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The Agri Food Comms-Cast is back for episode 5 of season 4! This month our host, Catherine Linch, welcomes managing director of Glebe Farm Foods, Rebecca Rayner. They are most famous in farming circles for taking a hardline stance against multinational Oatly who attempted to sue them over the name and branding of Glebe’s PureOaty oat milk. In this true ‘David and Goliath’ story, Rebecca offers the point of view of the family owned independent, which gained the support and trust of the consumer to not only win the case, but capitalise on the marketing opportunity to give immense leverage to the emerging brand. Rebecca delves into the farm’s gluten-free oat milk ‘farm to fork’ journey, with growing, milling, processing and marketing all handled directly by the company – a rare thing in today’s often extended supply chains
In this month’s episode of the Agri Food Comms-Cast, we’re delving into the audio channel of podcasting; two years on from launching the Agri-Food Comms Cast. Host Catherine Linch welcomes Johann Tasker, chief reporter at Farmers Weekly and co-host of the Farmers Weekly Podcast. Johann joins us to discuss how their podcast is structured and its range of focus, format, and frequency. Alongside them is marketing director at The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and sustainable marketer Gemma Butler who is also host of the ‘Can Marketing Save the Planet?’ podcast, who explains the role for podcasting within a wider content strategy. They also explore the techniques for captivating an audience and we even get an insight into some of their favourite podcasts. Definitely worth a listen for anyone considering producing their own podcast.
The Agri-Food Comms Cast was first broadcast on Earth Day 2022, and delves into the opportunity for businesses to engage more proactively with the environment. In episode three, season four of the podcast, our host, Catherine Linch, is joined by founder of Sustainability Impact Agency, betternotstop, Hannah Cox, who is also a B-Corp Ambassador and B Leader. They are joined in conversation with inspirational business woman Carmen O’Neal, founder of gin producers, 58 and Co, a Certified B Corporation. The B Corporation Movement is a certification open to ‘for profit’ companies to undergo a rigorous assessment to show they meet high social and environmental standards, along with transparency and accountability. Becoming a B-Corp is proven to have a positive impact on business and staff teams, as well as benefiting the environment and wider society. In the podcast, we ask why businesses choose this path, and how to make the transition authentically – and importantly, avoid ‘greenwashing’.  We also explore the communications opportunities for improving internal engagement and how brands can add value and improve customer perception and loyalty. As a team, Pinstone are excited to begin their B-Corp journey, and look forward to the proactive and positive impact the team can have on society and the climate. See attached below for more information. UK B-Corp Performance Research Report November 2020 UK B-Corps performance review
The Agri-Food Comms Cast delves into the value of ‘asking the audience’ and the approach behind the AHDB’s Shape the Future ballot. In episode two of season four of the podcast, our host Catherine Linch is joined by Roseanne Thomas, Director of Communications at AHDB. The Shape the Future ballot provides the opportunity for 100,000 farmers and growers in the UK to have their say and influence where funding is directed. While knowing your audience and using market research is a staple for the comms industry, It’s the first time in its history that the levy board has ever taken this approach. We ask if it’s a change that’s needed to AHDB’s activities; or is it more the case that they need to do a better job of reaching out to raise awareness and make what they do more accessible to those that fund them. We also challenge Roseanne on how the AHDB intends to roll out the findings from the ballot once the results are in. The Shape the Future ballot intends to help AHDB glean insight into the needs of farmers and growers and aid funding decisions going forward.
The Agri-Food Comms Cast is back with a bang! In the first episode of season four, Catherine Linch delves into the role of different communication platforms, from the ultimate ‘long form’ book to the fast-paced world of social media. In particular, we explore how food and farming topics can present a challenging dialogue between town and country. Our first guest, journalist, broadcaster, founder of Just Farmers Media Portal and Nuffield Farming Scholar, Anna Jones, joins Catherine to introduce her brand-new book ‘Divide: The Relationship Between Town and Country’. With the current climate of polarised attitudes to food and farming, it’s easy to have an ‘us and them’ mentality, but Anna’s book aims to break this mindset by demonstrating how both communities have an opportunity to come together for good. This thought-provoking topic encourages us all to find common ground with each other so that we can reap the benefits, socially, politically, and culturally. We also hear from agri-media professional Emily Davies, who describes herself as a digital storyteller and provides valuable insight on the power and the pitfalls of social media for propelling stories and comms strategies to a wider audience. This fast-paced comms channel has proven beneficial for many brands seeking to build awareness, but the episode importantly touches on the issues social media users need to be aware of when consuming content on social platforms including biased algorithms and lack of accountability.
