Sydney Royal Easter Show – is agriculture missing a massive marketing opportunity?

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I was very interested to read editor Andrew Norris’ article in The Land April 6th 2017 The Royal an underutilised event . Having made some strong and controversial comments in my 2015 blog post When farmers are their own worst enemy on the Australian dairy industry’s efforts to build warm and enduring relationships with the one million people who attend the Sydney Royal Easter Show I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the great work that is being done by industry and the RAS team at the show.

But firstly there was a reader comment following Andrew’s article that caught my eye

Yep, great Andrew…but the RAS Show will reach less non-farming people in the next 14 days than will the Sydney Morning Herald and Fin Review which are other Fairfax mastheads like yours. How many of your Show stories will those publications carry? Is the true problem to be found in the shallow coverage of rural issues – that don’t entail natural disaster – in non-rural media and organised social media?   

I would like to address this comment on three levels

In the first instance Sydney Royal Easter Show is a marketing opportunity. Its a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness and appreciation for agriculture.

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Students from Wilberforce Public School loved showing their Archie off to Farmer Tim

Show-goers no matter what age want to meet real farmers and have two way conversations with them. The show offers that opportunity en masse.  Too often we make the mistake of thinking its an education opportunity only and we bombard our consumer show patrons with stats no-one will remember or are interested in and dull non interactive displays.

Secondly on the subject of statistics, consumer reach is an output not an outcome. Its that old adage of quality not quantity and it can be very difficult to measure outcomes and impact at an event like the Sydney Royal Easter Show or print or TV media for that matter. But if you are missing in action or don’t do it smartly then its a no brainier that you are missing an opportunity

Thirdly my expereince tells me mainstream print and TV media are very happy to print/showcase good news stories about agriculture. I have plenty of examples to back this up. Agriculture just has to learn how to pitch these stories more effectively.

So getting back to the good news stories about agriculture and the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Please note I am showcasing ‘activations” (event lingo for interactive hands on displays) that I  have been involved in. I would love to hear about others.

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The Cotton Australia (CA) activation in the Food Farm at the Sydney Royal Easter Show finishes with a photograph of all the students in a field of cotton. Does a crop get any more beautiful than a field of cotton. Pretty sure all the students who met CA”s Sophie Davidson at the show will be able to identify a field of cotton anywhere  

Number one on the list of great news stories is the Food Farm and in particular the Primary School  Preview Day.

The success of this event is multi pronged. It starts with a great team at the RAS, a number of whom are former school teachers and one of their key areas of expertise is knowing how to engage with kids. Farming industry bodies have relished the opportunity to be part of this exciting event and have really stepped up to the plate and every year their activations get more and more impressive

Super kudos this year to NSW Government for their phenomenal Biosecurity activation –  loved it.

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Sydney Water also blew me away

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and how impressive was the Drone activation

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Our team bought along our videographer and we will be able to share with you our activation  which was a partnership with Australian Wool Innovation as well as the Sydney Water and Drone and Vegetable activations on film shortly. in the meantime we have plenty of pictures

Our activation paired Australian Wool Innovation supported Young Farming Champions Peta Bradley ( wool farmer from Armatree) and Dione Howard ( soon to be vet and wool farmer from Lockhart) to create and deliver a fun activity that raised awareness and appreciation of the great Australian natural fibre that is wool and the farmers who produce it.

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Peta Bradley in action introducing the students to her family and their farm as well highlighting the big difference in students numbers at the primary school she attended to the school sizes in Sydney 

We made use of technology and used the Plickers app to ask the students a series of questions.

Plickers Sheep Nos

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Examples of some of the questions 

All the students were given cards that allowed them to select one of four answers

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Dione then scanned their answers with an app on her iPhone which we then showed on the screen as a series of graphs.

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This allowed to us to test their awareness of the industry in general, properties of wool and careers available in the wool sector .

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Students loved the feel of wool SRES Peta amd Dione Wool Activation (26) and we found the lanolin sampling was a big hit    

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with the students deciding it makes the perfect hair gel – how adorable is Ryan

As I previously mentioned measuring impact to determine return on investment (and its very expensive to take a support team to the Royal Easter Show) is not an easy task. We have relished  the challenge and this is how we measured our cut through impact

We asked the students to write one new thing they learnt on a chalk board Archie. What we found was that the groups of students picked up very diverse leanings.

and there was definitely a big consensus of opinion that We Love Wool 

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On another note RAS Dairy Councillor John Fairley has been working relentlessly over the past two years to engage Dairy Australia to help design and deliver a Sydney Royal Easter Show dairy activation in the dairy cattle sheds. John succeeded this year in bringing a Dairy Australia team to the show. and together with farmer ambassadors they hosted dairy cattle shed tours.  Feedback from a few dairy people I have spoken to said it was a  personal success for them and I look forward to the Dairy Australia’s evaluation and impact study.

Footnote 

Special thanks to Greg Mills. What a treasure he is  – not only does he design the questionnaires and teach us the technology he travels from Armidale to Sydney every year to assist on the day . We couldn’t do it without you Greg and we love you to bits  

Previous Picture You in Agriculture activations at the show can be found here

Cotton in 2016

Beef in 2014