Public Relations & Farming: The best of friends?
If we were to put a label on the relationship status between farmers and the media, I imagine the best fit would be, ‘it’s complicated’.
The farming community hasn’t traditionally been portrayed in the most flattering light, and this is a stereotype I intend to shake up.
Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support to influence opinion and behaviour (The Institute of Public Relations).
The years ahead will provide opportunities to make people consider the implications of their spending power. Their perceptions are crucial.
Food glorious food, is on most people’s minds a lot of the time. The amount of cookery shows and books is immense. So how does an industry so close to agriculture, not mention us?
Food traceability is a growing trend, joined by Farmer’s markets and people buying either straight from the farm, or through companies and initiatives such as Farmdrop.
Read into that behaviour what you will, but I suggest it means more people are curious about where their food comes from.
Just by way of example, there’s been media dialogue about glyphosate and genetically modified food. But, the cynic in me feels that it was the opposition’s voice which was louder than ours.
One day a week, I work for our farm in Suffolk, therefore the majority of my working week is spent in a non-agricultural environment in London.
It’s during that city time that I overhear conversations like, ‘does almond milk come from cows that only eat almonds?’.
Time and again I’m left wincing at such comments, but it prompts me to acknowledge that we need to communicate more effectively with the public and each other.
Farming’s multi-disciplinary nature means messages can travel through different subjects, with potentially positive impact on other areas, Health and Environment. For example, can you imagine a strategy, campaigns and budget that mirrored MacDonald’s?
So, how do we engage with the ones that do not tune in to Countryfile on a weekly basis, visit Open Farm Sunday annually or watch a Farmer’s Weekly video they stumbled upon after seeing a cow do a backflip on YouTube?
The trick is making our messages simple, relatable, accessible, with a sprinkling of humorous analogies. I propose the young UK farmers have all these components and we should learn how to befriend the mysterious media far better.
So, as communication is key to all relationships, please let us talk! firstname.lastname@example.org