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Beast From The East Storms Media!

It’s safe to say that no one in the country could have missed the massive ‘beast’ that hit our shores at the start of the month, the biggest weather event to hit the country since 1982! When any big unscheduled event hits, it can drive fluctuations in media consumption and we have seen that news media channels were able to ‘weather’ the storm and reap the largest rewards with audience numbers.

RTE was the go to TV station for news updates with their news and weather programming dominating the top twenty programmes across the period.  Over the few days of the storm period, ten of the top twenty were news/weather related with eight of these sitting on RTE and two on TV3. When we compare this to week on week figures and year on year, news/weather programmes normally take four- five of the top twenty spots so clear to see the nation were still keen to tune into TV, a trusted media source to get the latest weather updates.

According to RTE, TV wasn’t the only place people were actively consuming news. On RTE.ie/RTE News Now, there was 3.4m unique users across the news apps during the storm. This was a new weekly record for them and even higher than the week of storm Ophelia. Of their top ten articles, nine were purely weather related and the 10th still storm related news of the Lidl looting.

While everyone that had experienced the big snow of 1982 was fearing what was to come, the big difference in 2018 was that we were experiencing the storm through digital, social and real-time technology. The nation were able to check updates on their phone in real time before they even got out of bed on the weather status, transport arrangements on the bus/LUAS/Train and supermarket openings. Digital technology allowed some people ease of access for working from home. Technology also allowed brands to react in real time to the storm. Our own Gillian Clifford references how Brennans bread reacted to the storm and the importance for brands of being able to react quickly to fluid moments.

What really stood out this time around though was the social conversation around the storm on social media. Instead of seeing all doom and gloom about the weather that news channels may present, social showed us a fresh perspective of how people were actually enjoying the snow.  There was multiple images posted and shared of snowmen being built from the basic to the advanced full on igloos and snow sculptures. Social media was used to organise large scale snowball fight events. There were lovely social stories of communities coming together to help the emergency services, helping people get to weddings, helping people in their local area and truly showed special family time and memories being created.

Above all, social really demonstrated that Irish people love having the craic and our love of bread really came to the fore here with multiple memes and games created, who knew we loved bread so much!

For me, the key things that have come out of the storm were:

  • Media is important, TV is nowhere near dead, still a trusted media source for people and people want to consume important news updates through trusted sources
  • We are a social nation that loves having the craic but will come together in times of need
  • We love bread! I don’t think anyone will ever forget that one!