Today’s food consumers have access to endless information — and misinformation. With activism against farms and food companies on the rise, and activists leveraging digital media to their advantage, it is more important than ever for the food industry to stand up and tell its own story.

Poultry companies have valuable, impactful stories that can help them connect with consumers and address concerns about food production. Producers must be accessible and transparent to build and maintain consumers’ trust in their work.

Tools and techniques on building and maintaining transparency in an age of activism will be presented in an interactive session at the 2019 Chicken Marketing Summit in July. Hinda Mitchell, the founder and president of Inspire PR Group, a communications firm representing valued brands across the U.S., will demonstrate how to build resources — affordably and effectively — and how to integrate storytelling and transparency as an operating strategy.

Transparency to build and maintain consumer trust

To establish a trustworthy connection with consumers, the poultry industry must increase its ability to create confidence in both the process and the product.

“At the end of the day, poultry companies can define themselves, or others will define them, and we may not like how they do it for us,” Mitchell said.

Food companies that have committed to engaging with their stakeholders have learned that proactive sharing builds trust and confidence in the safety and quality of the foods. By being transparent, poultry companies can demonstrate their values — commitment to animal care, commitment to the people involved in the businesses and social responsibility.

Transparency does not come without some tradeoffs. “For some consumers, ignorance is bliss,” Mitchell said. “When we share information about how food is produced, this elevated knowledge can generate even more questions and possibly more concerns.” However, transparency can be achieved in a way that provides value to the consumer, without generating risk to the company.

The key is building and maintaining trust. “If consumers don’t ‘know’ you, it’s hard for them to trust you,” Mitchell said.

How poultry producers can get the upper hand

Audiences consume information visually and at a rapid pace. Food and poultry producers can use this to their advantage.

“We’ve got to meet our consumers where they are — online — and not be afraid to talk about what we do, how we do it, and most importantly, why we do it,” Mitchell said.

Activists are quick to fill the void that food producers have historically been uncomfortable filling. Advances in digital technology and tools such as live video on social media platforms offer opportunities for the food producers to lead the conversation instead of sitting on the sidelines. This engagement creates meaningful two-way communication and builds a relationship — and ultimately trust — between food producers and consumers.

When sharing, it is important for companies to be concise in the amount of information shared and to use language and storytelling that is free from jargon, explained Mitchell.

“The reality is that consumers want answers, and they will listen to us if we have a compelling story to tell,” Mitchell said. “They want to enjoy great poultry foods, and they want to hear from our companies that it’s OK for them to eat our foods, and that they can do so with confidence in our processes and practices.”

Don't miss Mitchell's presentation at the 2019 Chicken Marketing Summit, which will feature video and stories from the front lines in addition to strategies to help your business create consumer confidence.

Register to attend 2019 Chicken Marketing Summit

The 2019 Chicken Marketing Summit will be held at Belmond Charleston Place in Charleston, South Carolina, July 21-23. For more information and to register, visit: www.wattglobalmedia.com/chickenmarketingsummit.