UK – Speaking to the media offers the opportunity to unlock the power of story-telling, according to media consultant, Malcolm Munro, speaking at a forum at the Pig and Poultry Fair this week, reports Jackie Linden.
Media have a massive impact on all things today and food and farming are no different,” said Meurig Raymond, President of the National Farmers Union in introducing guest speaker at the Fair’s forum session entitled ‘Unlocking the power of the media to grow out business’.
Starting as a journalist with the UK TV company, ITN, Mr Munro has since broadened his career with seven years as a consultant to the milk and meat sectors so he has experience of the media from both sides.
Journalists, he said, are looking for a story that it topical, relevant to their readership, interesting and including facts and opinions from “real people” rather than press officers.
Key to success, he continued, is to tell such stories well - and often.
The food and farming sectors have many good stories to tell, he said, citing the “exceptional contributions made by the pig and poultry sectors” to the UK economy in terms of employment, food supply, environment, animal welfare and reputation for quality.
According to Mr Munro, it is not just these sectors that feel they are under fire from the media; all industries feel the same.
It is right that we are answerable to our critics but we need to be able to put the record straight, he said.
He warned against waiting for the next crisis but rather recommended making a continuous flow of positive stories proactively.
There is a gap between the public’s expectations and realities but their perceptions can change if they get the opportunity to visit farms, for example, he continued.
The most persuasive stories are those based on case studies with quotes, examples and stories that can be referenced.
While these stories need to be based on facts, “an emotional connection with your audience is important,” according to Mr Munro.
Stories need to be authentic, from the heart and represent reality, he added.
This was used to great effect in the ‘Stand by Your Ham’ campaign of a few years ago, in which representatives from the country’s pig industry recorded a song as part of a campaign aiming to tell consumers that is was worth paying a little more for UK- produced pork.
“Every story, correction, addition and repetition of a story about your industry helps to build reputation and trust,” Mr Munro concluded. “Reputation is the sum of what you do, what you say and what other say about you.”