When a gigantic “frankenstorm” knocks out the power for your reporters and many other contributors, how can a hyperlocal site keep its coverage online and help its community? Here’s how The Alternative Press, the 19-site, 34-community network in suburban New Jersey, did it last week under the direction of founding editor and publisher Mike Shapiro.
We asked three hyperlocal companies based in New York City, Patch, GramercyOne and Yext, to share the details on how they dealt with Superstorm Sandy. Their experiences shared the same urgency around helping their employees find shelter and safety. But they way they kept the day-to-day work going differed, largely reflecting the differences in their businesses: while Yext set up temporary headquarters in Times Square; Patch told everyone to stay home and kept operations humming with a remote workforce; meanwhile, GramercyOne leaned on tools that didn’t require location or physical presence.
In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, a big news event for hyperlocal publishers, we asked Patch’s chief content officer Rachel Feddersen to give us the scoop on how the AOL unit managed its own business during the storm: “When my colleagues and I weren’t able to commute to the city during the storm and in the days following, we just joined our field work force.”
When the power went out on Yext’s offices in Chelsea Market in New York City, the team scrambled to find new work space and take care of its employees. Event halls where conferences had been canceled delivered even more space than the company had in its permanent offices, and employees were put up in hotels so that they were free to focus on work instead of water and power. “People were happy to get back together, and the atmosphere is very focused.”
As a provider of cloud based software, GramercyOne, based in lower Manhattan, embraced these systems for internal infrastructure and despite the office and surrounding area being completely offline and inaccessible, all of its mission critical systems, including its SaaS application used by thousands of businesses, was fully operational. Here, CEO Josh McCarter shares his company’s and his personal experiences through the storm and its aftermath.
In the lead up to the storm, the New Haven-based company hooked up with the Huffington Post and NBC Washington to embed its interactive widget, which is already used by the Journal Register Company as well as smaller hyperlocal sites, into the sites’ storm-tracking coverage. Street Fight caught up with Ben Berkowitz, the co-founder and CEO of SeeClickFix, to talk about why “the crowd” is critical during major events…