Friday, December 25, 2009

Decem-brr: Weather means “business”

Talking cold, snow and rain? You're talking Commerce, too

It's currently -16° F. First cold snap of Fall. The coldest weather in some time. Even worse for the Midwest and East Coast. And to think that Winter is still ahead. In the meantime, skiers and boarders are rocking the Rockies. Traditional travel, however, is challenging. Roads are icy. Airlines juggle schedules. Trips are canceled.
Along the West Coast, flooding rains and wind paralyzed highways and stranded vehicles.

There is so much more to "our" weather and it's worth talking about. It's a story about global commerce. Moving goods and services. Negotiating the elements. By car, truck, van, rail, planes, pipeline, tankers, and cargo and passenger ships. Here's one you may take for granted: space weather. It is critical to meteorology, national defense and communications, (like the cell phone you're holding or cable channel you're watching - all those satellites). Weather is that decision to make a trip to shop or see a movie...or not. About staffing hospitals, government agencies and stores - if the staff can get in.

All this ahead of the Holiday season,
which makes this cold outbreak all that more important. This is crunch time for retail and the U.S. economy. Consumer behavior is responsible for two-thirds of the nation's commerce, it is estimated. So, the next time you're watching or listening to a forecast, remember the weather means "business." It's one reason - as a trained National Weather Service spotter, former broadcast reporter and a spokesperson on global science and technology affairs - I followed it closely. Still do. So do energy and environment officials, transportation leaders, utilities, commodities traders, Wall Street, and cities and local governments.

Storm Clouds My advice: your PR agency, investor and media relations, marketing and communications staff, and your leadership team should all not only follow the weather, but also develop plans for it. After all, weather is their "business," too. Big business. And how your firm manages its impacts can help define your market and management's reputation.

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