The Most Important Part of the Newscast
“Weather is the reason people watch local news.”
“Everyone wants to know about the weather.”
“We will win with weather!”
Practically everyone who has ever worked in a TV newsroom has heard these phrases. And they’re all true.
Pew Research conducted a substantial nationwide study, interviewing almost 35,000 adults about local news. 70% of the respondents said weather is “important for daily life.”
No other category comes close to that. News about crime was the second most important topic, followed by traffic, politics, education, and employment. Sorry sports fans, only 10% said news about their favorite teams was important.
There’s more good news for broadcast meteorologists. Of those surveyed, 41% said TV is the preferred method of getting local news. Online sources came in a close second with 37%. Presumably, that includes the digital platforms programmed by local television stations.
HERE, THERE, EVERYWHERE
While the weather is the most important local news topic, the same survey said it was “very easy to stay informed” about it.
Optimists might look at that response and say it indicates we’re doing a great job keeping everyone informed. The realist would acknowledge that it’s easy to stay informed because the forecast is easy to find.
That, I believe, makes the job of a broadcast meteorologist more difficult. If weather information is everywhere, why does anyone need to watch you?
PRODUCE AND PUBLISH WITH A PURPOSE
People are looking for more than endless satellite loops, temperature contours, and hour-by-hour forecasts. They can find all of that information and more on their smartphone.
To connect with today’s audience, broadcast meteorologists should create content that connects on an intellectual and visceral level.
Produce weathercasts with data people need. Publish webcasts with information people want. Share messages on social media that changes people’s lives.
Business consultant Seth Godin writes in his book, “This is Marketing” that marketing used to be about advertising. Today, Godin writes, “marketing is the generous act of helping others.”
Isn’t that what broadcast meteorologists do? We help people by providing accurate information so they can plan their day and stay safe during severe weather. To me, there is a natural connection between meteorology and marketing.
When producing content for broadcast and digital platforms, broadcast meteorologist should stop and ask themselves these questions, adapted from Godin’s book:
My forecast is for people who need________.
I will focus on people who want ___________.
I promise that watching my forecast will help people ______________.
DON’T SELL IT
This isn’t about self-promotion. This isn’t about advertising. This isn’t about selling. Marketing means producing and publishing with a purpose.
Marketing, done right, will change people. In turn, this will earn their trust and entice them to be part of what Godin calls the “tribe.”
In TV speak, we call these important people “loyal viewers.”
Tim Heller is an AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist and Talent Coach. He helps local TV stations connect with their community through essential weather information.