|When in doubt, overpack|
|Monday, 11 September 2006 19:00|
By Ann Christian, APR, president, Ann Christian Public Relations
Like many others, I fled New Orleans in the wee hours of Aug. 28. Figuring I would be back in two days, packing consisted of stuffing an extra golf shirt, pair of pants and pajamas into an overnight bag. I grabbed my laptop, put my dog in the car, boarded up the house and left.
My planned two-day evacuation ended up being three months. In the two weeks following Hurricane Katrina, I slept in seven different cities, bouncing from friends to family to hotels. My business was gone. When reality hit that I wasn’t going home, I ended up driving to Denver to stay with my brother. Close to 1,900 miles of driving later, the only thing I knew was that I owned a laptop, two pairs of pants, two shirts and a pair of pajamas.
One moment I was a PR specialist in New Orleans, the next an evacuee in Denver. I began to crave normalcy, so I called a PR firm to see if they needed some temporary help. I got a positive response, and shortly thereafter I met with the agency president. Sounds normal, right? It wasn’t until I was sitting in the waiting area of JohnstonWells, Inc., a Denver-based PR firm, shaking the hand of the president, that it occured to me. I was making my first impression in a rumpled pair of khaki pants, tennis shoes that had seen better days and a golf shirt that somewhere along the evacuation route had acquired a noticeable stain. I had been in the same clothes for so long that I didn’t even think about what I was wearing. At that point, what could I do? I laughed, apologized for my jumbled appearance and quickly added, “It was either this or my pajamas.”
I can’t say enough about the great folks at JohnstonWells. They took me in and promised to give me some work to keep me busy. In return, I promised to go buy some new clothes.
Now that we are in another hurricane season, I can say there have been many lessons learned. For me, it comes down to: The next time I evacuate, I’ll pack more clothes.
This article originally appeared in PR Tactics and The Strategist Online.