The 2016 Dairy Strong conference featured a variety of exceptional keynote presentations, with many presenters coming from outside of the agriculture sector, but few would argue that any of them made as strong of an impact as Jonathan Perelman’s. Perelman is the Head the Digital Ventures at ICM Partners, the former Vice President of Motion Pictures at Buzzfeed, the former Global Lead of Industry Relations at Google, and has had incredible success in the world of digital strategy and online advertising. His presentation centered around the power that social media has on our culture and the potential it holds for businesses in terms of successfully sharing stories and engaging with customers.
“Be it 40,000 years ago with cave paintings, to the invention of the printing press, to the invention of television and cable television, and now to mobile communications and social media, we all want stories, we all want to be entertained,” he said. “And if you do that the right way, it can actually be stronger than just entertainment. It can make people take an action.”
Perelman sat down with AgWired for an interview following his presentation. He discussed his take on some of the problems agriculture is facing in the realm of communications, such as the power and influence held by several anti-agriculture groups and documentaries, and offered several ideas and solutions.
“Whatever side of this argument you’re on, the impact [of the anti-ag content] has already been made, so I would try to flip it around and call on people in the industry to ask what stories they would like to tell,” he said. “Look at how successful some of those stories have been, even if they’re wrong. Ask yourselves how can you go on the other side, and tell people your story. You can do it in a big documentary, or a big film, but you can also do it every single day with the power of the social web. You can have that impact every single day. It might not be the mass impact right away, but little by little that impact of each and every farmer will become a tidal wave.”
In terms of how agriculture should market their story to a population of consumers that has never been more removed from the practice of food production, he offered the following advice: “We may be three generations removed from farming, but everybody eats. There is a story behind everything that’s on your plate and in your glass. if the industry comes together and celebrates that, and tells that story, it doesn’t matter how removed consumers are, you are impacted every day by it. Understand and own the messaging that you want to have and say “this is us, this is what we’re doing.”
Listen to Lizzy’s full interview with Jonathan here:
Interview with Jonathan Perelman, ICM