Millions of marketing dollars are spent yearly on trying to convince consumers that the agriculture industry is not the monster that media makes it out to be. How, with all this money being spent, is our message not getting across? Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity(CFI) and Speaker at the Illinois Farm Bureau Income and Innovation Conference, spoke on this issue and referenced CFI’s research into how to better communicate messages about food and agriculture.
Arnot noted that we are in a new age of increased access to technology. Not all that long ago, Americans gathered around the family television set and watched one of the few channels that would come in or read the newspaper. Now, everyone is a reporter on Facebook recording anything they deem important or worthy and there are more television channels than one knows what to do with. It is foolish, old fashioned thinking to imagine that an organization can control the message, rather, they must now be a part of the larger conversation.
As a farmer and producer, you are the expert and to many people, your life is a mystery. Join the conversation and share your story with the world. You don’t have to be a schooled communicator to do this, you don’t even have to sit down at your computer. Consider sharing your story in these simple ways.
- Have a conversation. If you see a consumer in the grocery story studying products looking confused, consider asking them what makes them decide what to purchase one product over another. If they admit they worry about antibiotics in their meat, offer that you do too and that is why strict guidelines are followed. It is important to empathize, consumers don’t know, they simply want to make the best decision for their family.
- Join social media. Share that amazing picture you took when you were picking corn at sunset. You have a job that sees some life’s highs and lows, share that with the world. Not sure how to get that picture out there, ask anyone you see glued to their smartphone. They should be happy to help.
- Are you a bit more tech savvy? Write a story about your life as a farmer and get it out there. Post it on a blog or share it with your friends. When your life is a foreign concept to so many, there is a draw to learning more. Don’t be afraid to share.
Think you have a story with sharing? Share it. Get it online whether you do it yourself or get your child or grandchild to do it for you. Don’t think you have a story to share? You’re wrong. The daily grind that has become normal after years is still exciting and new to others. Give them an insight into a day in the life of a farmer and remind consumers that you have the same concerns they do, feeding their family and yours.