Topic: E-Marketing

Emergency Email Communications To New Orleans

Posted by telemoxie on 5000 Points
One of my long time clients ( provides a satellite based email and messaging system. My client has been told by several of his customers that this satellite based email system provides the only communication link to their teams on the Gulf Coast.

How can I help my client get the word out quickly, without appearing opportunistic?

It seems to me that relief agencies, government agencies, oil and natural gas companies, trucking companies, and others would like to know about this technology.
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  • Posted by telemoxie on Author
    Thanks, Jane.

    My client has technology which can help in a crisis, and wants to help, but has limited resources. Could this be an opportunity to partner with the PR department of a large firm, e.g. a Walmart or Home Depot or Sears, who has deeper pockets than we do? Does anyone have such contacts?

  • Posted by telemoxie on Author
    since folks would be sending text via email (the service is a plain text email service) I wonder if a relationship with a blog makes sense...

    ... also, I don't just want to give this away... in addition to PR and "save the world" tactics - and in parrallel to humanitarian gestures - what about letting corporations know?

    I'm considering a fairly massive SPAM message to folks involved in construction / communications / oil service repair / etc. I haven't sent SPAM in a few years... but maybe in this situation, it's warranted. What do you think?

    What about a press release to let folks know this is working... how would I go about that? How can I do this while respecting my clients wishes not to be perceived as opportunistic?
  • Posted by steven.alker on Accepted
    It’s a very difficult line to tread indeed and I’ve had a number of direct experiences which have exposed some of the potential pitfalls. I hope that they might be of assistance.

    After both the Piper-Alpha gas rig explosion and a later devastating gas explosion in a Scottish hotel, my employer tried to use the heightened awareness of an undetected gas build-up to sell more of their gas alarm systems. I counselled against the approach they were taking – the events were too horrific and too recent for the public to stomach, but the factual message was essentially correct.

    The response from the oil industry was that they were well aware of the dangers and that we were being opportunistic trying to capitalise on the failure of a competitor’s gas detection system in the national and trade media.

    The response from the hotel trade, from a clumsy press release, made it into the national newspapers – we were out to profit from the death of a dozen people – vultures picking over the corpse of a disaster.

    I re-worked both campaigns and confined our activities to mailings with a free on-site demonstration of our products without any reference to the actual events that had triggered the new interest in preventing disaster. The customers made the connection themselves in face to face meetings and we won business.

    Later, when migrating landfill gas caused a series of explosions in public buildings, we again targeted both municipal and private properties in high risk areas. This time, we put together an educational road-show to highlight the hidden dangers and made it into the press for the right reasons by donating inexpensive but effective systems to schools and sports centres which happened to be close to rubbish tips.

    In the late 1980’s when a building boom resulted in every festering old rubbish tip sprouting a supermarket, an industrial estate or astonishingly, even a block of apartments, we offered advice to councils and planning departments, partnered with civil engineering contractors and carefully released information to the press on how we were helping to protect life and limb.

    We never mentioned the poor sod who nearly ended up in orbit when his toilet exploded, but the press did their duty and dug up all the really juicy bits, leaving us to bask in reflected glory for showing the wicked developers how to preserve peoples safety.

    I think that your client has the same kind of problem. They will probably have been responsible facilitating the saving many lives and will have helped to alleviate the misery of thousands more, but they can’t just come out and say so without being judged precipitly and in a poor light. It’s not fair, but I think that it is highly likely that they will be accused of opportunism.

    In short, I think that they will be in need of your most diplomatic copywriting skills, starting today, if possible. If you can also persuade them to offer some services for free (Jane’s idea on the hardware front sounds like a good one) and see how they can respond as the scale of the disaster unfolds.
    Think “How can we be of assistance” and let the acts speak for themselves. You can ensure that they get noticed, but it probably needs to be done almost as an afterthought.

    The true nature of this catastrophe has yet to be revealed and as the US government finally mobilises the enormous forces that it can bring to bear to alleviate the suffering we see on our screens in the UK, your client will have been in there from the start, doing their bit.

    When the big-boys arrive, they will need to work with whatever infrastructure they have available. Let them know that your client exists and get that message through to all levels of the organisation which will materialise on the banks of the river.

    It’s a tough one and one which will run for months. When things start to stabilise and the city starts to recover, then the detail of the story can be told and the case histories written up for the benefit of the disaster recovery and disaster awareness committees which are about to become a fact of life in a “Preparedness Aware” United States of America.

    Good luck and God speed to the rescue efforts

    Steve Alker
    Unimax Solutions
  • Posted by Pepper Blue on Accepted

    I think you identified a major conduit which is blogs. A number have sprung up this week that are getting an amazing number of hits.

    Do a Google on "Katrina Blogs", nothing can hit cyberspace quicker.

