Disaster Planning for Online Ad Inventory

nola.jpgTalk about forethought — or in this case, is it afterthought?

Nola.com, the online presence of New Orleans’ Times-Picayune, has — as the very first paragraph of its online media kit — the following call-to-action:

ATTENTION Current NOLA.com Advertisers ONLY.
Hurricane Advertising Information.
Please fill out instructions for your campaign in case of emergency/evacuation. CLICK HERE.

The form on the landing page requests complete contact information, the name of the advertiser’s sales rep, and the following menu button choices:

How would you like us to handle your campaign?
– take down
– leave up
– leave up with new creative

Clearly, New Orleans is a city that knows a thing or two about disaster, and Nola.com’s on-the-ground coverage of Hurricane Katrina was nothing short of heroic. While Katrina was the worst, it was hardly the first, and sadly will probably not be the last hurricane to wreak havoc on the Crescent City.

New Orleans media isn’t the first to face difficulties with advertising in the wake of catastrophe. The New York Times was compelled to publish a special, stand-alone, ad-free print section for a full year of post-9/11 coverage to cope with adjacency issues.

There’s a lesson in this for any publisher, namely that disasters happen. And that disaster planning is best undertaken in advance of the actual disaster.

So here’s the homework assignment: implement a plan for your ad inventory before a worst-case scenario occurs where you live, work, or publish.

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