Amy has over 20 years’ experience in communications and PR, in consultancies and in-house, working for a huge range of organisations from charities to blue chip businesses, international NGOs and SMEs. But she also has hands-on skills in farming and industry. Amy’s passionate about animal welfare and finicky about facts! She regularly speaks about communication issues facing different industries – from barriers to planning and development to antibiotic resistance, and has recently completed a Nuffield Scholarship examining the communication issues faced by ‘megafarms’.
Dairy farming and its food chain have been linked to some of the world’s most contentious issues, from GMs, antibiotics and treatment of migrant labour to hormones, animal welfare and climate change.
There are indisputable challenges facing the sector, but vocal minorities and NGOs have become skilful at harnessing modern communications techniques to reach consumers, and through them, use their influence to force through the changes they want – sometimes at the expense of what is seen as ‘inconvenient’ science.
Many issues are pre-competitive, and a slow, fragmented or marketing-led response to handling them risks providing short term gain at the expense of a longer term confidence in the wider industry.
The challenge is to change the way these issues are handled by the industry, through:
– Anticipating – monitor for contentious topics, be prepared and act first
– Collaboration – work as one to tackle the concerns, avoiding ‘divide and conquer’ tactics
– Authenticity – provide a unique and fair insight to the genuine facts, sharing challenges if necessary
– Proactivity – find ways to demonstrate ‘listening’ and show action to address the problems… rather than hoping they go away
Several case studies demonstrate how farming and food chain companies are already successfully managing such issues by adopting ways of neutralising NGOs, communicating with the media, and sharing the challenges they face.
In this presentation, I will share my observations on all these aspects – why we face the challenges we do, what we need to do to address this, and what others are getting right.