Siri Is After Us

Drove from Wichita Falls to Fort Worth this morning to pick up some new suits. On the way down I asked Siri the temperature a couple times and she dutifully replied, and of course figured out where I was and looked for the closest temperature to my location. I ask Siri for the temperature pretty often. I always get a reply in the same general format…just the facts.

On the way home, just passed Decatur, TX, about an hour from Wichita Falls, I asked the temperature again.

Me: What is the current temperature in Wichita Falls, Texas?

Siri: The current temperature is about 98 degrees. (slight pause) My data comes from The Weather Channel.

We’ve known for a long time that Apple uses The Weather Channel. We talked here about some new branding not long ago.

Wonder if I could have Siri know my name and forecast?

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Trolling From Inside A Can Of Pringles

I’m still reading This is Marketing from Seth Godin from the previous post. Reading Seth’s work is usually helpful to me when I insert “weather” for whatever other product he might be talking about.

A few weeks ago a story from my market went somewhat viral. A woman had been banned from the parking lot of a local Walmart for driving around in a motorized cart while drinking wine from a Pringles can.

The ridiculousness of the story was obviously of interest. Local media reported it. Word spread, and outlets across the country reported the oddity and there was a level of uncomplimentary comment on social media, all in fun…of course.

Locally some people began to talk about capitalizing on the event, even calling for a citywide wine and Pringles festival to draw attention and visitors to the town. That idea was certainly doomed to fail because the origin story would eventually be scrutinized. The woman drinking from the Pringles can was, thankfully, never identified. Had she been we certainly would have learned of some trauma or mental illness that led her to that situation. Eventually the festival, or whatever celebration of the sad story, would have been called out for making fun of the victim.

Seth writes about the work of Roland Imhoff, who studied conspiracy theorists. In short, Imhoff’s work suggests that conspiracy theorists often times don’t believe the theories they espouse.

Now, I’m jumping around, stay with me. I think I can bring it all together.

I detect a rise in pushback against online trolls. Meteorologists going on TV or online and responding to trolls who complain about an interrupted TV show or a busted forecast… all in fun of course, or sometimes in anger. That kind of noise has always existed but has gotten louder thanks to the the ease provided by social media. The trouble I see is the de-evolution of our responses.

Standards often do not go out in a blaze of glory. They erode slowly over time, sometimes imperceptibly. Twenty years ago would that angry letter about the missed show have been read on the air? Probably not, but it surely would not have been made fun of.

Social media, for all the good things it can do, is weakening our standards of communication and decency.

Trolls are seeking attention. Don’t give it to them, particularly in the name of entertainment. Their actions may be feeding “a deep-seated need for uniqueness,” or they might have a problem that has them on the edge of opening a bottle of wine and a can of Pringles.

Be nice.

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A Quarter Inch Drill Bit

I’ve started reading This Is Marketing by Seth Godin. Much of Seth’s work in grounded in “the story you tell”. We’ve talked about “What do they want from you?”

I wanted to share this great excerpt from Seth’s book:

Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt famously said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want a quarter-inch hole.”

The lesson is that the drill bit is merely a feature, a means to an end, but what people truly want is the hole it makes.

But that doesn’t go nearly far enough. No one wants a hole.

What people want is the shelf that will go on the wall once they drill the hole.

Actually, what they want is how they’ll feel once they see how uncluttered everything is, when they put their stuff on the shelf that went on the wall now that there’s a quarter-inch hole.

But wait…

They also want the satisfaction of knowing they did it themselves.

Or perhaps the increase in status they’ll get when their spouse admires the the work.

Or the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the bedroom isn’t a mess, and that it feels safe and clean.

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill bit. They want to feel safe and respected.”

Many times I’ve told the story of the consultant who asked the weather staff,
What do they want from you?” The weather staff gave good answers like: accuracy, credibility, the extended forecast. The real answer was, “They want you to protect them.”


Clayton Christensen asks, “What are they hiring you for?”

I expanded the consultant’s answer to, “They want you to look out for them. To help them grease the skids of their day.” To show up, on our own trustworthy, useful platforms…..with a quarter-inch drill bit.

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The Space In-Between

I’ve been lucky to be included in some interesting meetings and conversations about warnings and advisories lately.

Courtesy: Wikipedia

There is an empty communication space in-between the moment a storm initiates and a warning is issued. And another empty space on the other side when the warning expires and the storm dissipates. Our users still want, and need, to hear from us in those spaces.

During a media workshop at my local NWS forecast office we talked about NWSChat. There was a moment when the legendary and extremely talented NWS folks said they were afraid to put too many of their thoughts in chat during an event for fear of giving us too much information. I said, “I dare you,” and the markets in our region now benefit from more of their content.

Interestingly, we have laid the groundwork to fill the empty space with the rise of social media. Sadly, Zuck is the one benefiting from those eyeballs. We’re so close to getting them back…we just need to do it.

The space in-between exists outside of severe weather too. We need to develop the method. They’re waiting to hear from us on our own platforms

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What Do They Want From You?

Recently a friend said they could tell that the parent company had finally started to cool on social media. The impression was that they had begun to realize the effort and time-in-motion might not have been worth it. When Campbell Brown told publishers in Australia that Mark Zuckerberg didn’t care about their traffic, that should have been a good signal too.

This is a good read with an important lesson. The short version is that when Facebook went down people went looking for news on their own. The two lessons: make is easy for them, and, they had better find something worthwhile when they get there.

Years ago a consultant asked, “What do they want from you?” We gave big important answers: accuracy, credibility, yadda, yadda, yadda. The answer was, “They want you to protect them.” Wow. Think about that…..every day. Expand the definition beyond severe weather and you get, “They want you to look out for them.” That plays on all days. “How does it feel outside.” “What happens over the next couple of hours.” “Help me grease the skids and get through my day.” And don’t waste my time with bad looking current temperature maps not designed for the phone and automated notifications that the sun has set.

We have something that no other weather provider has (with the exception of the National Weather Service). Local boots on the ground that can take care of them, but we’re not providing the user experience that makes them choose us first. I guess that is okay. Maybe Facebook will go down for 45 minutes again sometime next year.


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Curious TWC? Apple?

I get a fair amount of use out of the native Apple News app on my iPhone.

Just notice this. If you tap on the date or the blank space at the top of the app The Weather Channel logo appears. Not a link, just the logo. Doesn’t go anywhere, and disappears after a few seconds.

I’ve never seen any weather information in the Apple News app. Don’t see any now.


Any ideas?

(Update: I found out. If you allow location services it gives you the local temperature.)

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The Sky

A very nice couple came up to me the other day and said, “We appreciate the sky so much more since you arrived. Thanks for teaching us.”

Thanks to you for teaching your users.

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