For as long as there has been local TV news research we have known that weather shows up on top of the list of reasons why people watch local news. I’ve always thought we have two main responsibilities. Tell people if it is going to rain, and invite them into the tent (the newscast) to sample the rest of the wares.
Many of the “future of journalism” people that I listen to are saying that one of the (many) reasons the local newscast is dying is that people already know the news of the day by the time the show airs. This couldn’t be more true for the weather. Okay, you are going to give some detailed information and an explanation of why it will be partly cloudy , 72, and some fancy graphics, but many users have gotten most of that somewhere long before the 6:00pm news.
Many nights in my office I’ll have the TV on the background and in between programs pops up that 5 second promo where the happy meteorologist says, “Will the heat continue? I’ll tell you at 10:00.” Useless. Old media.
“But wait…”, someone says, “It is only 5 seconds.” Doesn’t change the fact that it is useless, and please don’t argue that it is promotion for the newscast. No one is making the decision to watch the newscast in two hours based on that tease.
So, mister smarty pants digital meteorologist, what is the point? The point is this. Number one, don’t waste the users time. They know when you are doing it and they will hold it against you. How about this…”Between now and the 10:00 news, the strong winds from earlier today will loosen up.” Time stamp it. Give them something they can relate to in that moment or the next couple of minutes. When you give a user something useful they will appreciate it, remember it, and more importantly, come back when they decide they need something more…on their time schedule, not that of the 10:00 producer.
Someone much smarter than I am said of digital products and media, “People return to places that send them away.” Do you come back to Google repeatedly because they give you what you need then and there, or because they’ll give you your answer in an hour or two…when they are ready.