Episode seven considers the complex communication challenges that Henry Dimbleby was up against when piecing together his National Food Strategy. Catherine Linch is joined by two special guests for the final episode of season two of the Agri-Food Comms Cast to share their insight on this recently launched, comprehensive review. Communicating information that requires extensive cross-sector knowledge and context can prove problematic and often runs the risk of losing your audiences’ interest. So how did Mr Dimbleby ensure his report was a success? John Shropshire, chairman of G’s Marketing, was one of the farming representatives on the National Food Strategy advisory board. John joins our host to discuss the process behind the policy influencing report and the role that communication played in pulling together such a comprehensive document. Acknowledging that farming can often be on the receiving end of bad press, seasoned expert in agricultural communications, Amy Jackson of Oxtale, talks about the challenges of effectively conveying proposed recommendations to audiences that are more likely to be resistant to change. Amy praises the National Food Strategy for being wholly inclusive by sharing the responsibility for improving our food systems, diet, health and environment. She advises that setting incremental manageable objectives makes meeting targets much more realistic and achievable. There are some big upcoming changes to farming, but how do we successfully communicate this information? Amy suggests that conveying a consistent message is key and the National Food Strategy does just that, highlighting three key areas of focus: producing food more efficiently, increasing biodiversity and capturing carbon.
In light of the nation’s growing obesity crisis and subsequent pressures on the health service, episode six of season two of the Agri-Food Comms Cast, explores the potential influence that the food industry could initiate by actively marketing healthier food choices. This month, Catherine Linchis joined by food campaigner and crossbench member of the House of Lords, Baroness Rosie Boycott, and marketing guru and host of the US-based Gooder podcast, Diana Fryc. Our guests discuss the challenges faced by natural 'straight from the farm' produce when competing against highly processed, cheaply produced food and drink brands. The episode highlights food inequality, as well as calling for greater honesty and balance in how foods are promoted. This is especially true of many well-known brands that boast sizable marketing budgets to promote their frequently nutritionally poor products. It’s a challenging but important subject with many questions to answer. Do marketing professionals have a responsibility for introducing healthier lifestyle choices through their advertising campaigns? How can we analyse the influence that brands have on Western society’s eating habits and use this to affect change for the better? This episode explores a range of comms strategies that aim to tackle these difficult issues, while supporting public health policies and initiatives.
Episode five of season two of the Agri Food Comms-Cast welcomes Farmers Guardian and Morrisons to delve into the new, consumer facing #FarmingCAN, a year-long marketing campaign. Creating conversations and strengthening the messages about what British farming can, and does, do for the public beyond producing food for the nation is the bold ambition. Farmers Guardian’s marketing manager, Hannah Carrick, and head of news and business, Olivia Midgley, join Catherine Linchto discuss how they are structuring the campaign and leveraging the public’s appetite for farm stories that was demonstrated by their annual 24-hour social media blitz #Farm24. Seeking to reach out to farmers and policy makers, as well as the general public, each month is themed to promote what farming delivers to society, such as tackling climate change; the career opportunities; and the positive impact on our countryside. Celebrity endorsement is promising to dramatically extend the reach. The campaign is backed by some big names in the agri-food industry and countryside sector who are engaging their audiences and networks. This includes retailer Morrisons. To round up this month’s episode of the AFCC, Sophie Throup, head of agriculture at Morrisons, explains how they are getting involved and supporting the cementing relationships between consumers and farmers.
The pressures currently facing the red meat sector globally are undeniable, making a strong case for the advocates of British beef production to take on the communications challenge with gusto. We look at the issue as Great British Beef Week kicks off. In the latest episode of the Agri-Food Comms Cast, Catherine Linch explores how this traditional sector is challenging some public’ perceptions and setting the record straight about the merits of British beef. Jilly Greed, farmer and co-founder of Ladies in Beef, discusses this year’s Great British Beef Week (GBBW), a celebratory annual campaign created to promote and champion beef production – from farm to fork. In the last 11 years, it’s garnered tremendous support from across the industry. This year, GBBW is backed by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI), Agriculture, Horticulture and Development Board (AHDB) and Meat Promotion Wales. With sustainability as the theme for the 2021 event, Jilly believes connecting consumers with food provenance, the farmed countryside and how beef systems can support the environment is key to restoring the public’s affiliation with eating red meat. This episode also highlights the value of a breadth of communications channels, including popular films like Kiss the Ground and online events like We Eat Balanced and the RABI cookalong, that are spreading positive messages around sustainable farming within the agri-food sector and beyond.
Clubhouse or podcasts?

