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Agri Food Comms-Cast
A bite-size take on the current farm to food news agenda, produced for PR, communications and marketing professionals.
Apr 23, 2021
Championing British beef
The pressures currently facing the red meat sector globally are undeniable, making a strong case for the advocates of British beef production to take on the communications challenge with gusto. We look at the issue as Great British Beef Week kicks off. In the latest episode of the Agri-Food Comms Cast, Catherine Linch explores how this traditional sector is challenging some public’ perceptions and setting the record straight about the merits of British beef. Jilly Greed, farmer and co-founder of Ladies in Beef, discusses this year’s Great British Beef Week (GBBW), a celebratory annual campaign created to promote and champion beef production – from farm to fork. In the last 11 years, it’s garnered tremendous support from across the industry. This year, GBBW is backed by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), Agriculture, Horticulture and Development Board (AHDB) and Meat Promotion Wales. With sustainability as the theme for the 2021 event, Jilly believes connecting consumers with food provenance, the farmed countryside and how beef systems can support the environment is key to restoring the public’s affiliation with eating red meat. This episode also highlights the value of a breadth of communications channels, including popular films like Kiss the Ground and online events like We Eat Balanced and the RABI cookalong, that are spreading positive messages around sustainable farming within the agri-food sector and beyond.
Mar 26, 2021
Clubhouse or podcasts?
In episode three of season two of the Agri-Food Comms Cast, Catherine Linch unpicks how businesses and communications professionals can best go about navigating through the ever-growing social media landscape. Clubhouse, the new and exclusive social media app based on audio chat, is rapidly gaining traction. And with podcasts also increasing in popularity, where is time best spent and invested as a brand? In conversation with Catherine Linch in this episode is: · Alison Teare, marketing director, mentor, trainer and podcaster at Simply Marketing · James Sopp, former BBC post-production specialist turned digital and social media marketer at Buzzin Digital · Russell Goldsmith, founder of Audere Communications and host of the csuite podcast The exclusivity of an invite-only membership to Clubhouse is enticing and the functionality to create and join clubs, such as The Agriculturalists, and rooms within them, provide the opportunity to make new connections. But, currently, Clubhouse is unavailable to Android users and there are no analytics to assess its engagement. Plus, the expectation to join live conversations can be limiting to those working in the agri-food sector that are time-poor. On the other hand, interviews for podcasts can be arranged ahead of time and episodes are available to listen to on-demand via a multitude of platforms and devices. Therefore, podcasts are more widely accessible and inclusive to all audiences. Whether the medium of choice is Clubhouse or podcasts, the direction of travel for brand communications appears to be audio for content generation in the post-Covid era.
Feb 26, 2021
Getting engagement on the wellbeing issue
The communications challenge of effectively reaching out and achieving meaningful engagement on the topic of mental health and wellbeing is the topic discussed in the latest episode of the Agri-Food Comms Cast. Catherine Linch explores how two projects targeting producers at the coalface of food production have gone about getting traction and a real buzz around this vitally important topic. Alicia Chivers and Suzy Deeley of leading farming sector charity RABI discuss their ambitious Big Farming Survey. Despite being told ‘it couldn’t be done’, they have rejected the naysayers and gone ahead with a mammoth research project looking to get a survey response from thousands of farmers. The goal is to provide evidence of the significant and complex challenges farmers and producers are facing today. Using trusted peer to peer networks across the breadth of the sector has proved a tremendously successful route to both outreach and engagement. We also talk to Sheena Horner and Emma Picton-Jones of #Run1000 that became a competitive and community spirited race between the British nations and a team representing ‘the rest of the world’. It achieved trending status on social media and provided a much needed mental health boost for those who got involved in January while also raising funds for five mental health charities.
