Understanding how to interact with consumers and improve communication across the food chain was the main topic of discussion at the opening sessions of the Animal Agriculture Alliance's 12th Annual Stakeholders Summit in Arlington, Va., Wednesday.
Panelists discussed topics ranging from "ag gag" legislation to communication with online moms.
"The public needs to know they can trust us. We need to close the gap between a producer and a consumer," said Joe Miller, General Counsel for Rose Acre Farms, an Indiana-based egg producer.
"We don't need them to understand us, we need to understand them," he added.
Miller was part of a panel on farm protection legislation and communications. His panel was followed by another discussion entitled, "Demystifying the Blogosphere: How to Engage Online Moms."
Two bloggers, Joanne Bamberger and Sarah Braesch participated on the panel, which was moderated by David Wescott, Director of Digital Strategy at APCO Worldwide, a business consultancy firm.
"I'm here to give you a bit of a reality check," Wescott said, noting that, "social media has been isolating communities more and more and those communities tend to take very extreme positions and it becomes harder and harder for those communities to interact."
Wescott said the key will be finding middle ground between consumers and farmers, and a verifiable middle ground represents itself in online moms.
"Women, your consumers, are getting their information from bloggers that they know and trust," Bamberger said. "There are really good conversational ways to get your message out to that audience, you just need to put in the effort and develop the relationships."
Wescott added that social media can be a weapon against the very extreme positions it may foster.
"It's about people talking. Keep it simple: know who your stakeholders really are, ask them what they want, and then give it to them," he said.
News source: Animal Ag Alliance