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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The meaning of a word.

Are we really communicating effectively?

So, I, you, NCBA, breed associations, the dairy industry, etc., have all decided that we need to communicate with the consumer. Simple enough right? I keep on saying it's about telling your story.

But what if the listeners don't understand the language? Are we effectively getting our message across, probably not. This was first brought to my attention last spring. We had hired a local kid to help us with some video editing. Absolutely no agriculture experience, but a whiz on a computer. I am pretty sure he thought we were crazy that we spent that much time filming cows.

One day he we were talking about the things that he was learning from listening to all those interviews with cattlemen, that's when he said, "Everyone sure says producer or cattle producer lots," and he's right, and more importantly he didn't really know what producer meant. I say it all the time, but what does producer mean to a consumer - not much.

Kevin Murphy, makes some great points in his article, Losing the War of Words. He discusses how we have change the language from farmers and farming to producers and industry. (He gives some background info on how we even started using these terms in his article.)

This resonated with me:

"...the farmer’s use of “producer” restricts the flow of positive images and intimates that the value of a farmer runs only as deep as what he’s capable of producing. “Industry” conjures up images of big corporations, the cold steel exterior of a building, a nameless, faceless, ruthless blob with designs to take over the planet!"
and
"Traveling around the United States, I find one overall consensus: We need to put a face back on agriculture. Nothing is more faceless than the term "industry."


Murphy, is the creator of the TruthinFood website. I am a fan of his articles, and was very impressed with his first article Thou Shall Not Kill (Animals?)



3 comments:

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