Monday, November 30, 2009

Ag Needs "Parallel Response"

Remaking agriculture's image: Time for a 'parallel response'
30 Nov, 2009 04:15 PM

TO get their message out today, food producers need to have an entirely new sense of urgency and need to use an entirely new set of alliances and tools, according to one specialist in issues management.

This requires first a desire to actually respond, then alliances with interests that are not traditional to agriculture, then capabilities to communicate plus outreach that transmit messages consistently, continuously and rapidly, explained George Clark, director of the issues and crisis group at Burson-Marsteller in Washington, D.C.

"The (communications) landscape has changed dramatically," he said, whereby a "story" can leap from a cell phone photo or video to YouTube in seconds, and food producers need "a parallel response".

F ood producers need this response because activism is occurring on a broader frequency that's more opposed to agriculture and conventional food production than ever, he said.

Furthermore, activists are taking their agendas directly to the media and public, which agriculture tends to avoid, Clark said, noting that this process begets funding and membership and creates support for the agendas.

Activists are in the conflict industry, he said - creating conflict to raise money to create more conflict to raise more money. Read More

I would take the suggestions in this article one step further and challenge farmers and ranchers to be engaged with our consumers long before an issue arises. If we can build those relationships and teach people about what we do, then when challenges for animal rights groups arise it becomes almost a non-issue. It also makes you a source of accurate information for consumers and the media when an issue arises, which will give you a great opportunity to share your story.

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