Met Office comms chief will emphasise non-BBC activities after contract loss

The Met Office head of comms says she will emphasise the broader role the weather forecasting agency plays in UK life after the well-publicised loss of its BBC contract - but says there is no need for a major overhaul of its PR strategy.

Dee Cotgrove (pictured above), executive head of comms at the agency, was speaking to PRWeek after the news that the Met Office has lost its longstanding contract with the BBC gained widespread coverage on Sunday and Monday.

She said that that coverage had in places over-emphasised the financial importance of the BBC contract, which she said was worth less than £3m out of its £208m income in the year ending March 2014 – with £175.4m coming from government sources.

Cotgrove said that with the vast majority of the agency's work being non-BBC, that relationship had a greater value in giving the Met Office a chance to build a relationship with the public. She said: "For us it was almost not really about the money."

She said: "To some extent the contract loss doesn’t really change our comms strategy; the main strand of which is to be trusted, listened to and acted upon. It was heartening to hear the level of public support we’ve had and that’s really important, that we continue to be trusted by the public."

Cotgrove went on to say: "I think people don't realise – and so we need to work hard to demonstrate this – the value that we provide to the UK as a whole." This includes providing services to the armed forces, to the air travel sector and to retailers to allow them to adjust stock accordingly, among other clients, she said.

Cotgrove also said that the Met Office will have to work hard to ensure that where it does still appear on the BBC, such as giving information about severe weather forecasts, that it can "ensure consistency of message" given that it will no longer be the sole provider with public exposure.

Asked whether it was time for a rebrand, to appoint a new PR agency or any major change in comms strategy, Cotgrove pointed to a YouGov poll carried out quarterly on behalf of the Met Office that found 80 per cent of the public trusted the agency. "We’ve got an extremely strong brand that’s really trusted by the public so we wouldn’t want to mess with that," she said.

In its blog responding to Sunday's news, the Met Office had referred to itself as a "trusted British institution".

The Met Office works with Three Monkeys Communications for trade PR.

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