Alfa SkyCam Network Keeps Adding Eyes To Southern Skies
More than a year after launching a partnership with Montgomery’s WAKA-TV Channel 8 to place six weather cameras throughout the CBS affiliate’s coverage area, Alfa Insurance’s SkyCam network continues to add eyes to the skies.Today, the Alfa SkyCams are part of an ever-expanding network of more than 50 live cameras that pan the skies from WAFF-TV in Huntsville all the way to WKRG-TV in Mobile and from Mississippi to Georgia, alerting television viewers of severe weather while raising Alfa’s brand recognition to new heights.”You could not buy this much advertising with the amount of money we’ve invested in these cameras,” said Marlene Frith, Alfa’s media director. “We are getting a daily promotion — a logo and a mention — in every newscast of these TV stations every day on every newscast. And when there’s severe weather and the stations go wall-to-wall with their weather coverage, it’s constantly ‘Alfa…Alfa…Alfa.'”More importantly, Frith said, is that the Alfa SkyCam is providing an important service. “It’s a great community involvement because these cameras could actually save lives,” said Frith. “It’s not just about promoting Alfa Insurance.”Alfa President and CEO Jerry A. Newby agreed. “I believe it’s important to give something back to the communities where you do business, and this is a way that Alfa Insurance can be a good corporate citizen,” Newby said. “The Alfa SkyCams are giving viewers an early warning of severe weather and, hopefully, more time to take shelter.”Jim Caruthers, general manager of WAKA, said the Alfa SkyCams have become popular with viewers because it allows them to actually see the weather conditions as they are happening, and not rely solely on radar images on a map.”During the February storms when the devastation hit Prattville, we actually tracked that storm all the way from the Mississippi line, and we actually saw the tornado on the camera in Andalusia,” said Caruthers. “We’ve had a tremendous reaction from viewers. A lot of people have been very appreciative of the fact that we have these cameras because it gives them a sense of security because you never know when one of these storms will drop a tornado.”Chris Bailey, WAKA’s chief meteorologist, said the cameras have become a valuable tool in the weather forecasting arsenal because they can allow the meteorologist to sometimes see things the radar can’t.Because most storm fronts move into Alabama from Mississippi, Bailey is particularly excited that four Mississippi stations — WLBT in Jackson, WDAM in Laurel/Hattiesburg, WCBI in Columbus/Tupelo and WTOK in Meridian — recently signed onto the Alfa SkyCam network and will be up and running this summer.”Before we had this camera network, we could look at some of the weather readings that were coming in from Mississippi, but we couldn’t see things until they got to our areas like around Demopolis and Jackson and Thomasville in west Alabama,” Bailey said. “But now, with the addition of cameras in Hattiesburg and Meridian and Jackson, we can see things before they ever make it onto Alabama soil.”All cameras and installation are provided by the Hamilton, Ala.-based company, StratusStation. Dave Rickey, Alfa’s vice president of public relations, was pleased that Alfa was working with another Alabama company to make the network happen.
Frith says the sky’s the limit for Alfa SkyCam campaign, adding that she is currently negotiating with Georgia television stations in Atlanta, Macon, Columbus and Albany. “It’s a great way for us to increase our brand awareness, particularly out of state where not everyone knows the Alfa name,” Frith said. “It’s helping grow our business.”