We’re telling our story and people are listening

As a group, we probably haven’t done a great job of telling the story of agriculture in our local communities and to a greater extent, to our fellow Hoosiers. We’re farmers after all, not storytellers. Our time is better spent in the field.

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But telling our story is important, so important in fact that we have included it as one of the key priorities of our strategic plan. And I’m proud to say we have done a much better job in recent weeks of sharing who we are and what we do.

Recently the marketing team has added Molly Zentz as a PR manager for our brand. Molly’s primary responsibility is to share our news with the community. And since Molly has been on board, we’ve shared a lot.

First, for example was the hay donation program last March that was organized by John Canary, Phil Ramsey and other INFB members to provide much-needed hay to farmers and ranchers affected by the devastating wildfires in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. It was a great volunteer effort, typical of the spirit in all farmers. And it was worth sharing. We told the story of compassion and goodwill to the state’s media, and we received quite a bit of coverage – 10 stories in all in Marion, Pulaski, Johnson, Lawrence, Henry, Jasper, Huntington and Spencer counties. John Canary and Phil and Cindy Ramsey soon became familiar faces to the Indiana media.

With April came the end of the legislative session and our chance to talk about the role Farm Bureau played in the passage of the road funding bill and a state budget that recognizes the importance of agriculture. Our public policy team conducted 10 separate interviews with ag media and political reporters across the state, more media interest than we’ve seen after a legislative session in a long, long time.

And there couldn’t have been a bigger story for the month of May than the weather and the havoc it wreaked. Heavy rains and cold temperatures throughout the month spelled disaster for our planting season. Many of us couldn’t get out into the fields for weeks. Just as we thought things started to look better, the rains came again to wash away our efforts.

The weather was a huge story and we wanted to make sure other Hoosiers knew the seriousness of the issue – from the cold temperatures in the northern part of the state to the flooding in the south. We reached out to several reporters throughout Indiana and their interest was great. We had a total of 23 stories – including, print, radio and television where reporters interviewed INFB members from all parts of the state who grew corn and soybeans and gave them a chance to tell the story of agriculture and its vulnerability to Mother Nature.

The folks in our marketing department give what they call an “ad value” to all the media coverage we receive. What that means is that if we would have purchased advertising for all of those media placements I just mentioned, it would have cost Farm Bureau nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Instead, all it cost us was some effort from Molly.

I expect we will have many more stories to tell as the year progresses and many opportunities to increase the awareness of agriculture throughout the state. So stay tuned.