    If fact, they just mentioned "blogs" on CNN and are reading some comments from some of them as I sit here.

    Also, contact your local American Red Cross. Although inundated you might find somebody knowledgable about communications who can give some other contacts.

    I wouldn't SPAM, it will look too opportunistic.

    Good luck.
  • Posted by telemoxie on Author
    Thanks, everyone for the input. It is greatly appreciated.

    By the way, I've invited my client to participate directly in the discussion... maybe he'll sign up and post some questions or comments this evening.
  • Posted on Accepted
    So far, you have gotten some good advice to follow. I'll add what I can.

    I live on the Gulf Coast, and was on the very edge of the storm. I am heartbroken at the destruction and can't help but think a few miles more east and I would not be emailing this today. Local stations are airing all kinds of footage, some of which is making its way to national/international coverage. This will, indeed, take YEARS to recover from. (We took a direct hit from Ivan, and there are still homes awaiting roofs, and infrastructure repairs not yet completed. Ivan was much, much less damaging.) Here locally, we are doing all we can to assist.

    Communications are so critical after the storm, and so typically ABSENT. From my experience the scariest thing after the storm is not being able to talk to those you care about, to know they whether they are okay or not.

    The top concerns in the realm of communication people are relating via the news are 1) they don't know where other family members are, if they made it or not; 2) they are trying to figure out how to get their kids back in school, and 3) they are trying to contact families members out of the area to let them know they are okay (and who isn't). It sounds like your service would go a long way to help people resolve these situations. I am sure agencies and companies are grappling with similar issues in terms of how their workforce fared and how they can begin to assess and rebuild their operations and communities.

    There are a number of shelters set up across the coast, and these might be good places to set up emergency contact stations. In addition to Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the like, churches are gathering forces to provide sustenance of both physical and spritual nature for the survivors. Perhaps the churches are less obvious resources to consider.

    You might talk to the Department of Homeland Defense. They have been directed to work to resolve a number of issues across the Gulf Coast relative to the disaster. If they can work out procurement issues quickly, and I'm not sure how they have that realm organized, it may be an avenue to make things happen. From a long term perpective, they may see your service as one that could be mobilized for any number of emergencies. It might be a good fit.

    Some of the large network affiliates in Mobile are airing nearly raw footage as events unfold and are involved all across the Gulf Coast communities affected. Mobile is flooded but fared better than those further west. You might contact them.

    Do tread carefully. As much as the company can afford to GIVE at this time, the better it will be perceived.

    If there is anything I can do to help (contact information, etc.), let me know and I'll do what I can. My email should be posted on my profile.

    By the way, if you know of any companies that can put large temporary warehouses up FAST, the areas have no buildings and are in desperate need of facilities in which to store the items coming in to hydrate, feed, clothe, clean, medicate, etc., the survivors hardest hit . . .

  • Posted by michael on Accepted
    Places like walmart and AB are already doing a ton of work out there. Maybe the approach to them would be internal'll break out allow them to keep in touch with their people on the ground.

    As far as opportunistic, someone's always gonna find a problem with you. If you make money, you're evil. If you don't your stupid. If YOU can sleep at night, forget what you hear. You're helping in a way nobody else can.

  • Posted on Accepted
    Thank you for your insight. I own Skymira and have been working with Dave for a couple of years now.

    My primary motivation here is in line with your advice of offering the service as a means of helping out. For example, one of my best customers with offices in the NOLA area operates tug boats that tow large oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. So far I've been unable to contact the company's management however I did find out that all their vessels survived the hurrican and are out in the Gulf salvaging oil rigs. I emailed all of the vessels and let them know the crew members could email their families free of charge. That is when I called Dave and asked him to help me spread the word. We're a small company so I can't afford to donate $100K worth of hardware however we can donate our service that operates on the satellite. I'm going to contact the hardware manufacturer and satellite company and see if they will work with us.

    I'll keep you posted and thanks again for the advice.
  • Posted by SRyan ;] on Accepted
    Dave, Bob, here's something I think you should do ASAP.

    Change the home page of your website. Put something on there that says you provide this communications link to the Gulf Coast.

    Who knows? Maybe you'll get some quick hits (followed by new business) once the search engines have crawled your site. Go! Do it!
  • Posted by telemoxie on Author
    Shelly - thanks for the practical advice. That's what we need.

    Any more practical ideas? I'm considering calling news agencies, disaster relief organizations, etc. These folks will be working in this region for MONTHS, maybe without cellular service or dependable phone service, and will need a way to communicate with their offices.

    I don't want to come across as greedy, but I'd like to strike a balance here. There have been lots of suggestions that we should give this away - but we are not AT&T or BellSouth - as Bob pointed out, we are a small company with working technology. How about some practical suggestions to promote and sell it - but carefully, without appearing opportunistic?

