One less surf break thanks to Irene

Photo from Steve Helber, AP

Hurricane Irene was far from harmless. It took a number of lives and collectively cost us well over a billion dollars to prepare for her commute up the east coast.

Armageddon may not have spun from her windy tendrils (which seems to be the only way people in New York City can justify an evacuation) but she did manage to obliterate one of the most popular surf breaks in the southeast, S Turns in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Named for its location along a few mile stretch of gentle turns on Pea Island’s Highway 12, the only stretch of pavement holding together the fragile barrier island chain. S Turns was probably the most consistent—and localized—break to be found along the state’s wiry coastline. The break is exactly where the new inlet has formed in the left of the above photo. (You may recognize the house in the foreground on the right, which was moved just after it was used in this movie. Good thing, too.)

S Turns was a thick, sandy beach break on the northern tip of the village of Rodanthe, a rental house-strewn tourist town. It was often firing when other area breaks were plowing mushy knee-highs into shore, which helps explain why it was often busy enough to warrant its own zip code. Nevertheless, local pros, or just plain locals, often dominated its barrel-friendly swells.

Now, a 900-foot gap has been torn open where previously a hundred cars could be found on a good summer weekend. The ocean is flowing freely into the Pamlico Sound and Highway 12 looks like the bottom of a bag of chips.

It’s unlikely rebuilding efforts will include the break’s revitalization. Actually, it probably shouldn’t. After all, the Outer Banks was just doing its job in making sure Irene bounced along the state’s eastern ledge, not into its mainland.

Maybe S Turns will come back, but it’s unlikely. The Outer Banks profile is defined by the impact of these storms. It’s possible another break will rise up as result of the tide of Irene. If not, we still have the memories. Check out some YouTubes of S Turns.

Don’t DIY your Website

I spent more than an hour on the phone with a good friend and colleague about his need to launch a marketing effort. I suggested his money would be best spent on a solid Web presence on which he could anchor other outreach efforts. He agreed. In principle.

Where our opinions diverted was in the execution. Smartly concerned with budget, his plan involved my guidance, an Odesk contractor and a former client that owed him some programming hours. Okay, a team effort. That can work sometimes.

It can also be slow, complicated and expensive. Here’s why:

Arranging multiple calendars for work sessions / deadlines / reviews / launch planning
Design and content feedback. More parties = more input = more time
More risk for misunderstanding of expectations re: time/cost/direction/roles

Multiple parties = more communication streams to manage
Varying opinions on additional services, like hosting, CMS, plugins, project management tools, etc.
Accountability. “Wait, I thought Ted was handling that … ?”

Cheaper upfront = more expensive in the long run
What happens when oDesk contractor is no longer on oDesk?
What happens to the budget when programmer runs out of his “owed” hours?

Our conversation came all the way around to why I paid a Web design firm to create my site even though I know enough to assemble a solid site using widely available templates and content management tools. This is what I told him:

Design firms dedicate hours/day to just your company’s site
Page mock-up feedback came from just me
I had a single source of contact

I had one designer/programmer focused on my site
My vendor had established, proven relationships with third-party services
A professional, credible company can be held accountable

Websites are a marketing investment: put your money in a proven vendor
I wanted to pay for a vendor’s specific specialty, instead of paying for what someone does part-time
Investment includes creative design experience and unique industry insight

I also explained that many of today’s Website services vendors create sites for much less than they did a few years ago. You can easily pay $50k for a site if that is what you need. If you need one for $3k, you can find someone who can design and help you run a highly functional and effective Website.

When it comes to creative services, especially Websites, don’t piecemeal it. Hire a proven vendor. When it launches and rocks your clients’ worlds, any trepidation you had about resources will vanish. Plus, your business will be better off for it because when you need a new Website, you can’t afford to not have new Website.

The purpose for re-purposing content

My last post mentioned the value in mining existing content to use in blogging and social media efforts. The value of this content marketing tactic became more clear to me during a conversation with a client about their pending Internet outreach plan. The client’s concern stemmed from an uncertainty in what we could provide to increase exposure. Rightly so, he didn’t just want to flood his audience with material that would fall flat.

The purpose for re-purposing existing content is not just to provide a stream of information to throw out to your audience—it’s so you don’t let valuable content go to waste. In many cases companies have valuable information for their customers and prospects that may not have been previously made available. There is certainly nothing wrong in repeating topics that make up your core competency. By all means, push what makes you special.

Remember that your audience is tuning in for a reason, something you have written/posted/tweeted about is worth a minute or two of their workday. That means it’s worth even more of yours to provide it for them.