By Tommy Enright, Wisconsin Farmers Union Communications Associate
Some farms garner a great deal of media attention while similar farms fly below the radar. Why is this? To be sure, there are farmers doing enough awesome things in their communities that people take notice. But more likely, they are good at marketing themselves.
In my experience, attention has a snowball effect. A newspaper writes an article about your farm for their small business section, then a blogger sees that article and wants to do an interview, which gets shared on social media, then the local radio station contacts you for their community-minded/farm-to-table/human interest show.
To put it plainly, media outlets are always looking for content, and newspapers, blogs, and radio shows love stories about beginning farmers. This means that in most cases, all one has to do is reach out to a local newspaper and ask if they’d like to write a human interest story about beginning farmers in their area. There are countless other ways to get your name out there. Maybe your state or region has ag-centric newspapers you can contact. Holding an event on your farm? Write a press release, or call the local radio station.
So why does media matter? Because it is the platform by which you grow your market for your products. One of the best ways to build resilience on your farm is to diversify your markets – don’t put all your eggs in one basket. On Black Rabbit Farm, we sell at the local summer and winter farmers markets, we sell to restaurants and butcher shops, and occasionally we sell on-farm. At the farmers market, folks will come up to me and tell me that they saw me on TV or read about our farm in the paper. They love making the connection. When we started the farm, we hadn’t planned to sell to restaurants, but we were contacted by chefs after a few articles were circulated online. (Full disclosure: it helps that we feature a niche product – pasture raised rabbits.) To that end, chefs talk to each other and move from restaurant to restaurant relatively frequently, so word of mouth is on your side.
The benefits of positive media coverage are myriad. From getting your message out there to making business connections, your farm can quickly become a cornerstone of your community with the help of a little visibility. Sometimes you just need to be a little proactive.
Tommy Enright is a Communications Associate at Wisconsin Farmers Union. He and his spouse, Samantha, own Black Rabbit Farm in Amherst, WI, where they grow vegetables, maintain an orchard, and raise pastured poultry.