During power outage, PR people fumbled in New Orleans

A crisis communicator was at the 2003 Super Bowl, available to speak to the press in case of a power outage. He told PR Daily that the Superdome team dropped the ball.

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“I can’t tell you what a shock it was to see an outage at the Super Bowl,” Van Herik told PR Daily. “I had a sense of déjà vu.”

In 2003, Van Herick was handling crisis communications and media relations for San Diego Gas and Electric, the company that supplied power to Qualcomm Stadium. California was still reeling from an energy crisis that had grabbed the public’s attention, in part, because of rolling brownouts.

“We took a look at Qualcomm Stadium and thought there was a potential for an outage,” he explained. The questions we asked were ‘How do we restore it quickly?’ and ‘How do we tell everyone?'”

Van Herik, who now runs Van Herik Communications, is a veteran communicator with years of experience working for energy companies.

When the lights went out in the Mercedes Benz Superdome about 90 seconds into the second half, confusion reigned. The broadcast booth had lost power; the millions of people watching at home saw an eerily half-darkened stadium. CBS went to commercial, and Twitter lit up with activity. Once the broadcast returned, a sideline reporter described the scene, but had very little information about the power outage. No one on the field seemed to know what was going on.

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