Jan 22, 2021
Art of influencer marketing
The Agri Food Comms-Cast(AFCC) explores the PR and marketing themes across the breadth of the food and farming industry. In the first episode of our second season, Catherine Linch explores the role of social media influencers. No longer confined to A-list celebrities, influencer marketing has spread to the breadth of B2C and increasingly B2B sectors that recognise the power of an influential voice on social channels. Working in a market that’s fully embraced the influencer marketing model; rural and equestrian PR specialist, Rhea Freeman, says engaging with social media influencers can be a useful way for brands to promote themselves and get in front of their target audiences. But to ensure brand alignment and optimum return on investment, doing your research and setting expectations is key. Gaining significant traction in the last year on Twitter and Instagram, Herefordshire farmer, Ally Hunter Blair, says having a large following on social media has led to TV broadcast opportunities, such as Born Mucky: Life on the Farm, and aiding diversification ventures in his farm business. He says keeping it real, avoiding controversy and staying true to what interests him, has contributed to his success.
Dec 18, 2020
Communicating the net zero message
The Agri Food Comms-Cast (AFCC) unpicks the marketing and communications stories behind the issues facing the food and farming sector. Episode 17 explores the communications challenge behind the massive global issue of transitioning the livestock sector to net zero. Lynsday Chapman, CEO of the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), introduced their new, independent industry report: Net Zero Carbon & UK Livestock. Providing a summary of known research and science on what’s understood about the topic of net zero in livestock systems, it delivers an unbiased baseline position for retailers, processors, governments and NGOs to talk from. Rob Hues, agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries manager at Waitrose joins the discussion having recently been part of the retailer’s roll out to their farms that laid down the gauntlet of reaching net zero on all its UK farms by 2035. He concurred that CIEL’s report is a practical framework that will be invaluable to the industry and support positive dialogue and a change in practices. The pair agree that communicating the practical steps to net zero is a major challenge, but one that shouldn’t be held back by finding a uniform means of measuring the carbon footprint of any one particular farm system. It’s anticipated that sharing progress of the journey to net zero, even where a diversity of carbon footprinting tools are employed, will encourage others to follow. Both Lyndsay and Rob agree that the farming community shouldn’t wait for the perfect tools for measuring net zero progress; far better to choose a system and make positive progress, even if the comparisons cannot yet be accurately compared and contrasted to farms using other measurement criteria.
Nov 27, 2020
Brands with purpose
The Agri Food Comms-Cast(AFCC) unpicks the marketing and communications stories behind the issues facing the food and farming sector. In this episode, Catherine Linch delves into two brands that hinge their marketing on their strong sense of purpose. First up is Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE, otherwise known as ‘The Black Farmer’. He explains the story behind his brand name and gluten-free sausages becoming such a success over the last 15 years. From understanding the differences between left and right brain thinking, to above and below the line marketing, Wilfred tells us the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ that really delivers for customers. Wilfred has also kindly offered our podcast listeners 10% off all products on The Black Farmer website – just add the voucher code ‘WILFRED57’ at the checkout. Next up is Mia Hartwell, sustainability manager at Jordans Cereals, a brand which dates back to 1855. She tells Catherine how important it is for their business to protect and give back to nature. Working with like-minded charities, The Wildlife Trusts,Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF)and The Prince’s Countryside Fund, they have formed the ‘Jordans Farm Partnership’. Mia explains how they work with 30 farmers who grow high-quality cereal crops and leave 10% of their land to nature. This is incorporated in all Jordans’ communications campaigns, adding credibility to their sustainable brand and connecting with eco-conscious consumers.
Nov 13, 2020
In conversation with Veg Power
The _Agri Food Comms-Cast_ (AFCC) unpicks the marketing and communications stories behind the issues facing the food and farming sector. In this episode, we explore a campaign that’s promoting one of the most ambitious and important initiatives we’ve covered to date on this podcast, and how it’s been so successful in getting children to eat their vegetables. Our host, Catherine Linch, speaks to Dan Parker, the founder of the _Veg Power_ initiative, about how his celebrity-endorsed campaign has transitioned from a charitable, low-key concept to a huge commercial success and why it’s changing the attitudes of the next generation in how they view and consume vegetables. We also welcome back Jack Ward from the _British Growers Association_, who featured on our very first AFCC episode. He explains what enticed him to get involved with the Veg Power initiative in its early stages, how it’s evolved over the last two years and why it’s been so effective in helping to change the face of British horticulture in the most positive way.
