Near-record flooding on the Meramec River in the St. Louis area earlier this month caused evacuations, school closings and resulted in millions of dollars of damage. It was the second time in approximately 17 months the river rose to levels expected once every 100 years.
Back in 2015, Mike Martin Media, a video production company, only had a few hours to remove all of their equipment from their studio, editing suites and offices. The business is located on hill, but only a few hundred yards from the Meramec and no one expected the water to reach the office complex.
This year, Martin and many other businesses and other organizations throughout the region had more time to prepare to hold back the rising waters by building walls of sandbags. However, recruiting and mobilizing volunteers in a timely manner was critical.
I first met Mike Martin when he was a news photographer at a St. Louis television station. Throughout the years, we stayed in touch as he developed his own video production company. I’ve produced several video with his studio and editor, Matt Neatock. Martin’s enthusiasm and drive to succeed always seem to be in high gear. Those traits helped him during the threat of flooding.
Martin displayed creativity and humor to successfully bring dozens of people to his office complex to sandbag for most of Tuesday, May 2, 2017. He posted the following 25-second video on Facebook at 11:57 a.m.
In the process of successfully getting dozens of people to help sandbag for most of the day, Mike taught some lessons about connecting with people to gain their commitment, time, physical strength and stamina in the video:
- Sandbagging as a metaphor for CrossFit: You probably viewed advertisements for this physical fitness program emphasizing strength and conditioning. Instead of going to the gym for your daily workout, the suggestion was to fill sandbags for a couple of hours instead to complete fulfill your daily exercise commitment–and help others.
- Show people working: The b-role showed a wide range of people successfully contributing to the mission. All of the materials were assembled and the workflow process was in high gear.
- Call to action: Several towns in the region requested help with sandbagging efforts by sending media releases to various radio and television stations. (My youngest son volunteered in Pacific and twice in Fenton, Mo., during a 48-hour span.) The request was clear and it was evident others already answered the call.
- Communicate urgency: The crew was racing against time. Help was needed immediately.
I was grateful I could join Mike and his crew to provide some help late in the evening on Tuesday, May 2. But thanks to the effort of many volunteers, he reported no water in his studio in a post on their Facebook page.
Lesson learned: Even when facing a natural disaster, producing content that’s engaging and humorous can result in a great outcome.