Winter storms deliver an opportunity for communications to shine

 Written by Charlie Mann


Scots love to talk about the weather – especially when the weather IS the main story of the day – and those directly involved in the current winter blast really have upped their game in understanding the hugely important media role in helping the public (and their businesses) through the storm.

People like Morven Smith and Brian Lironi at SSE, as well as the guys at ScotRail, Transport Scotland and Transport Minister, Derek Mackay, have all delivered during the myriad of broadcast opportunities presented to them around the storm ‘crises’ and the mix of news and social media channels in this country really do come into their own at times like this.

GMS really is essential listening for those peering out the window before facing the daily commute and with a 24/7 story the response from those delivering vital services and charging for them simply has to be just as dedicated.

If the Beeb or any other media outlet want somebody in at 6.30am or any other time of the day, they do so to help deliver vital information and updates on a demanding and challenging situation and the message simply has to be right.

Punters don’t want to see an executive in a suit and tie standing in an office saying they are fixing a storm problem, they want to see a guy in a hi vis jacket (and not a clean one just out of the bag!!) out on site with work going on in the background saying they are fixing a storm problem!

They also want the information in bite sized, plain English with phrases like ‘our people are getting their sleeves rolled up and are out there in the storm’ eminently better than ‘ we are sending teams to investigate the issue and resolve any connection problems in the area’.

Doing something about it is vital, but being seen (and heard) to be doing something about it really is key in the modern world.

Get engineers to tweet pictures of the height of the storm, help the broadcasters get access to difficult sites and more dramatic pictures and be prepared to interrupt whatever you are doing in or out of office hours and the rewards will be a greater understanding of what you are doing to reconnect people and hopefully a better ‘feel’ for the difficulties faced in doing so.

Storm stories really are where the media and big business can work together to help their ‘customers’ and with the right level of communications support and media training the problem really does become the opportunity.


Charlie Mann is an Associate Director at 3x1 Public Relations with more than 30 years’ experience in communications campaigns across the UK.   He also leads the 3x1 media training division, working with experienced broadcasting professionals to help clients maximise media opportunities.


By Charlie Mann, 3×1 Public Relations, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Scotland