After the Storm.

I’m writing from my small town in Vermont, where schools are closed for Superstorm Sandy, but the sun is shining and it’s as pretty a fall day as we’ve had this year. The lights stayed on. My thoughts go out to those millions of people who have been less fortunate.

Like the rest of the country, I spent a lot of time yesterday searching for information about the storm. Were my friends and family safe? Was it headed my way? Were there D batteries available anywhere in Addison County?

Now that the threat has passed, I find myself thinking about how I seek, access and evaluate information online in a crunch. Perhaps there are some lessons for us here when the storm clears:

1) New Media. While I’m a loyal fan of print, I bypassed traditional media completely yesterday. Even the evening news (yes, I still watch it religiously) wasn’t up to date enough. The 24-hour news cycle has spoiled all of us, and particularly in times of crisis, information is only as useful as it is new. Communicators looking to stay relevant must act accordingly.

2) Google. Search, search and more search. That’s how I went after the information I wanted. I searched repeatedly, often on the same terms over and over again. Despite all this searching, I never went past the first page of search results. Yet another testament to the power of strategic SEO.

3) Loyalty. Although there were probably hundreds of places to get information about this storm yesterday, I repeatedly turned to the sources that I’ve known for years. Was their information more accurate? Hard to say. But was it more trusted? Absolutely. There’s value to be found in the relationships that you’ve spent years building.

4) Infographics. I was looking for as much information as possible, but the rest of my life was not put on hold so I could read articles several pages long. I was most drawn to the sources that boiled the information down to short, simple images and interactive graphics. There are great examples on the New York Times site today. Even when there isn’t a crisis, infographics and images are a powerful way to connect with audiences.

What did you learn from this storm? What will you remember when the next storm (literal or otherwise) hits your organization?