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March 2010 Archive for Livestock Today

RSS By: Sara Brown, Beef Today

The Livestock Today blog is your place to learn the latest production news for the livestock industry.

How to Respond Effectively

Mar 19, 2010

By Sara Brown

If I’ve learned anything working in media, it’s don’t get in the middle of a word fight. It’s better to not speak than to be so overwhelmed with your emotions that people stop listening to you. With the prevalence of media attacks on agriculture, producers are often hesitant to speak out against activists. So how do you say what you really want to say?

This past week, www.HumaneWatch.org, published a blog asking if Mary Kay was sponsoring a Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) event in Houston, Texas. After reading their post, going to the event Web site, and seeing their logo on the event page, I was undoubtedly upset. For almost seven years I’ve been independent Mary Kay consultant—but at that moment, sitting at the computer, I was a farmer. I was ready to give up the products I use and the income I receive from my business because of their support of HSUS.

So what did I do? I didn’t immediately go to my neighbor to bash the company, or call their customer service number irate because of what I had seen and heard. Instead, I waited until the anger passed, the emotions calmed and I wrote out my concerns. I read it once, twice, and five times more to make sure it was factual, clear and polite. I emailed the letter to the Mary Kay customer service department.

Then, I went to Facebook, where already concerns of the issue had surfaced, including many farmers and ranchers who use and/or sell the products. I added my concerns to the list and waited for a response from the company. An hour or two later, I received an e-mail response from Mary Kay, Inc., with the official statement that the company had no connection to the event, but that the site was improperly using the company’s Web site logo for a personal contribution by an independent beauty consultant.

Here are few lessons I learned through this process:

  1. Take time to put aside your emotions and get to the real message you want to convey.
  2. Take a moment and write out what you want to say. Organize your thoughts and put your points in order of importance. Be short—no one wants to read five pages of grievances.
  3. Be polite—it’s more effective.
  4. Use your consumer power and personal network to prove your sincerity. Explain why you will no longer purchase the product or service, and that you will encourage others to do the same.
  5. If the result of your actions is positive (company responds to your concerns), say thank you. It’s professional courtesy.

After the corporate response from Mary Kay, I went back to Facebook, and wrote a thank you on their wall for supporting agriculture and not the HSUS event. It wasn’t long before HSUS proponents commented on my post with glaring inaccuracies about agriculture and the HSUS organization. But it wasn’t only my post—the same few people commented on every thank you post there was trying to “buy back” any support of HSUS they could. Then, they became the “radicals.”

Before your blood pressure influences you to hit the reply button, in any similar situation, go through the list above again. Respond carefully to direct attacks—your credibility and your message are on the line.

This column is part of the Beef Today Cattle Drive e-newsletter, which is delivered to subscribers biweekly and includes beef industry analysis, market information as well as the latest beef headline news. Click here to subscribe.


Protein Power

Mar 08, 2010

By Sara Brown

“The power of protein in the land of lean beef” may just be one of my favorite product slogans right now. There is so much in the livestock industry to be proud of, including nutritious meat products for consumers worldwide. National Nutrition Month, going on through March, however, is the crunch time to protect our industry as other groups work to give meat a bad rap.

Most people would trust an organization named the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). You would think the organization represented actual doctors and provide a medically sound viewpoint. It doesn’t. In fact, at the bottom of their Web site, it says “This Web site does not provide medical or legal advice.”

PCRM is one of the many anti-meat groups after your children, your schools and your meat. PCRM advocates vegetarian and vegan entrees for the school lunch program, as well as calling an end to USDA purchases of beef, pork, chicken, butter, cheese.

Their Web site is void of any benefits of meat (including fish) or dairy consumption, which is a scary thought when many people are looking for ways to make healthier choices for their children and families.

Agriculture needs to be on the front line of nutrition. Unfortunately misinformation is coming from many sides. What can we do? We can educate our families, our friends and our communities. We can use the facts to dispel the emotional tactics by people and groups who are undermining our health and our industry.

If you raise beef, I recommend you spend 15 minutes on the www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com Web site and learn about the vitamins, minerals and protein in your product. Pork producers, check out www.theotherwhitemeat.com. Poultry and egg producers, www.poultryegg.org; sheep producers, www.americanlamb.com; and dairy producers, www.nationaldairycouncil.org.

Share the information you find with your community. And support factual, unbiased research by going to www.mypyramid.gov.

This column is part of the Beef Today Cattle Drive e-newsletter, which is delivered to subscribers biweekly and includes beef industry analysis, market information as well as the latest beef headline news. Click here to subscribe.


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