At the beginning of August I was in Traverse City for the annual Management Briefing Seminars hosted by the Center for Automotive Research (CAR). On Sunday night we were preparing for the week’s conference when one of the worst storms I’ve experienced rolled through the area. High winds (I heard reports of 80+ miles per hour), hail and pouring rain knocked out trees and power lines. The power stayed out for a little more than 24 hours. This left everyone wondering if the conference would be cancelled and how we would do our jobs.
A power outage forces you to become resourceful. With no cell phones, Wi-Fi or electricity, it was like a day-in-the-life of an old school PR pro. Cell phones became flashlights (I heard a rumor that the flashlight app was the most downloaded app during that 24 hour period). The Grand Traverse Resort hung glow-sticks by each hotel room so conference attendees staying at the hotel could see their room number. To conserve cell phone batteries, landline telephones (yes, the epitome of old school still exists outside your office) were used. Attendees carried on more face-to-face conversations. And printed media materials were not left abandoned in the media center in favor of their digital counterparts.
Power is out #carmbs. Kinda fun
— Ann Marie (@AMFortunate) August 2, 2015
And as for the conference, as they say in show business – the show must go on! CAR staff found generators and we were up and running on about 50 percent power for the afternoon sessions.
Once the lights came back on, I realized there were a few lessons we can learn from some of the old school PR practices:
- Printed media materials are still important – whether there’s a power outage or you need to reference facts quickly, it’s a good idea to have a few printed copies on hand.
- Consider adding a flashlight, extra batteries and a mobile device charger to your event bag.
- Relationship building is still key – really channel the old school PR persona, put your phone down and give people your full attention.
- Keep a cheat sheet of media names and contact numbers in case you can’t access your phone or laptop.
- If your clothes are wrinkled, in lieu of an iron, turn on the hot water in the bathroom and the steam will smooth out the wrinkles.
- Be sure to have pen (or for those of you who are really old school – a pencil) and paper on hand to take notes.
- Have a back-up plan! Use the power outage to your advantage like the Grand Prix Social Media team did during the rainstorm.
Do you have any old school tricks you still use in your job? Tell us about it in the comments below.