about the Advertising Industry, Media Buying and Planning, but we have evolved due to both the times and out of lessons learned. We have strategically put systems in place to eliminate interruptions in our business and also any interruption of our media buying services that could impact our clients. Mother Nature doesn’t knock, so we must always be ready.