Clubhouse or podcasts?

2021-03-2642:56

In episode three of season two of the Agri-Food Comms Cast, Catherine Linch unpicks how businesses and communications professionals can best go about navigating through the ever-growing social media landscape. Clubhouse, the new and exclusive social media app based on audio chat, is rapidly gaining traction. And with podcasts also increasing in popularity, where is time best spent and invested as a brand? In conversation with Catherine Linch in this episode is: · Alison Teare, marketing director, mentor, trainer and podcaster at Simply Marketing · James Sopp, former BBC post-production specialist turned digital and social media marketer at Buzzin Digital · Russell Goldsmith, founder of Audere Communications and host of the csuite podcast The exclusivity of an invite-only membership to Clubhouse is enticing and the functionality to create and join clubs, such as The Agriculturalists, and rooms within them, provide the opportunity to make new connections. But, currently, Clubhouse is unavailable to Android users and there are no analytics to assess its engagement. Plus, the expectation to join live conversations can be limiting to those working in the agri-food sector that are time-poor. On the other hand, interviews for podcasts can be arranged ahead of time and episodes are available to listen to on-demand via a multitude of platforms and devices. Therefore, podcasts are more widely accessible and inclusive to all audiences. Whether the medium of choice is Clubhouse or podcasts, the direction of travel for brand communications appears to be audio for content generation in the post-Covid era.
The communications challenge of effectively reaching out and achieving meaningful engagement on the topic of mental health and wellbeing is the topic discussed in the latest episode of the Agri-Food Comms Cast. Catherine Linch explores how two projects targeting producers at the coalface of food production have gone about getting traction and a real buzz around this vitally important topic. Alicia Chivers and Suzy Deeley of leading farming sector charity RABI discuss their ambitious Big Farming Survey. Despite being told ‘it couldn’t be done’, they have rejected the naysayers and gone ahead with a mammoth research project looking to get a survey response from thousands of farmers. The goal is to provide evidence of the significant and complex challenges farmers and producers are facing today. Using trusted peer to peer networks across the breadth of the sector has proved a tremendously successful route to both outreach and engagement. We also talk to Sheena Horner and Emma Picton-Jones of #Run1000 that became a competitive and community spirited race between the British nations and a team representing ‘the rest of the world’. It achieved trending status on social media and provided a much needed mental health boost for those who got involved in January while also raising funds for five mental health charities.
The Agri Food Comms-Cast(AFCC) explores the PR and marketing themes across the breadth of the food and farming industry. In the first episode of our second season, Catherine Linch explores the role of social media influencers. No longer confined to A-list celebrities, influencer marketing has spread to the breadth of B2C and increasingly B2B sectors that recognise the power of an influential voice on social channels. Working in a market that’s fully embraced the influencer marketing model; rural and equestrian PR specialist, Rhea Freeman, says engaging with social media influencers can be a useful way for brands to promote themselves and get in front of their target audiences. But to ensure brand alignment and optimum return on investment, doing your research and setting expectations is key. Gaining significant traction in the last year on Twitter and Instagram, Herefordshire farmer, Ally Hunter Blair, says having a large following on social media has led to TV broadcast opportunities, such as Born Mucky: Life on the Farm, and aiding diversification ventures in his farm business. He says keeping it real, avoiding controversy and staying true to what interests him, has contributed to his success.
The Agri Food Comms-Cast (AFCC) unpicks the marketing and communications stories behind the issues facing the food and farming sector. Episode 17 explores the communications challenge behind the massive global issue of transitioning the livestock sector to net zero. Lynsday Chapman, CEO of the Centre for Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), introduced their new, independent industry report: Net Zero Carbon & UK Livestock. Providing a summary of known research and science on what’s understood about the topic of net zero in livestock systems, it delivers an unbiased baseline position for retailers, processors, governments and NGOs to talk from. Rob Hues, agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries manager at Waitrose joins the discussion having recently been part of the retailer’s roll out to their farms that laid down the gauntlet of reaching net zero on all its UK farms by 2035. He concurred that CIEL’s report is a practical framework that will be invaluable to the industry and support positive dialogue and a change in practices. The pair agree that communicating the practical steps to net zero is a major challenge, but one that shouldn’t be held back by finding a uniform means of measuring the carbon footprint of any one particular farm system. It’s anticipated that sharing progress of the journey to net zero, even where a diversity of carbon footprinting tools are employed,  will encourage others to follow. Both Lyndsay and Rob agree that the farming community shouldn’t wait for the perfect tools for measuring net zero progress; far better to choose a system and make positive progress, even if the comparisons cannot yet be accurately compared and contrasted to farms using other measurement criteria.
Brands with purpose

