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Once Upon a Time Down on the Farm…

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Executive Summary

Dairy farmers are being encouraged to tell their story by leaders in the New Zealand dairy industry. This study surveyed opinions from fifteen New Zealand dairy industry and media leaders and discovered a need to share good stories with other farmers to improve uptake of on farm practice, with the general public to improve the social licence to operate and with international markets to create value for dairy products. The science as to why storytelling as a communication tool is so effective in these circumstances points towards creating an emotional connection with the target audience that fuels a hormone induced bond and aids in persuading the audience towards a specific idea or outcome.
Building a story to create that connection is an art. International experts talk of the story structure, plot, characters, conflict and resolution but the surveyed leaders indicate sharing small snapshots of the farmers’ story is adequate in building the larger New Zealand farming story. Leaders and experts agree storytelling requires the careful consideration of who the target audience is, the formation of a clear, simple message, selective use of emotive language and a creative form of delivery to have the desired effect. In the context of farmers telling their story, it is suggested that farmers use online multimedia through social networks to tell the story that they care about their farm, their families, their animals and their environment.