Make mistakes, follow up, and consider your audience: Engaging media in the farm and food conversation

If you’ve ever been approached by media to talk about food and farming, your first thought may have been, “Oh no, what if I screw up?”

But Cherilyn Jolly-Nagel, Saskatchewan farmer and active farm politics member, says that if she let every mistake she had made with an interview or with media stop her, she’d never have gotten better at getting the word out about the things that matter to her and her farm business.

Jolly-Nagel’s workshop at the recent Public Trust Summit at Saskatoon focused on engaging with both farm and non-farm media, and getting the story right. Instead of going over the same old “how-tos” on conducting an interview, she shared solid tips on relationship building, the importance of following up with media, and why considering the importance of your non-target audience.

For example, she says that years ago when the CWB monopoly issue was front and centre, her message was always focused on influencing politicians and other farmers, but she realized, eventually, that engaging with consumers (who then hold sway over said politicians) may have actually been just as or even more effective.

It’s this recognition of the audience that’s key in crafting your message, for sure, but Jolly-Nagel adds it’s also just as important to follow up with media after an interview. Sending along a thank you, plus a fact sheet or an overview of your main points could help with accuracy in an article, and it allows you to add context or any points you may have missed but wanted to highlight.

And about those feared mistakes — we all make them, she says. But don’t let that stop you from telling your story!

Hear more from Cherilyn Jolly-Nagel in this interview with RealAgriculture’s Jessika Guse:

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