Brands with purpose

2020-11-2730:53

The Agri Food Comms-Cast(AFCC) unpicks the marketing and communications stories behind the issues facing the food and farming sector. In this episode, Catherine Linch delves into two brands that hinge their marketing on their strong sense of purpose. First up is Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE, otherwise known as ‘The Black Farmer’. He explains the story behind his brand name and gluten-free sausages becoming such a success over the last 15 years. From understanding the differences between left and right brain thinking, to above and below the line marketing, Wilfred tells us the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ that really delivers for customers. Wilfred has also kindly offered our podcast listeners 10% off all products on The Black Farmer website – just add the voucher code ‘WILFRED57’ at the checkout. Next up is Mia Hartwell, sustainability manager at Jordans Cereals, a brand which dates back to 1855. She tells Catherine how important it is for their business to protect and give back to nature. Working with like-minded charities, The Wildlife Trusts,Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF)and The Prince’s Countryside Fund, they have formed the ‘Jordans Farm Partnership’. Mia explains how they work with 30 farmers who grow high-quality cereal crops and leave 10% of their land to nature. This is incorporated in all Jordans’ communications campaigns, adding credibility to their sustainable brand and connecting with eco-conscious consumers.
The Agri Food Comms-Cast (AFCC) unpicks the marketing and communications stories behind the issues facing the food and farming sector. In this episode, we explore a campaign that’s promoting one of the most ambitious and important initiatives we’ve covered to date on this podcast, and how it’s been so successful in getting children to eat their vegetables. Our host, Catherine Linch, speaks to Dan Parker, the founder of the Veg Power initiative, about how his celebrity-endorsed campaign has transitioned from a charitable, low-key concept to a huge commercial success and why it’s changing the attitudes of the next generation in how they view and consume vegetables. We also welcome back Jack Ward from the British Growers Association, who featured on our very first AFCC episode. He explains what enticed him to get involved with the Veg Power initiative in its early stages, how it’s evolved over the last two years and why it’s been so effective in helping to change the face of British horticulture in the most positive way.
The 14th episode of the Agri Food Comms-Cast focuses on two topics in the food and farming supply chain that chime with the autumn season, where the temperatures drop and the nights draw in. First up is Rebecca Davidson, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual, who has the task of communicating why crime on farms should mean something to anyone who consumes food. Rebecca explains the challenges of communicating the contents of the annual Rural Crime Report to different media channels, including broadcast and the broadsheets, and the wider public year-on-year. Then just in time for the Halloween festivities, we have Tessa Tricks from the environmental charity, Hubbub, that’s behind the annual pumpkin rescue campaign #EatYourPumpkin. She explains how through a consumer survey, they found the best way to help people use leftover pumpkins and reduce food waste after Halloween was to provide tasty recipes, particularly from celebrity chefs. The charity also promotes pumpkin festivals to collect and eat delicious food from leftover pumpkins along with lobbying the government with their Greenprint; a series of policy asks to encourage a nationwide reduction in food waste across the supply chain.
The Agri Food Comms-Cast (AFCC) delves into the current issues in the food and farming sectors, taking a marketing and communications viewpoint on the campaigns and initiatives that our guests that work in the industry are most passionate about. In episode 13, Catherine Linch and Hannah Lloyd explore gender representation in the meat industry while speaking with female networking group Meat Business Women founder, Laura Ryan. A new report launched this month by Meat Business Women, ‘Inspire, Network, Grow: Gender Representation in the Meat Sector 2020’, outlines how women are represented in the meat processing sector and what the enablers and barriers are to women who are working, or want to work, in the industry. The key findings indicate that 36% of people working in the meat industry are female, with 14% in senior roles and just 5% at chief executive level. Laura explains how and why this research was collected on a global scale. And with the findings communicated via a detailed report, virtual events, website and social media, they will serve as a platform for discussion and catalyst for change to create more opportunities for women in the meat processing sector.
The Agri Food Comms-Cast (AFCC) delves into the current issues being faced in the agricultural industry and food supply chain, with a PR and marketing spin. Episode 11 explores wildlife conservation and its relationship with food production and land management. David Hooton, deer officer at the Forestry Commission, explains that although wild deer populations are at an all-time high, the market for venison has significantly dropped in the last 18 months. By heading up the new Venison Working Group and delivering the first Wild Venison Week later this winter, he aims to help equip the venison trade so landowners can continue to meet their business and conservation objectives, while encouraging a wider consumer audience to eat venison all-year-round. Then former editor of the Shooting Times & Country Magazine, Joe Dimbleby from the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) goes on to explain how his journalistic background has helped to secure editorial for the Trust in the mainstream press, as well as in country sports and farming media, to promote case studies of biodiversity success directly from farmers and landowners. And to conclude, he explains how the new Working for Wildlife web portal is hosting a ‘pledge’ that’s appealing to all conservationists – from RSPB to NFU– to sign-up to with a view to uniting on commitments to the British countryside. And with 1,000 signatures in its first week, it’s already gaining traction.
Championing exports

