Friday, 27 September 2013

Telling Scotland's rich stories - mighty fine that they are

In Scotland's rural and farming communities we have a wealth of rich stories to tell to an increasingly receptive public. The heightened consumer interest in concepts like rusticity, home-made, British and grow-your-own, all play firmly into our hands.

We have imagery and stories other industries would die for - fresh food, landscape, new-born animals, mountains, greenery - the list is endless.

What's incredible about Scotland's food and farming sector is that we are very good at making the most of what we have. The quality of the food and drink that we produce from our land is tremendous, valuable and of strategic importance to Scotland.

Despite 85% of our farmland being categorised as less favoured area, compared with just 17% in England and less than 2% in Denmark, we have some of the world's most iconic and aspirationalbrands originating from our countryside - Scotch beef, Scotch whisky, Harris Tweed to name but a few. Whisky contributes £4bn to the Scottish economy and red £2.1 billion.


For businesses making their livelihoods from the rural environs, we are lucky that we have a huge number of outlets for our stories - national and newspapers, TV, radio, magazines and the trade press.

The number of outlets is increasing - for example, there were 433 new magazine launches in 2012 alone - this investment shows that the 'glossie's market is still vibrant despite the warnings we've all heard that digital would be the death of printed media.

In Scotland we have a rich media landscape, with strong rural coverage on TV and radio (Landward and Out of Doors for example) and via both national and regional press. Rural and farming content is growing on both TV and radio - driven by demand. Peak viewing for BBC Countryfile in its primetime slot of 7pm on a Sunday is 7 million. Often broadcasters focus on themes linked to food, countryside, wildlife and patriotism - all these storylines that we can legitimately use ourselves.

Our outlets are hugely amplified by social media. The power of blogs, Twitter and Facebook cannot be underestimated. The good thing about social media is that it is viral and free at its most basic entry - and by it's very nature of a self-selecting audience, followers choose to be interested in you and what you have to say.

Note to us all - get out there and tell our stories - mighty fine that they are!

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