During the week of Superstorm Sandy, it was easy to tell whose Twitter feed had been stocked with scheduled tweets. Automated messages about free giveaways or maximizing SEO seemed so out of place in a stream of updates about lost power and dangerous water surges.

Obviously not everyone I follow on Twitter was affected by Sandy. But continuing to market and promote during such a disaster, with so many people in real danger, made some look clueless and self-serving.

I stopped tweeting or blogging about anything unrelated to my neighborhood, the storm, and its aftermath simply because nothing else seemed to matter. I was (and am) so grateful that my family made it through the storm without harm.

But I must sheepishly admit this: I wondered if my online profile would tumble because of the Sandy-imposed hiatus. Would I lose hard-earned cyber-ground by taking a break from writing and discussing my usual topics (video, tech, and work-life integration)?

Like most self-employed people, I didn’t earn any money during Sandy. I also wrote off the cost of workspace and childcare for the week, despite using neither.

On the positive side, I got 3 personal-branding surprises

1. My website traffic stayed steady during my week off thanks to a solid library of how-to blog posts. I didn’t post anything new but my site was able to coast for a bit on previous entries alone.

2. Someone was inspired to take the personal branding plunge too. My husband’s former colleague wrote him that my book and website had pushed her to finally create her own portfolio website. After feeling “reluctant/skittish/self-conscious” about personal branding, she realized it isn’t blatant self-promotion if she creates content that informs and educates.

3. A breather from the constant pressure to produce content felt good—and got my brain mulling. Stuck at home with my kids, I had no opportunity to write but lots of time to ponder bigger issues (while assisting in the creation of some amazing Lego firehouses).

The Bottom Line

When the going gets tough, your personal life takes precedence over your personal brand. So make those important early investments in your social media presence, website, and blog posts. That will save you from having to micro-manage your personal brand when “real life” interferes.

In the end, Hurricane Sandy forced me to take a vacation from personal branding…but I came out better for it.


Manoush Zomorodi’s video expertise comes from years of reporting and producing for BBC News and Reuters Television. She works with organizations to make better video and is the host of WNYC’s New Tech City. For more video tips and techniques, check out Manoush’s ebook Camera Ready: How to Prepare Your Best Self & Ideas On Air and Online and follow her on Twitter @manoushz.