We often encourage producers to further educate themselves to improve their operations, their production and, ultimately, their bottom line. Producer workshops at individual state pork conventions or sessions offered by feed companies, financial institutions or veterinary centers offer unlimited opportunities for professional betterment.
Journalists also face myriad opportunities to hone our skills to provide a better product for you, our readers. I had one such opportunity on Thursday at the Minnesota Magazine & Publishing Association’s annual summit in Minneapolis. As I listened to Andrew Eklund of Cicerón, it struck me how the magazine business in some ways parallels the swine industry. Eklund spoke of how magazines are seen as trusted guides to our consumers, or readers, and that trust needs to be maintained.
To maintain the trust of our consumers, which are our advertisers and readers, we need to maintain a relationship. How we interact with our consumers determines how far that trust goes. We need to respond to our customers’ queries, concerns and whims.
The same goes for pork producers, and responding to consumers’ demands seems to have become a larger part of a pork producer’s job. External pressures from consumers on how you do your job, how you raise the product that they shop for and consume have reached a fevered pitch and those concerns won’t be slowing.
Social media campaigns have aided producers to open their barns to the outside, unlearned world. Having an open dialogue with consumers, even non-consumers can go a long way in building or maintaining the trust factor. Proving that producers are human, just trying to make a living brings the issue down to the lowest common denominator – that we are all cut from the same cloth.
A lot of corporate-speak nowadays centers around protecting “the brand,” regardless if you’re publishing magazine, making automobiles, pumping out cellular phones or even selling pork. Protecting your “brand” is important, not only for your specific product, but for the industry, regardless what you’re selling.
Some pork producers have developed their own labels for their finished product, while the majority of producers’ hogs end up in mainstream packing plants. Regardless what name is on the finished product of your farm’s hogs as they end up in consumers’ refrigerators and freezers, the common brand of “pork” is on all of it. If one consumer has a bad experience with pork, and that one consumer is social-media savvy, that can be the worst nightmare the entire industry could live through.
Take the job seriously to protect the brand of U.S. pork, and the consumer trust will follow.
Remember, we’re all in this together.