Using comms to stem fear of the unknown

With the UK having officially left the European Union (EU) and the transition period set to end on 1st January 2021, unsurprisingly, the UK food and agriculture sectors have been looking into what the export market is set to look like in coming years, with some taking a fearful stance.

The total value of exported food and drink in 2019 rose to £23.6 billion, with many livestock and arable producers relying on these valued supply chains to bolster their business. But when there is an undercurrent of what some call fear, some call trepidation, and some call misunderstanding, how can government bodies allay these concerns and boost this burgeoning market.

The Government’s ‘Bounce Back’ scheme has been doing exactly this, backing a raft of communications resources designed to communicate with producers and processors across all levels and sizes of the export supply chain, to raise awareness of its ease and success.

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In episode 10 of the Agri-Food Comms Cast (AFCC)  Catherine Linch spoke to the chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, Ian Wright, about the company's support for the initiative, having been heavily involved in the sector council responsible for setting the scheme up.

In what appears akin to an integrated communications plan, the Bounce Back initiative comprises a series of webinars, presentations, discussion groups, ‘export champion’ ambassadors and educational materials. This platform aims to bring like-minded businesses of different shapes and sizes together, each sharing their experiences and helping those new to the export market, find their feet.

Why is an integrated approach so successful?

When looking to support a sector in changing behaviours and adopting new working practices, it’s good to see the government recognising that this can’t be done with one ‘silver bullet’. Instead, there is recognition of knowledge transfer resources and peer-to-peer influence.

This approach has been championed by the ‘Bounce Back’ initiative comms plan, producing a unified collection of tools which food and agriculture business owners can tap into to make their journey to the export market simpler.

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How can you get the most out of an integrated approach?

It’s simple really. Just imagine how you receive and take in information, and go from there:

  1. Define your audience – do your research to ensure the channels you plan to use will reach the right people and achieve the greatest results
  2. Collate the best content – provide your readers with the best unique content, positioning yourself as the thought-leader
  3. Keep your messaging clear – have one underlying message that consumers can always come back to
  4. Choose the correct channels – with so many channels to choose from, ensure you’re reaching the correct audience with the right detail
  5. Measure your successes and failures – what is success without the proof? Ensure you measure your successes and failures, amending your campaign to mirror effective strategies