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Opening Gates

RSS By: AgWeb Editors, AgWeb.com

A seasoned ag communications professional, Rick Purnell is passionate about the positive impact farms and agribusiness have in rural and urban communities.

Enhance Your Operation’s Identity

Jan 28, 2011

Whether your operation has been a part of your community for decades or a few months, it has an identity attached to it. It may be your name, a family name, a company name or even that of a previous owner. 

That identity may be highly regarded, neutral, negative or worse, unknown. It’s important that residents know and understand the value your operation brings to the community. The next time zoning laws come up for review, will your community rally behind your business? What about the next time a livestock business comes under attack? And, even when natural or man-made disasters strike, will your community volunteer to help you? Survey after survey tells us that the more residents know about a business and its contributions to the community, the more likely they are to rally for it during tough times.
 
How you answer these questions is directly related to how your community views your operation and how it understands the identity of your business.
 
Many folks already work to enhance their reputations, while bettering the community. This may include serving on volunteer fire departments, school boards, hospital boards, rural water boards and countless other activities. None goes unnoticed.
 
There are simple, low-cost/no-cost methods of putting a shine on your operation’s reputation, in addition to your own. Over time, these efforts will pay off with stronger community support of your business. A few examples include:
 
  • Use your farm or ranch name instead of your own if you buy a premium at the fair or livestock show.
  • Install a sign near the road that proudly displays your farm name and states what you do. Seedstock operators are masters at this.
  • If you have a website, use photos and videos to draw people in to learn more.
  • If you blog, keep telling your story.
  • If you don’t blog, consider starting.
  • If you don’t have a website, consider a way to work one into your business plan.
  • Host school groups for tours.
  • Offer to speak to school classes about what you do.
  • Invite a local reporter to spend a morning, afternoon or day with you. Let him or her tell your story.
  • Organize a group of farmers and livestock owners. Create a short presentation about the benefits you collectively bring to the community. Present it to area civic, business, church and school groups.
  • Present this same group to area media as “go to” experts to use when stories about agriculture come up in the news.
 
There are countless ways to build community support for your operation. The important thing is to plan for what you can do now and in the long-term. Tackling just one or two of these items may help you look at the value of your operation in a whole new light. You’ll likely get invaluable support from the deal, too.
 
For other tips, ideas or to share your own, comment here or email me here. Feedback is appreciated.
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