    This is a horrible human tragedy, of unbelievable proportions. We have technology that can help companies who are working in the region - should we do nothing, so that we do not appear to be profiting from a catastrophe?

    If we had the budget dollars, I would be in the disaster area right now, with a large billboard, and a working unit, and allowing folks to send emails for free. We do not have those budget dollars. I've posted this as a 5,000 point question. Any more practical suggestions?
  • Posted on Accepted
    Good morning,

    I called the satellite company (MSV) and the hardware manufacturer (EMS) and they both indicated their support. We all agree that we want to donate to non-profits only. TV and other media have huge budgets and can purchase all the satellite equipment they need.

    At this stage we need a recipient. So far we have our local chapter of the Red Cross attempting to contact an IT person who can evaluate our offer and most importantly see if they can make timely use of the equipment.

    If anybody reading this has a similar contact with a non-profit that can evaluate the offer please don't hesitate to email me at deleted by staff -- use Profile page instead

    I'll keep you posted.
  • Posted on Accepted
    it sounds to me as though your company would like to show compassion for the persons impacted by the disaster as well as news organization striving to communicate with their staff. I think a call for support of your efforts to provide the service to the masses may be in order. You have stated that you do not have the deep pockets of a Walmart or any of the news organizations. Perhaps appeal to these very organizations to help facilitate acquiring the hardware and shipping it or whatever the process may entail. Have your PR department send out news releases highlighting the steps your company is taking to get the service out there. If you need to partner with couriers who have access to vehicles, aircrafts, vessels and so forth put this out there. Develop a strategic plan to analyze the situation and quickly access all of the elements you require in order to implement that plan. Again, with plans in place, reach out to those organizations and corporations who can fill the gaps to achieving the goal. This is a national tragedy that demands the talents, and resources of multiple agencies and humanitarians in general. As stated previously in other responses, providing the service for free will get the company name on the map and in the mouths of many for years to come.
  • Posted on Accepted
    so much has already been written about what to do in the immediate future, so I will skip that...

    You obviously have an opportunity here and you are ready to use it. But don't forget about it in the future. A story like this is still great for PR and Marketing later down the road. I would suggest a case study (using stories from users, perhaps rescue works--human interest case studies are gold for building brand value). Many tech trade mags and websites will publish them, sometimes without a single edit.

    This secondary opportunity will allow you to expand in other geographic markets. This is a great chance for you to define your USP. For SkyMira this seems to be the wireless comm that won't shut down during a disaster. And this is an extraordinary chance to build brand equity.

  • Posted by telemoxie on Author
    Thanks, guys and gals.

    Right now we are calling emergency management responders in Mississippi and Louisiana to donate satellite equipment and satellite transmission services.

    I believe your insights and suggestions were instrumental in helping us select this course of action.

    Take care.

  • Posted on Member

    Unfortunate and unnecessary as it seems, Katrina is a god send for clients such as yours.

    And what that menas for Skymira is that if there was ever an 'opportunity' to get outside investors interested this is it. Most entrepreneurs most of the time cannot create urgency; but events like these help start-ups.

    If the technology works as you described, then there are even more opportunities for short-term funding from several government agencies. Again while there is red-tape, in situations like these, even UN provides quick grants. (BTW, UN is very interested in such technologies since they are at the brunt of even worse distaters world-wide which rarely get press in US).

    But a word of caution: Sometimes, we in the Marketing and PR services business, fail to do our clients a favor in one area: telling them the truth or insisting on the proof.

    Thats is to say that Skymira should only promise what it can deliver. To give you an example, assume that Skymira does provide the only reliable, realtime communication. But can it also scale?? to 100 units? to 1,000 units? to 10,000 units? to 10 Emails/sec? to 1,000,000 emails/second?? Or maybe it can do all this, but say it takes 6-Months to set the I/F up. Or it takes 3-Mnths to train and staff people. So make sure these impediments do not exist.

    If Skymira can scale to such performance, then the CEO should take this MOMENT and be on the scene (in a safe area of course). The CEO and his team must ENGAGE any authority, organization and institution to explain Skymira's proposition and ASK for help to roll this out. If Skymira has the proposition, the money will come quickly.

    The CEO must Not wait for everything to be clean and lined-up before he/she moves on this opportunity and need.

    Skymira is in the business of helping in disaster situations, it seems. If so, the CEO must be on the scene getting his/her hands dirty. That will create credibility and experience, and the support necessary to help with roll out. Also, Skymira will be ready for the next disaster.

    To recap, if Skymira's products/services are ready, and if Skymira can really scale, then you will do the victims a phenominal favor by getting on the scene of disaster sooner rather than later.

    Best wishes,

    - Raj Doshi -

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