Championing exports

2020-09-0421:58

Our Agri Food Comms-Cast explores the issues in the food and farming supply chain, with a marketing and communications spin. Episode 10 focusses on export opportunities for British produce following the introduction of the Government’s ‘bounce back’ plan for food and agriculture. Ian Wright, chief executive at the Food and Drink Federation, explains how, with just one in eight food and drink businesses considering entering the export marketplace, more awareness of export is needed, along with help in removing the fear factor of entering new markets. He says communications tools such as webinars, online conferences and having export ‘champions’ – all part of the bounce back plan – are some of the best ways to educate and share knowledge of developing foreign trade. Next up is Adam Sopher, co-founder of gourmet popcorn producer Joe & Seph’s. He explains how since leaping into the export market without an initial plan in place, the business has gone from strength to strength and is now exporting to 19 different countries. They have even won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade this year. Adam offers advice to other companies looking to export food and drink products, such as the first steps to take when entering markets overseas and how to promote the best of British produce to the local buyers.
The Agri Food Comms-Cast, coined the ‘AFCC’, delves into the ‘story behind the story’ of PR and marketing campaigns surrounding the UK food and farming industry. In episode nine, we chat to Philip Case, news editor at Farmers Weekly to discuss their recent social media campaign to stimulate public support for farmers. The #feedthenation campaign has taken the industry by storm over the last few months as the pandemic focused all our minds on the importance of feeding our families well. Having more time to prepare meals from scratch meant we took the time to consider the origin of what we eat. The hashtag received engagement from across the supply chain and beyond, and demonstrated support from retailers, processors and government bodies, as well as farmers themselves. Being a traditional trade, B2B publication, we explore how Farmers Weekly has adapted to champion consumer messages, reaching a new audience, and backing the British food and farming supply chain.
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