Last week I featured a post from digital media strategist Tiffany Sunday on what broadcast meteorologists should know before signing a contract. Continue reading
Every broadcast meteorologist should have something special that sets them apart from the rest of the weather team. Some are good at public speaking, others rock at severe weather, while others are social media masters. Continue reading
There is no doubt that social media has changed the way we do our jobs as broadcast meteorologists. Websites like Facebook and Twitter allow us to reach viewers outside of the 6 and 11PM broadcasts. More importantly, it allows viewers to reach us a whole lot easier, and on a much more frequent basis. That changes things up quite a bit from fifteen years ago. What was once more of a one-way broadcast is evolving into more of a two-way discussion. We have to learn how to listen and respond better, and Facebook is the best tool for that right now. As broadcast meteorologists, our time during the day in limited, and I think its a valid question about where our time is best spent. While all social media channels has its advantages and disadvantages, personally I’m feeling like I’m getting more value out of Facebook.
Facebook is for everyone. It seems like Twitter is there for people with something to say. Everyone is broadcasting on Twitter, the way a television station broadcasts the local news. But those who don’t have something to promote or push aren’t on Twitter as much, and that is likely most of your viewing audience. Some say that the leaders and trendsetters are engaging on Twitter and where they go, so will everyone else. It seems to me there are a whole lot more loyal viewers on Facebook, waiting to hear what you have to say.
There are a lot of broadcast meteorologists out there. Its a cool job and a lot of people want it. There are also a limited number of jobs openings, especially if you are just out of college. In order to stand out from the pack, you need an edge. You should have something in your bag of tricks that makes you a better candidate than the rest of the competition. Keep in mind, these skills don’t take the place of being a knowledgeable meteorologist who knows what to do at the green wall. Those things need to come standard. Here are a few bonus skills that will help get your resume to the top of the stack.
Reporting, Shooting and Editing – This one is easily at the top of the list. Most entry level meteorologists start out as a weekend met/weekday reporter. Most meteorologists either don’t have a journalism program available at college, or are just too busy to take advantage of it. Those that do get some reporting skills have a big advantage right off the bat. You save the news director from having to train you on news gathering, and allow yourself to jump right in and be ready to go. You don’t necessarily need to get a journalism degree or minor, but knowing your way around a camera and edit deck are two excellent things to have on your resume.
I consume a lot of information on the web every day. My Google Reader is jam packed and I try to spend some time going through it every night. There is a lot that I miss, and a lot that I would like to pass on. It gave me the idea that I should give content curation a try.
If you are not familiar with the concept, content curation is the process of collecting all sorts of content from all over the internet, and organizing it in one place. Its becoming popular and several start ups are creating websites to help users find, organize and distribute content on the web. I started out last week with paper.li, but have ultimately settled in to scoop.it after I got a beta invite, and have been very happy with the process.
Let me say right here that I think that I’d never want curated content to take the place of something I create on my own. Broadcastmet.com will always be fed primarily by me, but there is a ton of great stuff out there and thought some curation would be a nice supplement to the site. If you look down the sidebar on the main page, you’ll find a “BroadcastMet News” RSS feed. Clicking on any of those stories will take you to my scoop.it page. There you will find stories on weather, meteorology and media. I also pull in a lot from my Twitter feed, so if you tweet a link to something interesting, chances are I’ll see it and might include it. I hope some of the things I find interesting might interest you as well.
I think the content on scoop.it is well organized and cleanly displayed. Its also very easy to sort through all the suggested content that comes in through the back side. I pick through what to push to the page, and gives me the option to push to Twitter and Facebook as well. Just in the past few days, I’ve had the chance to read a lot of interesting things that I probably would have otherwise missed.
So check it out and let me know what you think. If you have a chance to try out some content curation of your own, be sure to pass me along a link.
The weather has been pretty nice here in Vermont lately. Summers are short and we need to soak in all the sun we can before winter returns all too soon. Quiet weather generally means accurate forecasts, which usually means happy viewers, but its not always the case. I got an email from a viewer yesterday who was furious I was standing in the middle of the screen. He said a lot of mean things, but I wrote him back anyway. I hadn’t realized I was hogging the chroma-key, but apparently it was very clear to him.
These things will happen. They happen to everyone no matter how long you’ve been doing this or how good you think you might be. There are always things we can do better, but sometimes you just need to realize that there are people who are just having a bad day. Here are a couple of suggestions for your first few nasty-grams.
You take the bad weather with the good – You might get undeserved blame when the weather is bad, but you’ll also get a lot of undeserved credit when the weather is good. Just roll with it. Viewers are usually just giving you a little hard time. Its not a big deal.
Almost all viewers are great – In my experience 99.9% of all viewers I meet in public are nothing but kind and respectful. I try to give them that same courtesy in return, regardless of where I am or who I’m with. It comes with the territory. Where you’ll usually get complaints is through email, which are easier to consider a tactful response, and send out a prompt reply.
