Meteorologists don’t follow the rules of public relations

I have personally known a couple of meteorologists over the years and I can tell you that they are the same in person as they are on television: They never apologize for getting the weather forecast wrong.

In the latest case, the Blizzard of ’15 that was to smother all of New England with two to three feet of snow, along with high winds that would leave us all without power, they were wrong in a beneficial way. The storm in most places just wasn’t that bad. Yes, it was enough to bring normal life to a standstill, but compared to the predictions we felt pretty good about things, even though the weather people blew it.

Most of the time a public relations professional will tell you that when you get something wrong or make a mistake, you should tell everyone in the most sincere way that you’re sorry.

Meteorogolists are different. They know that predicting the weather is basically impossible. The tools have improved immensely since the days, only a couple of generations ago, when farmers would smell the air and predict rain. But it remains true that storms come barreling in and then change their minds at the last minute without telling anyone. The earth’s atmosphere is too dynamic to predict with a level of accuracy that will satisfy most of us sitting at home watching the television. Meteorologists have figured out that the best they can do is make a prediction – and then move on. They know that no matter what, we will never be satisfied, and that they will be criticized for getting it wrong, or not correct enough. We even tend to blame the messenger when they get it right and the storm does crush us!

The meteorologists I have worked with love the unpredictable nature of the weather, and they welcome the challenge of continuously tweaking and interpreting the algorithms they use to track approaching storms.

For this narrow section of professionals, the best PR approach undoubtedly is to do their best — and have very short memories.

About Paul

I grew up in Marin County, California, and moved to Connecticut to join The News-Times, a community newspaper in Danbury where I eventually served as editor for 10 years. I joined Western Connecticut State University and ran the PR and development offices. I now serve as director of community relations and public affairs. I have four kids, all with the same wife, and now run Writing Associates, a consulting service that makes writing easier for my clients.