Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Are farmers doing enough to promote a positive public image?

I often think about our industry and how we approach our own PR. 

Many farmers do a great job in taking responsibility for the public image of British farming plc. They take the time to speak to non-farming journalists, open their farms to the public or help to teach schoolchilren where their food comes from.

But it is tends to be the same farmers taking the time and care to represent the rest of the industry. It's easy to think that it's not my responsibility - that someone else will, or is more able, to take up the mantle. 

I feel that we all have a responsibility to take some time with interested or vocal members of the public we meet, to engage with them and to educate them on farming's practices. There will be times in the future when we need to call on the goodwill that our industry has banked from positive PR in peacetime - BSE and Foot & Mouth are salutary reminders of the crises that our industry may need to defend again. But pray to God that we don't.

The task of PR need not be an onerous one; it can be as small a gesture as having a chat with a walker watching a ewe lamb, or speaking to a fellow traveller on a train who takes an interest in a farmer spreading muck or combining a field of wheat. 

For those who have the confidence to air their practices more widely, opening your farm up to your local school or community groups can be a powerful way to show interested people what you do and why you do it. It can also bring great pleasure. Many five it a go linked to Open Farm Sunday, an initiative that I savour every time I hear or speak about it. 

An easy bit of DIY PR for you: 
One of my long-standing clients, BASF, has started a marketing campaign for us in the industry to show our pride for our farming industry and our farmers. It gives us all a chance to shout loud about what we do. Whether you just want to wear a t-shirt, or you'd like to do more, check out www.thebiggestjobonearth.co.uk and get involved.

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