Oct 30, 2020
Communications challenges in rural crime and food waste
The 14th episode of the Agri Food Comms-Cast focuses on two topics in the food and farming supply chain that chime with the autumn season, where the temperatures drop and the nights draw in. First up is Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, who has the task of communicating why crime on farms should mean something to anyone who consumes food. Rebecca explains the challenges of communicating the contents of the annual Rural Crime Report to different media channels, including broadcast and the broadsheets, and the wider public year-on-year. Then just in time for the Halloween festivities, we have Tessa Tricks from the environmental charity, Hubbub, that’s behind the annual pumpkin rescue campaign #EatYourPumpkin. She explains how through a consumer survey, they found the best way to help people use leftover pumpkins and reduce food waste after Halloween was to provide tasty recipes, particularly from celebrity chefs. The charity also promotes pumpkin festivals to collect and eat delicious food from leftover pumpkins along with lobbying the government with their Greenprint; a series of policy asks to encourage a nationwide reduction in food waste across the supply chain.
Oct 16, 2020
In conversation with Meat Business Women
The Agri Food Comms-Cast (AFCC) delves into the current issues in the food and farming sectors, taking a marketing and communications viewpoint on the campaigns and initiatives that our guests that work in the industry are most passionate about. In episode 13, Catherine Linch and Hannah Lloyd explore gender representation in the meat industry while speaking with female networking group Meat Business Women founder, Laura Ryan. A new report launched this month by Meat Business Women, ‘Inspire, Network, Grow: Gender Representation in the Meat Sector 2020’, outlines how women are represented in the meat processing sector and what the enablers and barriers are to women who are working, or want to work, in the industry. The key findings indicate that 36% of people working in the meat industry are female, with 14% in senior roles and just 5% at chief executive level. Laura explains how and why this research was collected on a global scale. And with the findings communicated via a detailed report, virtual events, website and social media, they will serve as a platform for discussion and catalyst for change to create more opportunities for women in the meat processing sector.
Oct 2, 2020
The power of evidence to drive change
The Agri Food Comms-Cast (AFCC) bridges the food and farming sectors, taking a marketing and communications perspective and gleans insights from guests about the initiatives they're most passionate about. The power of evidence gathering in farming and rural communities is the theme of episode 12. Catherine Linch explores the role of research and intelligence on the audience you’re looking to reach out to, that can be a catalyst for knowledge exchange. Jim Williams, head of market research at Map of Ag, explains how application of social psychological theory and research into personality types has led to the farmer audience being segmented into five key 'types and traits': 1. Progressive 2. Defender 3. Optimiser 4. Adventurer 5. Operator From understanding the types and traits of farmers, it's easier to break down this audience and, therefore, present strategic business propositions and tailor marketing and communications messages that create an impact. Up next is Jane Craigie, director and co-founder of the Rural Youth Project, and project and communications officer, Alana Black. Since 2018, the Rural Youth Project has been building an international movement for positive change targeted at the under 30s who are rurally based. Previously, there has been little research into the young, rural demographic, which has made it difficult to help those in isolation develop leadership and enterprise skills and retain those skills in the countryside. Over the last two years, the team have been compiling a wide range of quantitative and qualitative research in the form of surveys, podcasts, blogs, case studies and ideas festivals. The recently launched Qualitative Report delves into the full scope of rural living and how it affects young people, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, to complement the 2018 Survey Report. They found that prior to COVID-19, 72% of young people were optimistic about their futures in rural areas but since the outbreak has begun, this has halved. Young, rural people also want better access to mental health services, enterprise opportunities and more affordable housing. Such insight is providing direction on the future of the Rural Youth Project to help facilitate young people to learn from each other, pair up with mentors and access jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Sep 18, 2020
Wildlife conservation in agribusiness
