Time to evaluate your winter storm coverage
The power is on. The pipes are thawed. The sidewalk is shoveled. Now would be an excellent time for broadcast meteorologists and local TV stations to review the weather coverage from the latest winter storm.
We often did this after major weather events when I was Chief Meteorologist at KTRK in Houston. Something good always came from these conversations.
Gather the weather team for a Zoom call while everything is still fresh in your mind. Consider including members of the news team, web department, and production crew for a full 360-degree evaluation.
What didn’t work?
Which graphics were the most helpful?
Which ones were cluttered and confusing?
How well did you communicate internally?
What roadblocks did you encounter during the coverage?
Did your weather coverage fulfill the three principles of Meteorology Marketing:
Did your weather hits always deliver The Essential Message?
Did you demonstrate expertise and share your personality?
Did you support the brand?
What actions do you need to take before the next big weather event?
Who needs additional training or professional development?
Check with your Focus Group
Author and playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
We might think we’re doing an excellent job communicating the threats and impacts of the storm. We have communicated nothing if the listener, viewer, or follower doesn’t completely understand the message.
Luckily you have a quick way of checking to see if your message was understood: social media. Go back to the beginning of the storm and read through the posts you wrote and your followers’ questions and comments.
There will always be some comments from people who disagree and argue. Unfortunately, that seems to be a byproduct of social media. Look past the noise and notice general themes in the questions and comments.
What type of social media posts had the most engagement?
Which posts were misunderstood and generated the most follow-up questions by followers?
Was there a critical message missing from your weather coverage on social media?
The Big Game of Weather
Major weather events are critical times for broadcast meteorologists and local TV stations. This is when we put it all on the field. Make it or break it.
Ratings soar and website page views increase. Loyal viewers tune in before, during, and after the storm. Others will sample the coverage on all local TV stations.
This is a time to convert viewers who might usually watch another news channel. However, if you don’t fulfill viewers’ expectations you risk losing them.
Really, switchable viewers are watching the news every day. Someone is always checking the website and scanning social media for weather information. That’s why I believe it’s vital for broadcast meteorologists to always deliver essential information every day. And on every platform. Not just when there’s a major winter storm, but every day.
This is how you establish yourself as the go-to weather source in your community. This is how you differentiate your weather coverage from the competition, which these days includes the built-in smartphone weather app.
Tim Heller is an AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologist, Talent Coach, and Weather Content Consultant. He helps local TV stations and broadcast meteorologists communicate more effectively on-air, online, and on social media.