In the previous two posts (Part 1, Part 2), I have discussed tips from my discussion with Daren Williams, Director of Communications with NCBA. Story telling is the most effective method of communication and we have a responsibility to communicate our story of production agriculture to the world.
In Part 2, I gave a challenge to create a 30-second elevator speech. How did you do? Maybe you’re actually in an elevator, or more likely in line at the Wal-Mart register. A conversation comes up and the other leaves a window of opportunity for you to give a plug for yourself and agriculture. What would you say? It is important to have something in mind. Mine would be something simple, along the lines of “I come from a family of Arkansas cattle ranchers who raise the beef that ends up on your plate.” If it looks like someone who may be a social media user, I may add “I also help farmers and ranchers learn to use Facebook and Twitter to bring farm life to town.”
Starting the conversation is only the first step. Whether the conversation be in a grocery store or in front of a media reporter, you have to keep a specific message in mind. Who is the audience? What questions will be asked? Take time to write down any questions that may be asked in that situation. Keep in mind the message you want to convey. Will your message be relevant or resonate with the audience? Keep your message simple and trimmed to two or three key points. During media interviews think in soundbites and headlines that will be easy to use in a news story.
“It’s always a risk to speak to the press; they are likely to report what you say.”
–Hubert H. Humphrey
The conversation includes more than just your message. The words you say can have an impact on how well the message is received. Groups appealing to consumer emotions are good at painting a picture with using words, and this is something agriculture needs to be observant of as well. Avoid industry lingo when talking with non-Ag consumers. Words like producer or industry may better be replaced with farmer or community. Notice I used “Beef Community” in the post title. Does it paint a different picture compared to “Beef Industry” for non-Ag consumers?
Be careful when using education, facts, and statistics. Remember, consumers trust farmers and ranchers as individuals. They are looking for our stories of food production, not a walking book of statistics and definitions. It is important to know the nutritional power of beef (provides 10 essential nutrients, provides 50% of daily protein in one serving, or 29 lean cuts), but if I want to know these facts, I will make an effort to look em up. It is ok to work them in as a part of your message, but don’t make them your message.
Whatever your message, however you communicate your message, be passionate about it, make it your personal story, and have fun making those connections. If you are truly passionate about being a part of the beef community, in front of a camera or in line at the grocery, sharing your story should come easy.
What did you take from this short-series of posts about advocating about the beef community?