The Agri Food Comms-Cast (AFCC) delves into the current issues being faced in the agricultural industry and food supply chain, with a PR and marketing spin. Episode 11 explores wildlife conservation and its relationship with food production and land management. David Hooton, deer officer at the Forestry Commission, explains that although wild deer populations are at an all-time high, the market for venison has significantly dropped in the last 18 months. By heading up the new Venison Working Group and delivering the first Wild Venison Week later this winter, he aims to help equip the venison trade so landowners can continue to meet their business and conservation objectives, while encouraging a wider consumer audience to eat venison all-year-round. Then former editor of the Shooting Times & Country Magazine, Joe Dimbleby from the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) goes on to explain how his journalistic background has helped to secure editorial for the Trust in the mainstrea…
Sep 4, 2020
Our Agri Food Comms-Cast explores the issues in the food and farming supply chain, with a marketing and communications spin. Episode 10 focusses on export opportunities for British produce following the introduction of the Government’s ‘bounce back’ plan for food and agriculture. Ian Wright, chief executive at the Food and Drink Federation, explains how, with just one in eight food and drink businesses considering entering the export marketplace, more awareness of export is needed, along with help in removing the fear factor of entering new markets. He says communications tools such as webinars, online conferences and having export ‘champions’ – all part of the bounce back plan – are some of the best ways to educate and share knowledge of developing foreign trade. Next up is Adam Sopher, co-founder of gourmet popcorn producer Joe & Seph’s. He explains how since leaping into the export market without an initial plan in place, the business has gone from strength to st…
Aug 21, 2020
In conversation with Farmers Weekly
The Agri Food Comms-Cast, coined the ‘AFCC’, delves into the ‘story behind the story’ of PR and marketing campaigns surrounding the UK food and farming industry. In episode nine, we chat to Philip Case, news editor at Farmers Weekly to discuss their recent social media campaign to stimulate public support for farmers. The #feedthenation campaign has taken the industry by storm over the last few months as the pandemic focused all our minds on the importance of feeding our families well. Having more time to prepare meals from scratch meant we took the time to consider the origin of what we eat. The hashtag received engagement from across the supply chain and beyond, and demonstrated support from retailers, processors and government bodies, as well as farmers themselves. Being a traditional trade, B2B publication, we explore how Farmers Weekly has adapted to champion consumer messages, reaching a new audience, and backing the British food and farming supply chain.
Aug 7, 2020
Brand crisis comms and social strategies
The Agri Food Comms-Cast, coined the ‘AFCC’, delves into the ‘story behind the story’ of PR and marketing campaigns surrounding the UK food and farming industry. In episode eight, freelance writer and former managing editor at The Grocer, Julia Glotz provides insight into how the top consumer facing brands in the food sector handled their external communications in the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic. Then Karl Pendlebury, senior manager at the AHDB Beef and Lamb, describes how the strategy behind the #MakeItBeef and #MakeItLamb campaigns involving football stadiums, chefs and consumers came to fruition and how results from Twitter exceeded all expectations. And finally, NFU combinable crops board chair, Matt Culley, describes how with the help of UK farmers, this year’s video-based #YourHarvest social media campaign aims to show policy makers and consumers just what goes into producing our nation’s food after such a challenging year.
Jul 24, 2020
Connecting farmers with consumers
The Agri Food Comms-Cast, coined the ‘AFCC’, delves into the ‘story behind the story’ of PR and marketing campaigns surrounding the UK food and farming industry. In episode seven, agritourism guru Caroline Millar describes how streaming virtual farm tours via Go Rural Scotland social media has got farmers and the general public talking over lockdown. Tom Martin, better known as Farmer Tom, leads on to explain how the concept of 10 minute video call sessions from farmers direct to school children is a classic, easy to execute initiative with such a simple message it’s taken off big time. Then broadcast journalist, farmer’s daughter and Just Farmers founder, Anna Jones defends mainstream programmes BBC Countryfile and Farming Today, asserting why clear and simple messaging counts. And finally, Anna gives examples of how media training is vital in upskilling farmers in communications techniques and building confidence in speaking to journalists.
