OPINION: Climate presents endless opportunities

Long-range weather forecasts predict endless blazing sunshine, bringing with it a deluge of diverse opportunities for PROs.

For the messages to be conveyed around the blue skies are no longer about the simple delights of a long, sunny summer. Instead, there is the ‘proof' of the march of global warming: the heightened risk of skin cancer, the imminence of hosepipe bans and the emergency plans for standpipes on street corners when the reservoirs begin to run dry.

Farmers will proclaim the hardship and rising food prices caused by the scorched earth, local ­authorities will promulgate a hundred heatwave contingency plans while seeking to assure council tax payers that festering piles of uncollected rubbish do not pose a health hazard.

For ice-cream and drinks manufacturers, the stories will be of record sales. Dozens of regional UK tourist boards will trumpet the joys of stay-at-home summer holidays while airlines and the foreign travel industry will be seeking front-page coverage of the Costa holidays they are offering for less than the price of a round of Costa coffees.

The UK media will lap it all up. After all, talking about the weather is a defining national characteristic and one that TV and newspapers are happy to indulge. Prognoses of weather and the attendant scare stories provide an endless flow of cheap and accessible content. More days than not, the weather makes a page lead in papers such as the Daily Mail and The Telegraph. The Sun never misses a chance to use sunshine as a way to vary its page three permutations.

Watch out too for government ministers burying bad news beneath the heatwave. Will Gordon Brown's government be able to ­resist the early appointment of a Secretary of State for Sun, to be followed shortly by his or her Minister for Rain?

For PROs, the challenge will be to freshen up the trusty old stunts and add a few more. Prepare for the frying of an egg on the sweltering pavements of London and for giant thermometers on the beaches, recording each record temperature with sultry beauties lazing around them. Pictures of cracked and parched reservoirs are guaranteed.

Keeping the media lenses away from the leaking pipes as the hosepipe bans empty swimming pools and cause cherished gardens to dry out will be a tougher challenge. Global warming messages will have to be tempered so as not to provoke either unbridled terror or cynicism.

Rarely has the weather brought the opportunities it offers in the current climate of opinion. The PR industry should make hay while the sun shines.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and was formerly a senior newspaper executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun

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