You can respond in letters, social media, or face-to-face, and tell folks how YOU care for your animals and the environment. In most cases, your firsthand stories are extremely helpful and effective in getting the true story out to consumers because they generally trust producers and want firsthand information. But it’s not enough on its own.
That’s why your Beef Checkoff Program has put all the tools in place to safeguard you and the beef community from misinformation, misperceptions, crises, and from misinformed sources.
Improving Consumer Confidence and Demand for Beef
Your checkoff works daily to help consumers understand how you raise your beef and it uses research, planning and thoughtful execution plan to provide the truth that shuts down vast amounts of misinformation before it ever reaches the public. And if it can’t be headed off in advance, your checkoff is ready to respond with facts, science and the right spokespeople when misinformation does reach the public. You might hear it called “issues management, reputation management” or something of the like, and there’s a lot more strategy and engagement to it than most folks could imagine.
(Photo at right: Beef’s Digital Command Center utilizes social listening tools to constantly monitor the online conversation about beef.)
“We’re very thoughtful in the way that we manage issues for the industry. We monitor the conversation about beef in social and traditional media in real time, minute-by-minute, in beef’s Digital Command Center to see who is talking about beef and what they are saying,” says Daren Williams, director of the issues management program for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, contractor to the beef checkoff. “We use this information to quickly determine the appropriate action, whether that is to correct misinformation or to push out positive information about what the beef community is doing to address the issue. Other times it is to simply let it lie and move on to bigger things. It’s all about prioritizing precious checkoff resources to protect beef demand.”
Furthermore, the checkoff’s market-research efforts identify what issues are on consumers’ minds. When that is combined with listening to digital and social conversations and real-time tracking to understand what consumers are talking about, there is a coordinated effort to answer questions about beef issues or misinformation that is making a public appearance.
MBA Grads at Work
As mentioned earlier, you can play a big part in this effort to respond and act against industry assaults. The checkoff’s Masters of Beef Advocacy (MBA) graduates are asked to put their skills to use in a variety of ways, from providing a rancher’s perspective for a media interview or magazine article to promoting one of numerous campaigns developed by MBA program staff. Most recently, graduates participated in the Food Waste Challenge which sought to bring awareness to how food waste affects sustainability while highlighting beef’s efficiencies. Additionally, graduates shared resources and information regarding the Veterinary Feed Directive to provide clarity to an inquiring consumer base.
(Photo at right: The MBA Mobile Conversation Guide gives graduates access to information from the courses at their fingertips, via their smartphone.)
Protection from misinformation is key to the long-term success of the beef community – especially considering consumers’ growing demands for transparency of cattle and beef production practices and responsiveness to consumers’ values and needs. They want the truth that makes them comfortable with every step of the process and the final product if they are to continue or increase their beef purchases, and that’s what the checkoff provides through its safeguarding process.