I write this blog direct from my North American office – the Grand Central Terminal dining concourse, don’t cha know – and I am afraid I have a dire confession to make. I think I might have accidentally manifested Frankenstorm Sandy. I had always wanted an extended stay in NYC and looks like I got my wish. Ah, if only I could use my powers for good instead of evil. After being bumped flights a couple of times, I am now due out Sunday night to triumphantly return to Sydney on Tuesday in time to don a hat and back horsey No 5 in race 6 on Cup Day.  Disclaimer: That’s not a hot tip, it’s just the numbers I like.

So while I revel in my extended NYC stay, I have been able to reflect on what a great job NYC has done marketing itself during this heartbreaking event. Here is what I have admired:

 1. Communication

We hear it all the time but it really is key. Frankenstorm Sandy had been solidly all over the news in the days leading to landfall allowing time to prepare. On the Sunday before Ms Sandy’s arrival, I was attending an event and there were regular updates and a commitment to finish well before the subway shut down at 7pm. At the hotel I was staying in Midtown there were postings in the common areas and room drops. The news stations were predictably hysterical in their coverage – creepily, even predicting how many would die – but to solve that I turned off the sound and just took in the images and banner scroll at the bottom of the screen. Internet access at the hotel allowed me to stay online and get updates from SMH (bless you Fairfax) even while Sandy pushed my hotel a metre down town. At all times I felt safe despite the craziness going on around me. Mayors, governors, heads of rescue and even the Prez has been all over the news providing information and updates. And while so many others in the storm zone don’t have power or Internet access, the messages are being repeated and spread out across social media in the hope that the information can get passed through to those in the blacked out areas.  So in good times and bad, communication is the number one priority.

Nothing personal, but please shop another day

2. Be like a Boy Scout and prepare, prepare, prepare

I think in times of a crisis we all function better if we have stuff to do. On Sunday night before Sandy made landfall I washed all my clothes as a girl as to have clean gear even under locked in conditions. You let presentation standards drop and that is one slippery slope my friend. I made my grab and go bag (this mainly consisted of chocolate until I rethought it and added alcohol and Pringles), filled the bath so I had a water reservoir to lap from (!) and charged up the communication devices. Because I was so busy preparing I did have time to freak the hell out or be afraid. So it was a great move by authorities to give people a list of preparation to follow. The more you are engaged with a task, the less likely you are to be running through the streets pulling out tufts of your hair or panic buying s’mores.

‘Get your game on” letter form the Sofitel

3. Normal programming will resume as soon as possible

The thing that really struck me with Sandy is that people value and crave life’s rituals. From riding the subway to getting coffee at Starbucks’s, people are obsessed with getting their lives back to normal as soon as they can as it is a sign that life goes on.  I’ m so lucky to be in Midtown but about 10 blocks south of me is the lower Manhattan area where there is still no power in most parts. When people who live in this area are interviewed their main question relates to the resumption of power. If you have power, you have lights, TV, a fridge full of pop tarts and life starts feeling normal again. The sense of relief is palpable for those returning to work as it is another sign of normal service returning.  We do have power refuges everywhere throughout Midtown though. Any lobby, shop, cafe or bank foyer with a spare power outlet is crowded up with people charging up their communication devices.

4. I heart NYC

Like all great marketing, the aftermath of Sandy has revealed a very large heart at its core. Scores of people have either helped with the recovery or stand ready to. Strangers ask how you are doing and actually care about the answer. Even politicians have left a lot of argey bargey to the side while they get help to the people in need. The response is not perfect and there are still whole communities in dire need but it is hard to really fault the emergency services and community leaders when it is obvious they are doing there very best under pretty crazy circumstances.

I have always loved New York and the marketing of the city has always been top shelf. But I think Sandy has given her an added chance to show her proactive and caring side. I’ll be back for sure…I just have to leave first!

And for our weekly tune, what better song to pick than Hova’s love letter (with some killer marketing taglines) to NYC.

See you next week!