How storytelling helps build industry resilience
Being honest, authentic and interesting to the public are the most important factors when talking about farming, according to BBC journalist Anna Jones and communications specialist Kendra Hall.
Both women’s careers in the agricultural industry are firmly set in communicating about food and farming so they are well placed to offer support and advice to those without the specialist skills.
Anna Jones is a freelance journalist and broadcaster and runs Just Farmers, an organisation linking farmers and the media and helping to increase farmers’ confidence in working with journalists.
As a PR specialist, Kendra Hall supports clients across the industry with their communications strategies and is doing a Nuffield Scholarship on ‘building trust in British farming through increased transparency of on-farm livestock production’.
Speaking to host and Cornish farmer Peter Green in an episode of Cornish Mutual’s Farming Focus podcast, Anna and Kendra explained why storytelling and public relations is vital to the industry’s future.
“If you don’t connect with the public, you’ll become irrelevant,” warned Anna. “You’ll lose the understanding of your end consumer and be producing a product for people you don’t know.”
Attitudes have changed she said. “We are no longer simply grateful for food, there is plenty available, and it doesn’t need to be British, so farmers have to work harder to retain customers.”
She suggests thinking like a storyteller rather than a farmer.
But with the average person scrolling through 13 metres of online content a day, how can farmers cut through the noise?
“Farmers don’t need to be the next social media influencer,” said Kendra. “There’s as much value in being involved at a local level – those closer relationships often have more impact and last longer.”
She suggests farmers are naturally defensive, assuming the public are going to be critical. “Be authentic. Show the public you care and have good values. And if something does go wrong, own it!
“Take that first step, listen to your community and let them know what you’re doing and why; it might just open doors.”
Listen to Anna and Kendra discuss how storytelling can build industry resilience in episode 5 of Cornish Mutual’s Farming Focus Podcast, available at https://www.cornishmutual.co.uk/news-advice/farming-focus-podcast/