There are four key elements to ‘agvocating’:
- Promoting Canada’s agriculture industry, the care it takes to produce the nation’s food, and its important role in the Canadian economy.
- Influencing how people think about the industry, how they find their information and the type of information they find.
- Responding to doubts, questions, and myths.
- Repeating all of the above on a daily basis.
With no internal corporate public relations machine, each and every one of Canada’s farmers acts as a PR machine to varying degrees.
To promote, influence, and respond we need to understand important underlying factors such as how people’s brains work and why and how they respond to and act on (or don’t) certain information or messages.
How can we use that information to make the cycle of promote, influence, respond, repeat efficient and effective?
Promote – In another post we explored how to resonate rather than promote. While on the surface they appear to be the same, figuring out how to make the information you’re presenting resonate (connect on a deep and/or personal level) with your audience ensures your messages go further and deeper.
Influence – Establishing yourself as a reputable source for correct information is the key to building trust and influence. If you’re not comfortable in that role, find Connectors, Mavens and Salesmen – those charismatic people who seem to easily gain trust and credibility and who have the ability to translate the jargoned or scientifically complex messages of the ag industry into concepts everyone can understand.
Annett Grant, CEO of Executive Speaking, Inc., further suggests that by shifting your focus from educating to influencing you can build the credibility your issue or message needs. Many of us make the mistake of believing that any information we present is critically important and that others will see its inherent value and quality. While your information may very well be important, working from an education angle brings people in on the ground level where they feel part of the process, rather than talking to them airily from the balcony like royalty. Also remember that unless your information is framed in such a way as to make it ‘sticky’, you’re more likely to lose your audience’s attention before you’ve even got it.
Respond – Beware the Curse of Knowledge: Once we know something, it’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t – or to imagine that someone else doesn’t. Responding to questions or engaging in conversations about agriculture require active listening and, yes, even asking questions of the questioner to ensure you really understand what they want they know. Also consider how you deliver your messages: tinkering with words or how your information is structured and presented can make a big difference in impact.
Repeat – Lasting and undivided attention takes time and effort and builds up in stages. Similar to how you manage your farm, it’s the passion, hard work, and attention to details that will encourage people to engage with you and inspire them to seek you out when they have questions. Bart Egnal’s third principle of leading through language is to move from information to inspiration; leadership is not based on transferring information, but on transforming people.