Michele Payn-Knoper: Invest 15 Minutes a Day in Telling Ag's StoryFri, 28 Feb 2014 06:35:06 CST
One theme that those in agriculture constantly hear nowadays is that they have to work harder and smarter to get their message out to the consumer. Michele Payn-Knoper is a farmer from Indiana who has made it her business to help her fellow farmers do just that. While Farm Director Ron Hays was at the Bayer Crop Science Ag Issues Forum earlier this week, he caught up with Michele and got an update on her efforts to spread ag advocacy across the country.
“What I advise people to do is to decide what you’re really passionate about, what you feel ready to take on and have a conversation about. Because the reality is that if you are going to enter into the forum and talk about biotechnology, there are a lot of very emotionally-driven sensationalized people out there that have been fed a lot of misinformation. So, as a result, you’re going to get burned. And I don’t discourage people from talking about issues like biotechnology, but just know what kind of waters you’re wading into, if you will, because there certainly are some sharks.”
What she really encourages, Payn-Knoper says, is for those in agriculture to be proactive and tell their own stories about their lives and their experiences on their farms. She says farmers and ag producers don’t have to wait until the next wave of disinformation hits the internet before communicating, but that they should be getting their story out there all the time. She recommends to her listeners and readers that they invest just 15 minutes a day telling agriculture’s story.
And, she says, that communication doesn’t have to be undertaken online in the social media.
“Certainly social media is a component of that whether you’re on Facebook, whether you create a Youtube video or you’re putting pictures up on Instagram. Social media is an important channel, but it is not the only one. I also encourage people to have conversations in their church parking lots, to go down to the local pub and hang out and just talk about what they do.
“The reality that a lot of folks that are out working every day on a farm don’t understand is that 98.5 percent of our population is not doing what you do. We’re in minority. We’re a novelty. We’re weird, if you will.
“And so if you’re out there investing 15 minutes proactively, you’re humanizing the farmer. And I would emphasize that humanization. What I think happens is we change the reference point. So, rather than someone’s first reference point on agriculture being a nasty video, or a terrible picture from the activists, maybe they can think about Ron from Oklahoma or think about Michelle from Indiana… and they can think about the person as a human and they can relate to them.”
At the end of the day, she says, It all boils down to understanding and communicating authentically with other people.
ClIck on the LISTEN BAR below to hear Ron Hays's full interview with Michele Payn-Knoper.
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