Don’t overlook the ROI of PR when marketing to farmers

by Jeff Walter
August 16, 2016

PR ROI when marketing to farmers

More PR channels mean more engagement and more opportunities to measure ROI.

The ways in which ag companies and brands engage their farmer audiences continue to evolve faster and faster. And it’s been largely driven through public relations.

Not too long ago, many would have said PR was a form of mass communication. In some ways it still is, but the practice is now much more targeted and integrated. With so many PR channels now available and connected to one another, you can target your messages to specific farmer-audiences and engage them on a very personal level.

That level of engagement has an impact – one that has become easier to measure allowing today’s ag marketer to communicate the ROI and value of PR. In fact, PR can deliver your business the strongest ROI of your marketing budget … if it’s used appropriately.

More to PR than meets the eye

Take the simple news release. Years ago, PR practitioners sent out a news release, used a clipping service to gather all the media outlets where the news release appeared and then tallied up the circulations to determine the “reach” of the news release. Then, wire services provided this all-encompassing service, and maybe even some reports you could share with the CMO.

Now the content in that same news release can do so much more, especially when used to tell a story rather than just talk about a product’s attributes or benefits. A wire service is still valuable, particularly with new engagement reports generated from the search terms you incorporate. Now, you can also distribute your news through all available social channels and monitor those (through mentions like hashtags) to see how and when farmers engage the content.

Video and interactive are a must with any news nowadays. They invite your audience to engage, and are simple to measure (shares, likes, recommendations, comments, etc.). Farmers like video content, a lot. According to a Meredith AgriMedia study, 44 percent of farmers now watch video content on YouTube specifically to acquire information on products and services for their farm. And that number is expected to rise as more farmers choose to engage with content through their mobile devices.

In addition, you can merchandise this same PR content in e-newsletters and native advertising to increase impact and visibility. This drives farmers to your content and allows you to track how they access the information. Plus, farmers then have the ability to share and comment on the content, which gives you yet another metric to follow and report.

And don’t ignore the value of influencer relations. Engage valuable ag industry influencers like media and bloggers, who interact with farmers daily on a number of industry and rural topics. Think of this PR strategy more in qualitative ROI terms than quantitative. These influencers have a unique trust relationship with farmers and can often shape opinions on issues (which might be helpful if a brand reputation issue or crisis arises). These relationships require plenty of personal outreach, but can be well worth it in the long run.

The ROI of PR has never been stronger

These are just a few of examples of PR strategies that are now measureable. Even more will emerge in the future. So the next time someone says that PR isn’t really measurable or that they want to cut your PR budget, take a moment and engage them on the many ways to measure the ROI of PR and the impact it can have on farmers and your brand. They may be surprised how strong the ROI of PR can be and the results it can deliver.

Jeff Walter
About the Author – Jeff Walter

President/Chief Integration Officer. Jeff combines 20 years of client service experience with his deep knowledge and passion for agriculture, which stems from growing up on a corn and soybean farm in northern Illinois. He is a quick study of the brand, the customers and competitors, knows the right questions to ask, and with his oversight on planning and analytics, pushes the team to category-defining strategies and results-driven plans.

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