The Cat’s Meow: Inside the Poncho Writers’ Room

How does Poncho — the cat, the myth, the legend — write his twice-daily weather forecasts? For a closer look, we go into the writers’ room, a magical place where puns spring eternal and GIFs grow on trees.

A freshly picked GIF.

Poncho’s voice emerged early on as a lighthearted approach to the weather, chock full of allusions to both high and lowbrow culture. Former head writer Alex Bedder developed the voice at its inception. “My inspiration was how I explained things to my friends, which used humor and pop culture references to illustrate and describe what I was talking about,” Bedder said. “Mostly I tried to recreate the same way a friend may make another friend laugh.”

To try to catch everything that may be of interest to Poncho users, the editorial team keeps a monthly content calendar, noting important dates (like Oprah’s birthday, obvs) and cultural happenings. One rule is to never go for low-hanging fruit and try to stay ahead of the curve. Rather than jumping on memes, the writers dig deeper and bring a unique perspective to the table.

The editorial team is now led by head writer Allie Kokesh, who is the keeper of the brand voice, and managing editor Stephanie Chan, who coordinates between departments and implements workflow, herding cats semi-literally. With Poncho growing quickly from 7 states to 48 in only a year, the team has also grown to 17 editors. Nine editors work on-site at Poncho HQ while another eight editors work remotely to help input forecasts during the week and write forecasts for the weekends.

An editor’s day starts at 5 AM — yes, every day — when all forecasts must be input into a custom admin panel built by Poncho’s awesome engineering team. In addition to checking out the various weather patterns at a glance on the panel, editors also check for severe weather to make sure forecasts are appropriate for those regions.

An actual editor (above).

At 11 AM, editors begin generating forecast concepts based on current events and trending topics. This is in preparation for the daily midday writers’ room meeting where editors pitch and discuss ideas. Head writer Allie and Creative Director James Cooper cull the best ideas, based on timeliness, Poncho-iness, and whether they elicit a laugh from the room.

1 PM to 5 PM is rigorously structured to allow for writing, editing, proofing, and inputting forecasts for that day’s evening, as well as writing for the next day’s morning. From 5 PM to 9 PM, a rotating shift of evening editors input forecasts for the next morning, ensuring that users will be able to receive a morning forecast even before the next day’s 5 AM shift.

Creating Poncho’s voice is a unique challenge of interpreting complex weather data and distilling it into bite-sized pieces. Aiding the editors is a smart bit of engineering as well as our unique ultra-secret data-clustering technology. The whole enterprise is humans and robots working together in perfect harmony just like Kit and The Hoff. It’s what enables us to write forecasts for over 42,000 zip codes.

Synergy.

Poncho’s editorial team works 7 days a week and through holidays, providing topical forecasts and alerting users to any inclement weather that may occur. While meeting hourly deadlines, editors also craft copy for Poncho’s app, the Poncho Slackbot, marketing materials, and sponsored content for partnerships, such as the upcoming collaboration with GE’s Ecomagination division, which will take bad weather (e.g. rain!) and show the good it can do (e.g. hydroturbines!).

An actual hydroturbine (ab0ve).

With Poncho’s expansion into 48 states as well as the launch of our new app, the editorial team is excited that our forecasts will reach more people than ever. Soon, everyone will know when Oprah’s birthday is (January 29th btw).

If you have any other questions about Poncho’s editorial team, you can email stephanie@poncho.is or leave a comment below.

Special Poncho thanks to fellow editorial minions: Allie Kokesh, Molly Bradley, Eric Silver, Ashley D’Arcy, Ryan Haney, Timmy Wood, Clara Morris, Alex French, Catherine Miller, Amber Maczaczyj, Casey Halter, Janet Silverman, Jonterri Gadson, Alex Watt, Taylor Williams, and Alexis Rhiannon.