The voice of agriculture . Die stem van landbou . Izwe lezokulima

The importance of a strategic public relations campaign for agriculture

For the past three years, we have been strategically working on an inclusive and carefully constructed public relations campaign to ensure our message in the public space is accurate, consistent and in line with Kwanalu’s mandate.

We often get asked questions about the PR campaign and so to this end please see below some of the frequently asked questions and our responses:

Why is a targeted PR campaign so important?

Simply put it is because Kwanalu is competing for a share of a voice in a current media environment that is cluttered, mercurial, negative and non-stop.

It is easy for an organisation’s voice to get lost, be misinterpreted and actually achieve the exact opposite of its objectives and do damage, not only Kwanalu, but also to farmers and agriculture as a whole. The prevalence of fake news is also a further reason for Kwanalu to have and not to deviate from a sound strategic communications strategy.

What is Kwanalu’s current media strategy?

As an organisation Kwanalu needs to be constantly, consistently and with a strategic focus re-telling and reiterating what the organisation stands for and what it does for its members in order in ensure the long-term objectives of creating a distinctive and enduring reputation for farmers in this province. Kwanalu’s media strategy focuses on showcasing the good work farmers are doing with regards to land reform, transformation and upliftment and the role farmers play in the economy of South Africa.

How does the prevalence of fake news affect Kwanalu’s PR strategy?

Due to the current political, cluttered and negative media environment we find ourselves in and how agriculture and farmers are being used as a “vote-generating” tool, it is at times like these that we have to be careful not to be “swayed” from our strategic objectives to becoming a re-active voice to others’ objectives.

“Brand safety” is the reason why a comprehensive communications strategy for an organisation like Kwanalu is so important, as it encapsulates how a public relations strategy protects a brand’s messaging to ensure that the message is accurate and not lost in translation.

How has social media affected Kwanalu’s PR strategy?

The power of digital and social media has changed the traditional media landscape drastically as newspapers, radio and television now have to compete with online platforms where news (whether fake or not) is instantaneous. This means, that in order for mainstream media to remain relevant and still sell newspapers and keep their advertisers happy with high click rates (through to their websites where they sell advertising), they have to ensure they are first to break with news, making some reporters merciless in their quest for information, and the reporting of incidents not always accurate.

How does the PR campaign protect Kwanalu online?

Inaccurate reporting and fake news means slanderous, inaccurate and damaging media articles and reports about agriculture in the media and online which cause a lot of anxiety and worry for our members, some who would like to see us responding to these reports. This is where Kwanalu’s strategy and PR objectives are crucial – and where responding would simply mean adding “fuel to the fire” and fuelling other organisations and political parties’ agendas by keeping this negative news alive for longer. Kwanalu’s credible and sound reputation as a leader in agriculture cannot afford to be viewed as impulsive, aggressive or reactive to rhetoric and emotional messaging.

Kwanalu’s PR strategy going forward into 2019?

Every year, taking into account the current political, social and economic environment of the time, the PR campaign is revised in order to ensure Kwanalu is perceived as sound, credible and informed leaders of organised agriculture in the province and looks to ensure the campaign continues to portray and communicate the good work farmers do and to counter negative rhetoric in the media.