Win Weather on All Screens - Checklist

We all know how weather is a critical part of our success in local TV news and increasingly a key ingredient in the information we offer in social and mobile. As we start 2015, we should ask ourselves if we have reviewed our three screen weather recently for how well we living up to our promises of urgency and impact that we keep in our on air news stories. If we have made a commitment to bringing the viewer the most up to the minute, live, and impactful information in the lead story, the same effort should be made with weather, which one can argue, is a never ending local breaking news story on all screens.

A check list can help the team discuss what we will do together to win weather on all screens.  This series of questions are meant to help focus everyone…producer, anchor, weather, director, social media manager and digital producer… It is not just for the weather to create all this value…it is the station team.

  • What does the viewer need to prepare for?
    • Make that direct impact the toss/start…see if the word “you” belongs in the toss for impact/first sentence
    • “You need to be aware…”
    • DIGITAL:  What is the front page weather story headline and does it make you want to click?
  • Should we go straight into weather right off the top of the newscast?
    • See if you can start or have weather start as breaking news/developing story not just as another weather segment
    • “Our met has just learned new information…”
    • DIGITAL:  Should weather be the lead story on our website and should the above the fold visual show our met on duty?
  • How does any toss into weather propel the viewer into the weather story we are about to tell?
    • Clear it with weather so that it avoids repetition or contradiction and speaks to impact/accuracy
    • “Our weather team did a push alert a half hour ago about this severe weather threat…” “If you had our app you saw this…”
    • DIGITAL:  Are we crediting our weather team ownership/brand in the first sentence of the online/social weather?
  • Is the toss ad lib/banter?  Can we avoid a toss by having weather be the third anchor?
    • Never slow down at the top of the news, avoid all wasted words and get to “you”, consider a short six/seven word anchor toss
    • “We have an alert from our met…”
    • DIGITAL:  Can we do a short online/social forecast that is different from the on air long version?
  • How tight is the audio between the anchor and weather?  Is a sound effect a too long distraction?
    • Avoid pauses on either side of weather to avoid any speed bumps
    • “Let’s get straight to your weather…”
    • DIGITAL:  Can we dump animations in any online/social video to get right to the weather that matters most?
  • Are we telling an immediate impact story?
    • Define the decision the viewer should make in the next hour and use the word “you” at least once in every weather hit
    • “In the next hour you will want to…”
    • DIGITAL:  Should we do a hyperlocal forecast for any part of our area online/social to increase impact?
  • Are we using any unnecessary graphics?   Do we need an open?
    • Get to the radar, live picture, or personality of what is “now” instead of an animation
    • “Take a look at this rapidly developing weather…”
    • DIGITAL:  What forecast element should we be updating every half hour online/social?  
  • Could we begin with the anchor over the radar?  What can they say about the radar’s special qualities?
    • Make an anchor part of the weather story “split lead” into weather or weather teases
    • “We are using the region’s most powerful radar to track this storm…” “I’m closely watching this area for you...”
    • DIGITAL:  Does our radar presentation online speak clearly to our TV radar brand (and promoted strengths)?
  • Does the radar have a sweep or immediately move to show where a local threat or concern is?
    • If the radar is static, it will look like it isn’t working and if it is too wide, it can’t track in any meaningful way
    • “Live radar shows you where this storm is near…”
    • DIGITAL:  Should our radar be an emphasized element on our front page with a live stream or news link?
  • Does it feel like a “now” or what happened earlier today? (Are you still doing an “almanac” like feel to begin with?)
    • Don’t review the whole day in first weather or focus on historical information…get to now
    • “Right now, you can see…”
    • DIGITAL:  How current is the latest forecast online/social?  Is it over an hour old?
  • Does it help you showcase your live ability?  What live picture shows the weather story?
    • Weather should have the option of a great live picture…but only if we use it to push forward the now/next story
    • “Live pictures confirm what our radar has been tracking…”
    • DIGITAL:  Can we reference in online/social our live streaming of any weather content today (including newscasts)?
  • Does it have a simple set of graphics?  Do graphics require a lot of reading? 
    • Avoid clutter or small type…make one point per graphic and make it an impact word
    • “Today is a Weather Alert Day…we declare those when…”
    • DIGITAL:  Can all elements of your weather pages be seen easily on a mobile device?
  • Is it paced correctly?  Paced like a top story with elements changing quickly?
    • Rehearse it so that it has a beat and energy…don’t stay on anything over “three one thousand”
    • DIGITAL:  Can we do seven second forecasts for online/social?
  • Is the weather super immediately up?  Does the super change to give a weather headline?
    • Reinforce the weather brand and weather story…make it urgent
    • “Happening Now…”
    • DIGITAL:  Can your weather page point to or promise the live broadcast on air for the live forecast?
  • What have we just learned or just seen?  What new readings or front shows on radar?
    • What is new, now, next that requires action by the viewer
    • “I’m going to continue to track this as…”
    • DIGITAL:  What alerts might we need to issue on any platform related to weather today?
  • What specific wx element can we promise coming up?
    • We cannot promise the forecast!
    • We should not promise more…we must be unfolding a weather story.
    • Be specific about what we will learn:
      • Which area will get the most rain/snow
      • When the rain/wind will arrive in the area
      • What damage a storm could cause/morning commute impact
      • How the viewer will need to change their plans
  • What is the weather story that is unfolding in the next ten minutes?

Even a blue sky day can have this level of urgency and impact on all screens.  A perfect day is the reason for many viewers to make new decisions to enjoy the weather while it lasts.  Being the weather leader requires a constant discussion from the beginning of the day as to what is the new and meaningful weather story we’ll tell on all screens.   Your SmithGeiger consultant can help you review this list with your weather team and customize it for your brand and weather technology.