From Delaware Business Daily: The Jersey Shore community of Brigantine is not known for generating a lot of news coverage. Situated comfortably on the other side of a bridge from Atlantic City, it leads a quiet existence much of the year.
That changed with what is now known as Superstorm Sandy. On hand to pitch in was BrigantineNow.com.
I first learned about BrigantineNow at Podcamp East, a regional technology event held earlier in the fall in Wilmington.
Mel Taylor, the owner of a Philadelphia-based media consulting business, discussed the hyper-local site as a platform for his strongly held views on the value of digital content.
He is an evangelist for WordPress for blogging and community sites as well as for other digital tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo video and the AWeber email management system.
Taylor sees the open source WordPress platform as an attractive option to often cumbersome and expensive content management systems used by media outlets.
I joined BrigantineNow’s Facebook page and as Sandy approached, the postings from the website and Facebook came at a furious pace.
Stories, updates, warnings and bulletins went live as many residents opted to stay at their homes, rather than evacuate. The laser-like focus on a community struggling with an historic storm blew out earlier visitor counts.
Taylor reports that traffic to BrigantineNOW surged to well over 50,000 page views per day, well above the normal 5,000 figure.
Sharp increases also came in Facebook “likes” (from 275 to more than 2,000 and in the email database, which went from 275 to more than 700.
Throughout the intense news cycle that included a visit by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and President Barack Obama, the WordPress website performed well, perhaps better than custom-built CMS sites.
The natural tendency would have been to take the foot off the gas once the president and governor left.
That wasn’t the plan for BrigantineNow.com, which used its Facebook page to post photos of idyllic summer scenes that reminded readers about the joys of living in a beach community.
It also covered a key municipal election in early November and continues to focus on relief work.
Taylor would rather have seen BrigantineNow grow without the help of a superstorm.
But with Sandy, BrigantineNow.com has, more than likely, cemented its bonds with the community and convinced more than a few skeptics among us that an aggressively managed hyper-local community site can do spectacular things.