Jul 10, 2020
Farm safety, digital training and a ‘squeezed middle’
The Agri Food Comms-Cast delves into the ‘story behind the story’ of the biggest news reports and campaigns in the agricultural and food sectors. In this podcast episode, we learn about the impact of Farm Safety Week, how training in agronomy is being delivered digitally and a ‘squeezed middle’ in the food, drink and hospitality sector during COVID-19. The overarching theme of this year’s Farm Safety Week, taking place 20 to 24 July, is ‘take safety seriously’. With a different topic each day, Farm Safety Foundation manager, Stephanie Berkeley, explains the aim of the campaign is to spread awareness of poor safety records on UK farms and to help reduce the number of farming related accidents. Stephen Jacob, BASIS CEO, leads on to describe how training in agronomy that predominately took place in a classroom or in the field prior to COVID-19 has successfully moved into the digital realm. And finally, Paul Rooke, executive director at the British Coffee Association expl…
Jun 26, 2020
Food assurance and farming awards
The Agri Food Comms-Cast delves into the ‘story behind the story’ of the biggest news reports and campaigns in the agricultural and food sectors. In this episode, we explore what's behind the Red Tractor logo facelift, before moving on to hearing about the challenges and opportunities for the British Farming Awards as they embark on a digital format for the ceremony this year. We feature Red Tractor's head of communications, Rebecca Miller; John Kirkpatrick, Tesco's agriculture manager for poultry and eggs; and Ben Briggs, the editor of Farmers Guardian.
Jun 12, 2020
From farm to phone and rural innovation
The Agri Food Comms-Cast delves into the ‘story behind the story’ of the biggest news reports and campaigns in the agricultural and food sectors. With a rural spin, this podcast episode looks at how businesses and communities in the countryside have adapted to life in lockdown. LEAF chief executive, Caroline Drummond explains how Open Farm Sunday went virtual this year and the opportunities and challenges this brought to her, her marketing team and the farmers involved in making the event a success. Strategic marketing consultant and founder of the Rural Business Awards and Rural Business Group, Anna Price, then explores how SMEs in the countryside have responded to the pandemic and the pros and cons for enterprising rurally based businesses, including community support and the ongoing connectivity challenge. And finally, Andrew Price, head of rural research at Knight Frank, gives an overview of how COVID-19 has impacted rural estates, while providing exclusive insight into a n…
May 29, 2020
From crisis to creative solutions in retail, processing and in delivering National BBQ Week
The story behind the story A bite-size take and insight into the communications surrounding the biggest news stories in the agricultural and food sectors. From a crisis reaction, to the sparking of creative new marketing tactics; in this week’s episode, we hear from Sophie Throup, on how Morrisons has adapted its offer since the start of lockdown. We then go on to hear from Claire Donoghue, of food solutions provider OSI, who talks about how their beef processing operation took up the challenge of diverting supplies from food service to retail and how, despite the current pressure, they remain focused on the pre-Covid industry issue of climate change and how they won’t be ducking the issue, despite an apparent recent reprieve. Finally, with the UK celebrating National Barbecue Week, we caught up with the founder, Brian George, to find out how the campaign has been running in the face of current restrictions – and how you can get involved!
May 15, 2020
Responses to the current dairy retail crisis
The story behind the story A bite-size take and insight into the communications surrounding the biggest news stories in the agricultural and food sectors. Christine Watts, AHDB chief communications officer, talks about the promotional campaign that’s encouraging consumers to enjoy their frothy coffees and other virtual 'milk moments' in a bid to boost retail milk sales following the sudden closure of the food service industry that’s hit the dairy industry hard. Following on from Christine, we hear from Caroline Mason, Co-op head of agriculture, who talks about the retailer to farmer relationship and how stakeholder investment over the course of nearly a decade has culminated in their dairy farmer group creating a heartfelt thank you video message – now that’s great PR!
May 1, 2020
Labour shortages and a cheese crisis
The story behind the story A bite-size take and insight into the communications surrounding two of the biggest news stories in the agricultural and food sectors at the moment. Ali Capper, a Worcestershire grower and chair of the NFU Horticulture & Potatoes board, as well as British Apples and Pears, and Jack Ward, CEO of the British Growers Association, talk all about the 'Pick for Britain' campaign and the massive communications challenge it presents. While Robin Skailes from the Cropwell Bishop Creamery and Tracey Colley from the Academy of Cheese explain all about the national cheese crisis and how the British cheese industry has come together to reach out to the public and promote its produce during this difficult time.