When we began working with Vaisala in August of 2017, one of the first projects we worked on was pitching Vaisala’s lightning technology into Hurricane Irma. With the severity of the storm increasing and expected to hit land in the next day or so, we did not have much time to plan a strategy, but we jumped in and began pitching immediately. We received some coverage, but not as much as we would have hoped.
We put our learnings into practice for the 2018 season:
- Lesson #1: Pitch earlier.
- Lesson #2: Provide solid data and visual support.
- Lesson #3: Offer quality expertise for an interview.
Early in 2018, we began discussing ways to gain the interest of reporters and meteorologists during the launch of and throughout hurricane season. Vaisala is the largest maker of dropsondes, which are the devices sent into hurricanes by Hurricane Hunters to obtain much-needed data to track the storms. With the company’s help, we obtained 20 dropsonde props to send to the media.
To kick off hurricane season, we sent national media and targeted markets in the hurricane zone a Vaisala-branded dropsonde prop with which they could use to explain forecasting of the tropical weather. We also worked with Vaisala to prepare an infographic that described the anatomy of a dropsonde in order to explain what it did.
We pitched the dropsondes and an interview with Vaisala’s chief science officer at the beginning of hurricane season. Later, we pitched into hurricanes Lane and Florence as well as Tropical Storm Gordon reminding the outlets about the dropsonde they had in their possession and delivered the new infographic. As the storms continued, we freshened up the pitch with lightning data and a GIF that Vaisala provided as Hurricane Florence came toward landfall in the U.S.
When hurricane season started, we had success with meteorologists using the dropsonde prop to explain hurricane forecasting. The Vaisala expert was interviewed by top-tier outlets, including Popular Science and The Weather Channel.
In late August and well into September, Hurricane Lane, Tropical Storm Gordon and Hurricane Florence provided a steady cadence of tropical activity, which allowed us plenty of pitching opportunities. Between the prop, the infographic and the lighting data (and GIF) we obtained coverage from ABC News, Forbes, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal online, on television and on social media.