Winter Weather: Top 5 Tactics

Here’s the deal Mr. & Ms. TV Meteorologist, they already know the numbers.  Mr. & Ms. Traffic anchor, they’re getting loads of information about the roads on Twitter.  Before they turn on the TV local TV news viewers know more than ever…especially during Winter Weather events. 

Unlike any Winter Weather coverage ever before in the history of time, the average consumer who needs information is finding that information in the palm of the hand and from their trusted sources on social media.

With that in mind here are the Top 5 Tactics for covering Winter Weather in 2015-16:

1.      Start Coverage Sooner Rather Than Later
SmithGeiger research shows local TV news viewers want an advanced warning of all severe weather.  Many local TV News Mets are reluctant to talk about the potential for storms more than 2 or 3 days out.  “What if it doesn’t hold together?”  Guess what?  Our consumers get it, (especially the young demo).  They know weather changes and therefore the forecast will change as well.  On all platforms, tell them about the chance for winter weather 5, 7 or even 9 days out.

2.      Warm up the Social Space during Wintery Weather
Winter Weather is a terrific mechanism to trigger sampling of our weather products on all platforms.  But don’t sit and wait for them to show up.  It’s a before, during and after thing.  Write posts that entice viewers to participate in your coverage.

The Weather Channel names winter storms to try to make them more social-friendly.  While you may not want to go that far, you definitely want to play the social game. Everything from memes, to Facebook video updates to extended forecasts on Periscope, your Mets should be the busiest social people in the building during winter.  

Every post or video should be shareable and interactive.  If you are only going use social media as another platform to “shove information at people” in regards to Winter Weather, you will lose to your competitors.  Answer their questions, get them to share, comment, and click-through to stories.  

And remember, it’s got to be new information on social as well because in many cases, they already know what we know.  This tweet is from a TV News Anchor last winter:

3.      Show Your Digital Coverage on TV
Digital integration inside TV newscasts should be happening every day.  Not reminding viewers you have a website or app, but actually showing them the value of using it.  Clearly on some days it’s tough to find the right content.  But before, during and after winter weather Digital Integration should be easy to do; this goes for the Mets, Traffic anchors and the main anchors.

Your SmithGeiger consultant should be able to show you some great examples of how local TV stations are producing Digital Integration inside their newscasts on a daily basis.  It’s especially important for the younger demo who may be sampling during winter weather to see us using digital platforms during newscasts because they won’t feel like they are watching their father’s TV News.

4.      Be Less Number-Driven on TV
Did I mention they already know the numbers when they tune in to watch TV News?  Mets need to be better storytellers all the time but especially during times of sampling from viewers who may or may not watch often.

Yes we have to give the current temps and wind chills (feels like) numbers during Winter Weather.  Your Mets should quickly go beyond the numbers to get to information they couldn’t get on an app.  Dive into the context of the story; when to leave the house, what to wear, where to expect the slick spots, etc.  

Before the winter weather hits, now is a good time to do a time audit with your Mets and Traffic Anchors.  How much time are they spending with the numbers and how much with the context or impact?

5.      Covet the Best Video/Pictures of the Storm
The news entity with the best pictures wins Winter Weather coverage.  Sure you can’t blow the forecast or forget to write impactful stories.  But once the flakes fly and ice coats the streets, it because a battle to get the best video.

We used to own the best pictures of the Winter Weather.  We have cameras on towers, cameras with Live Crews and cameras inside cars roving the street (love the Live Drive).  But guess what?  We don’t always have the best pictures anymore.

Asking viewers to send in pictures/video is a good 2008 idea.  We should still do it but we’ve got to go further.  Talk to those viewers via Skype on all platforms (you send me a picture; I call you back to see if you can do Live TV, or Live Digital Coverage).  Tell those school superintendents to use their phones to shoot a picture when they wake up at 0-dark-thirty to close or delay school. 

Who’s scouring YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, etc.?  Some of the best pictures of the storm are being seen by local TV viewers…but not on TV!