With temperatures rising to unprecedented levels in 2022, heatwaves and climate change became a hot topic on traditional and social media. People in the UK were especially concerned as the island nation recorded its hottest day in history on 19 July, with temperatures soaring over 40°C. How do we know this? We are media monitoring and analysis experts!

We monitored online conversations for the period 10 July – 8 August in the UK market and found that a significant number of discussions covered health concerns, fires and accidents, transport issues, and other disruptions to daily life.

This raises two important questions:

  • Can these disruptions to daily life impact businesses?
  • Can media monitoring help businesses minimise that impact?

The answer to both questions is YES!

Here are four ways climate change and heatwaves can impact your business and how media monitoring can help you act on time to protect your business and your employees!

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1. Transportation issues and delayed logistics

Our media monitoring report noted an increase in global warming and heatwave mentions in mid-July, as the UK prepared for a week of extremely high temperatures. On 15 July, the authorities announced a level-4 red alert based on forecasts for temperatures reaching 40°C in the coming days, which experts explained was due to global warming.

Mentions peaked on 19 July, when England recorded 40°C for the first time in its history, a topic more extensively covered on social media.

Traditional media outlets reported on a number of issues linked to the heatwave such as fires and transport problems, including closed roads, railway transit restrictions, cancelled flights due to melting runway tarmac, and lack of air conditioning and low water pressure at Gatwick airport.

Countries such as the UK where housing and infrastructure are not built to accommodate such high temperatures can lead to employees missing work due to a shortage in transport methods. Transportation problems can also harm businesses by causing delays in their shipping logistics, especially for those offering same-day deliveries.

Staying up-to-date with new developments through media monitoring can help you identify problems early and give you more time to think of solutions.

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2. Drastic changes in weather can drive business trends

As a business, you must stay on top of trends. Our media intelligence report pointed towards new business trends driven by the weather in the UK. For example:

Marks & Spencer stopped selling disposable barbecues to help reduce the risk of fires.

Aldi store temporarily restricted bottled water sales to one bottle per customer to avoid a shortage.

Sunscreen and ice cream registered increased sales, while some businesses, such as restaurants and pubs, saw a decline in customer numbers.

Monitoring what your competitors are doing and how their actions are received by online audiences is paramount.

By doing so, you can shape your crisis communications to minimise damage caused by online outrage as well as find alternative solutions to problems caused by the weather.

More importantly, timely media monitoring can help you identify gaps in the market that perhaps your business has the competency to fill in.

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3. The well-being of your employees can be jeopardised

Employees are every business’ driving force. Heatwaves are dangerous for people from any age group, and can cause health complications that can result in prolonged sick leaves. As a business, you have to protect your employees to ensure smooth operations. Media monitoring can give you insights into what people need to function in extreme weather conditions and information on what other companies are doing for their employees.

For example, ahead of the record-temperature day, Twitter posts and online publications often featured advice on staying cool, keeping homes cool, and taking care of pets during the heatwave. The attention was on the effects of extreme weather on people and animals, with reports on wildlife reporting on cases of dehydrated birds falling from the sky.

Timely access to such information can help you figure out the best way to protect your employees. Your business could switch to the hybrid work model that lets people decide whether they want to work from home or come to the office.

If your office offers better working conditions than people have at home, you can organise transport to the offices for those that have to commute long distances. If your company is pet friendly, perhaps you can provide space for employees’ pets so they are not left home alone.

With electricity prices rising due to the current inflation, not many people have the luxury to leave the AC on all day at home for their pets while they are away at work. Moreover, a 2021 report by Britain’s Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) estimated that less than 5% of homes in England have AC units installed.

4. Heatwaves can become an annual occurrence

On 18 July, The Mirror reported that scientists expect heatwaves to become a regular annual occurrence. On the same date, The Guardian featured an op-ed by Bill McGuire, climate activist and UCL professor emeritus of climate hazards, according to whom the present extreme heat is “just the beginning” and by the end of the century, 40°C will seem like a “cool” temperature. Meteorologist Scott Duncan, one of the top social media influencers in the observed period, tweeted that climate change caused by people made it easy to break extreme heat thresholds, generating 30.1K interactions on the platform.

Our analysis of the responses to this information that links the heatwave with climate change showed a division in public opinion. For example, deniers often cited the 1976 heatwave in the UK as proof that climate change was overhyped. Meanwhile, climate scientists warned that the UK could no longer be considered a cold country, with periods of extreme heat expected to become increasingly common and last longer.

Whether you believe in climate change or not, your business should stay on top of these conversations.

More importantly, your long-term planning should include countermeasures in case heatwaves become an annual occurrence.

Download the full media analysis report

Our media analysis report Global Warming & Heatwaves in Europe provides an in-depth analysis and detailed insights on:

  • Volume and Engagement over the monitored period;
  • Sentiment and media types breakdown;
  • Five main topics that drove conversations;
  • Top traditional media sources by reach;
  • Top three influential voices.

Download the full report HERE