I was speaking Anne Holland last week. She and her team at MarketingSherpa have published some thoughtful advice on how marketers should handle the Hurricane Katrina aftermath.
Specifically, her thoughts on email users (and thus, email marketers) are worth sharing. Regular users of email along the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast may be offline for quite a while. This means that inboxes will fill up and bounces will escalate. For emailers using automatic email list hygiene, many of these users will find themselves being removed from lists that they'd otherwise want to be on when their lives are back in order. Anne went so far as to talk with AOL and others about special bounce codes, but apparently this wasn't feasible. Obviously, the best solution is to consider suppressing messages to people in the region. If you have zip codes in your email database, the Direct Marketing Association and the U.S. Postal Service have provided guidance and a list of zip codes for the affected areas.
And, far more important than email, postal mail and marketing is the incredible tragedy that is unfolding in the Gulf Coast region of the United States. If you have not already done so, I encourage everyone to do what they can to help. The recommended approach is to simply go to the American Red Cross and make a donation directly.