News of Hurricane Gustav making its way to the Gulf Coast on Labor Day weekend sent a chill down the spines of those who recall New Orleans residents stranded on their rooftops after Hurricane Katrina.
With the country watching for signs of the same callous disregard, Republicans decided to forgo many of the festivities originally planned for the opening day of its national convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul.
While presidential candidate Sen. John McCain was being picked apart in the media for choosing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his VP, McCain and his GOP brethren benefitted from putting the welfare of Gulf Coast citizens ahead of the needs of the convention. Reports from the abbreviated opening day focused on first lady Laura Bush and McCain's wife's pleas for solidarity.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin also gets points for taking caution and getting his constituents out of harm's way with accessible transportation.
Three years later, politicians (including President Bush, who opted to focus on the hurricane and deliver his convention comments via video) were looking to avoid the catastrophic PR disaster that Katrina brought. In the end, Gustav caused minimal damage to the city, but it also left the Republicans relatively unscathed, thanks to a little more strategy – and compassion.
PR Play Rating:
3. On the right track