Today, we are in the era of reputation construction and destruction, says Stan Erwine, vice president of producer relations at Dairy Management Inc., which manages the national dairy checkoff program.

 Ask yourself, are you telling your story and building your reputation the way you want it, or are you letting someone else do it for you? Erwine queried audience members at the Pfizer Dairy Wellness Summit last week in Dallas.

When it comes to telling one’s story, Erwine says the two biggest objections he hears are:

  • I don’t have the time.
  • I don’t want to become a target.

Yet, it’s far better to take the time and be proactive than it is to not do anything at all.

When producers put a face on their operations, it creates an opportunity for them to relate to consumers, and vice versa. Consumers say they trust information from people they consider to be like themselves. 

And, it’s incumbent on producers to communicate what they do and why to consumers when we know that environmental and animal-rights activists are on the other end trying to do the same thing. (Please see related item in this week’s Dairy Alert titled, “Win the public back on animal welfare.”)

To get started, Erwine recommends creating a public relations plan for your operation, which he says is not as daunting as it seems. The checkoff funds “Telling Your Story” communications programs to help producers identify someone on your operation to do this work, establish a timeline, take advantage of industry resources and develop a mission statement, value statement and talking points for your individual operation. Click here to learn more or contact your local dairy-promotion organization.