Kellogg has had to adapt during the Pandemic, to a hybrid model, working both online with tools like Zoom, and in-person when it is safe to do so.
One positive thing about video calls, and for some one might be a stretch, is being able to sit on the side-lines occasionally, with mute on and video off. You get all the benefits of the call, without needing to worry about asking clever questions.
So, muted and invisible we joined Scholars on Phase Two of the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme, to listen to Sam Halstead of Latitude Strategy and Communication. Sam works in Public Relations, focussing on the primary production sector.
Phase Two is important for Kellogg Scholars. It gives an economic, political, and environmental context. It zeroes in on how to engage and influence decision making at a local, regional, industry and central government level. And engaging means communicating effectively. Enter Sam.
The most scrutiny in a generation for the primary sector.
Sam began his presentation with a slide headed ‘The most scrutiny and pressure in a generation.’ Discussion moved easily from one example substantiating this, after another.
The next slide, ‘It’s not all bad,’ presented positive sector perception statistics, based on recent polls from UMR Market Research. The pendulum has been moving in the other direction through Covid – with a public realising New Zealand now has big bills to pay and that the primary sector might be the one to help. The numbers make interesting reading:
- New Zealanders have a positive view of the primary sector.
- New Zealanders remain strongly positive about horticulture (67% positive, 29% neutral, 4% negative).
- Sheep and beef farming (58% positive, 29% neutral, 13% negative).
- And dairy farming (55% positive, 29% neutral, 16% negative).
Changing primary sector narratives with human connection.
While sentiment is on the up, the big challenges remain. Challenges that continue to impact the way the public views the primary sector. Sam took scholars through how public relations is utilised to help address some of these.
‘Changing the narrative,’ Sam explained, is about human connection and building trust over time – to change the narrative over time. Briefly, that might mean:
- Avoiding the echo chamber – telling our stories outside of the sector.
- Enlisting champions, or advocates.
- Collaborating – avoiding confrontation.
- Better leverage of the sector’s points of difference.
- Owning issues and improving performance – sharing those improvements.
- Building high quality relationships.
- Most importantly – strive for human connection.
These sessions, delivered both online and in-person, help scholars build a critical awareness mindset, build confidence, and empower scholars to create change – public relations is just one tool in the toolbox that can help.