Angry viewers are usually just frustrated – When viewers get upset over the phone or an email, its usually because they’ve got some financial or personal stake in the weather. People make plans around the weather, and when the weather doesn’t go the way it was supposed to, people loose time and money. Listen to them and be polite, even if you don’t feel like you are getting the same in return. I’ve found that you can settle down most people and reason with them, but others will refuse to come around. If you get to a point where you are just getting berated, just thank them for the feedback and move on. Always remember that its not personal.
Viewers are just neighbors whose names you don’t know. They see you every night and listen to what you say. When when they get the chance to meet you in public, you both should walk away with a positive experience. Without viewers, we’d just be talking to ourselves, and that would be kind of weird.
Have you ever had any crazy encounters with your viewers?
I’m in the grocery store with my family on a Saturday afternoon. My wife is asking me what I want on the frozen pizza, but I’m not listening. Instead I’m tapping out a tweet on a severe thunderstorm in the area. I know there is probably someone back at the station on it, and I’m by no means expected to be doing this off the clock, but I’m here in the frozen food isle doing it anyway. I’m hooked on Twitter.
Twitter has become a great tool for keeping viewers (and followers) updated on weather when your typical 6 and 11pm news is not on the air. Even when the power went out on a Dallas evening newscast this week, meteorologist Larry Mowry fired up the Twitter to update what was going on, and to get the weather information out. During severe weather this spring James Spann, the most followed local met on Twitter at over 29,000 followers, became a information hub for broadcasting storm warnings, and receiving damage reports. Twitter is also just as good for getting information as it is to send it out.
The thing that makes Twitter work is that its always on, and that can be both a good and a bad thing for busy broadcast meteorologists. I still have broadcasts that need to get ready for with viewers exponentially higher than my current list of followers (I have about 715). There are also other things I ought be be doing when I’m not at work, but still mashing away on my mobile phone. The fact that Twitter is always live makes it almost feel like its the never-ending newscast. As weather information comes in, I want to make sure it gets out there as quickly as possible.
As I’ve talked about before, future broadcast meteorologists can grab a hold of this technology today. Anyone can start a Twitter account and begin talking about the weather. Its something I recommend to my students. It should be something that you want to do though, not something you feel obligated to. Many Twitter users will tweet like crazy in the first week, only to fry out to zero after that. This thing is a marathon, not a sprint, and if we want to us social media to keep people informed, we need to pace ourselves.
I know there are days when I know I should just let it be. I don’t need to be on all the time. Fortunately, I work in a market with an abundance of great weather tweeters. I encourage you to check out Kerrin Jeromin, Steven Glazier, Tom Messner and Ian Oliver.
Everybody has something that we’re good at. Sometimes its something you are born with, but usually its something you develop on your own. Many times, what you are good at comes out of necessity, while other times you are just following something you obsessively love. Finding what you are good at can help you be a lot more successful and happy in your career. This is your super power.
When I was in high school, I grew to a freakish 6 foot, 7 inches tall. I could have been another foot taller and I still wouldn’t been a good basketball player. Either I didn’t have the physical coordination for it, or I didn’t love the game enough to develop the skills I needed to be competitive. But I liked working with computers, and that ended up helping so much more in the career I’ve chosen to be in.
A lot has changed since I started working in 1999. We had the 6 and 11pm and the morning news, and that was pretty much it. We thought we were busy. Twelve years later, we’re adding more and more buckets to fill, and the need for content grows and grows. It started with a weather phone and a little morning radio. Then we got a website and a 24-hour weather channel on our secondary HD station. Then came social media and mobile, and people were getting their forecasts on Facebook, Twitter and their iPhones. Some stations are blogging and podcasting and doing live web chats. People still watch the local news, its just that everyone is a lot more connected than they used to be, and as a result, there is always a demand for weather information.
Today, you don’t even need to work for a local television station to broadcast weather content. There are some great sites from high school students who are very passionate about the weather going on around them. Granted, you aren’t getting paid for the work that you do, but if you have the energy and the know-how, its a great way to learn the ropes and get yourself out there. I encourage all of my students to sign up for Twitter accounts and become part of the weather dialog. Using Twitter, not only can they create great content, and pass along great content, they can also make meaningful connections with broadcast meteorologists working in the field.
If you are in high school or college and interested in broadcast meteorology, I’d have to say that this recent shift in content demand is good news for you. The mets that are working now are as busy as ever, and some stations are hiring extra help to fill any empty time shifts and provide backup for all that extra data that needs to get pushed here and there.
One word of warning, if you choose to put yourself out there, you need to be professional. Your weather Twitter feed can’t become a profanity-laced rant when your favorite teams loses. You are your reputation, and it can go both ways. Enjoy what you do and have fun with it, and be sure to follow me @WCAX_Dan.