Month: March 2018


There’s no hyperbole like snow hyperbole


 The ‘Beast from the East’ has been bringing in icy Siberian winds and heavy snow from Russia. And don’t we all know about it! I do feel for those in Scotland, but for us townies in London, it’s mostly been manageable. Schools haven’t even closed here in the ‘burbs, much to the chagrin of my children. What tickles me though – as we ‘brave the elements in arctic temperatures’ and we ‘batten down the hatches as the storm engulfs’ – is the onslaught of hyperbole that everyone seems to relish when talking about the weather.


 What used to be a cold winter, is now a ‘polar vortex’. Of course, it is the worst weather we’ve seen in approximately a million years, don’t they say? But, as a nation, we go completely bonkers when describing a snow flurry. We seem to have had so much fervour and camaraderie about our collective frost-bite, maybe PM Theresa May’s Comms Chief needs to channel some of this drama and energy into conservative politics. Anyway, I digress….


 OK, so this is less hyperbole, more practical advice, but my favourite corker of a headline this week has been: “Survive Snow Storm Emma: ‘Walk like a penguin’ to avoid icy falls’. Of course, elderly people need to take care, and possibly stay indoors and avoid the ice altogether. But, really. The snow has sent us all completely loopy. Especially people in my industry who write the headlines.


So, the ‘Beast from the East’ is now turning into ‘Storm Emma from the Atlantic’. A bit like ‘Jenny from the Block’. By giving storms personae, we, as an audience, tune into weather more, and listen to and take notice of the advice. Like all brands who are waking up to the value of storytelling to get their messages heard, weather has a new narrative – and in weeks like this, it’s a real page-turner.


 The practice of naming storms has been going on in the United States for a while. But we now have our own UK versions. And we have the Met Office to thank for that. It cottoned onto the fact that if you give a storm a name, people are more likely to relate to it and heed its warnings – and take the necessary precautions. It would be quite a fun job, I think, coming up with the storm names for the year ahead. Some of them are quite kooky in their mundaneness (Larry, springs to mind). Storm Emma was, in fact, named by the Portuguese Met Office – it doesn’t sound like a very Portuguese name to me, but at least it’s not a tongue-twister for us Brits.

So – wrap up warm, heed the red alert, batten down the hatches, and whatever you do, walk like a penguin.

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