“Every time you open your doors and go outside your comfort zone, the opportunities are endless,” said Brad Scott, a fourth-generation dairy farmer whose operation appeared on a 2013 episode of the reality television show “Undercover Boss.” Scott spoke at the 2015 Animal Agriculture Alliance Stakeholders Summit in Kansas City, Mo.
During his remarks, Scott discussed the challenges and benefits of allowing a reality television crew to have full access to his family’s 1,000-cow dairy farm to film the episode, which featured the CEO of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. Scott’s farm, Scott Brothers Dairy, supplies milk to Menchie’s. The CEO was able to witness the delivery of a calf during his visit, and said that his time on Scott’s farm was the most exciting part of his undercover excursion.
“After this experience, our farm and the Menchie’s marketing team have a much better connection and understanding,” Scott said. “When they have questions about animal handling, we’re the first people they call.”
Other speakers repeated Scott’s call for increased transparency within animal agriculture, with Gary Cooper, COO of Cooper Farms, Inc., commenting, “At Cooper Farms, we are opening up our barn doors more and more every day. It’s certainly a risk, but I feel that if you aren’t at least a little uncomfortable, you aren’t being truly transparent.
Transparency is a crucial tool to building consumer trust, making a logical transition into the Summit’s final sessions, which focused on crisis and reputation management.
Helen Wojcinski, science and sustainability manager at Hybrid Turkeys, shared her advice for attendees in times of crisis based on her experience with an undercover video released by an animal rights activist group.
“You have to have a strong record of animal care,” Wojcinski said. “Be open and public about your commitment to animal care every day, and make it a part of the culture among supervisors and employees.”
Wojcinski also shared tips for interacting with the media, including being proactive by being the first to break a story even if its negative.
“By facing the situation head-on and releasing our own press release first, we were able to achieve a more balanced story in the media,” she said.
The final Summit speaker was Kimberly Keller, senior director of reputation management at Charleston|Orwig. Keller shared that food brands are struggling in developing positive reputations, with fewer and fewer food-related brands faring well in studies measuring consumer trust.
“Reputation translates to financial success,” Keller said. “Your reputation has an impact on your business and your bottom line.”
Source: Animal Agriculture Alliance