Live Tweeting The Weather

Tornados are top of mind in Ontario these days after one ripped through Goderich this week and the threat of severe storms earlier tonight. This fact was evident for a few hours on Twitter. #tornadowatch, Southern Ontario and Weather Network, where I work, all trended in the Canadian top nine.

Ontarians, including a couple talented people at The Weather Network, live tweeted about the storm so that I could virtually see it moving east across the south part of the province while also reading about conditions elsewhere in Ontario.

As I said in a note to the writer, “I think you set some kind of national or international weather live tweeting record.” And more importantly, people got the news they needed about the storm’s severity.

TV and web can’t match this pace. Sure their reach is far greater with millions more people tuning into our on-air broadcast and web site. But if you wanted to know what was happening every few seconds in different areas, these live streams provided nice little chunks of easy to digest news. Which greatly complimented information on our other platforms including Facebook. As evident by the tweets referring to our TV reports and web radar models.

It’s common for Canadians to need their weather news. Tonight’s weather reinforced this fact while also highlighting Twitter’s information sharing strength.

Not as strong as the thunder and lightning, high winds and violent rain just experienced, but impressive all the same.

VHF Transceiver at the Cottage

It’s been a hot summer up at the cottage in the near north of Ontario and the lake is warmer than usual.

I love the combination of new and old here. We have Wi-Fi and an outdoor shower under the trees, a very modern kitchen and fire pit on the rocks by the water. In this home surrounded by forest by a lake, renovated rustic meets 21st century technology…. and 20th century technology in the form of a VHF radio.

The marine transceiver, which we never turn off, is the most immediate way to broadcast to everyone on water and land up here. We get updates from the lake association and can talk to other cottagers and boaters, although anyone with a radio can listen in. It’s like an old party phone line except you don’t need to pick up the receiver to hear what’s said.

I suppose this older communications device has similarities to Facebook, Google+ and other emerging media: it connects us to individuals and communities. Perhaps it’s closest to Twitter, though, since we primarily have short conversations about things that need to be done soon and about news that matters.

Such as the today’s weather forecast, which predicted that this morning’s rain will make way for sun.

Hope the sun’s shining and the water’s nice for you as well.

Planning For The Next Big Thing

I’ve recently completed the fiscal year 2012 corporate communications plan for The Weather Network / MétéoMédia where I work. With help from my team, we’re working to increasingly participate in weather-related conversations, online and off. This may seem like an easy task given that Canadians love talking about the weather and TWN/MM are popular brands.

However, the task of managing our social media presence, working with the news media and generally keeping our fans happy is challenging. So how do I stay ahead?

I work with a great team that is integrated across research, social, PR, customer relations and marketing. The researchers help benchmark and confirm success and customer relations respond to and manage external feedback. I highlight the research and customer relations functions since it’s rare that they work this closely with communications. Their proximity, CR reports into me and I’m part of the marketing team that includes research, gives me access to data, insights and feedback that helps build and sustain strategies.

Success looks a lot different these days in light of changing media which have altered how marketing works. Good thing I work with a team that’s immersed in the mix and understands how to demonstrate success.