Group Head of Quality Assurance
Explore the critical role of clear and honest communication in the digital age for food safety. Learn how monitoring, managing, and mobilizing content can safeguard brand integrity, intellectual property, and scientific credibility while countering misinformation.
In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, where information travels at the speed of light, the significance of clear and honest communication about food safety cannot be overstated. The consequences of misinformation can be dire, posing risks to public health and potentially tarnishing a brand’s reputation. This article delves into the pivotal role that effective communication plays in not only preserving the integrity of your brand but also in safeguarding your intellectual property and scientific credibility.
Nothing is more aggravating or concerning than to see misinformation spread about food safety protocols and technology. Distorted information can lead to serious health consequences and bad decisions. Equally concerning is that your science, your product, your brand, and your reputation are at risk of being compromised as well.
The digital media environment is a constantly changing landscape of conversations and iterative posts from self-appointed pundits who are neither experts nor authorities. Protecting IP and scientific correctness should be a top priority. But whose job is it? Yours
Truth is fundamental to building trust. By making science [truth] more accessible, it becomes more credible in the eyes of constituents, increasing trust in the innovations, protocols, processes, and products it supports.
“Trust is everything, everywhere, all at once. Repeated research shows that the leadership on which trust depends needs to be delivered at every level of the organization and at every touch point with your key audiences,” cites the publication Trust, Risk and Resilience.
Given the plethora of media platforms and channels, communication today requires a shift in both what and how we communicate to break through the clutter. While facts are essential, more facts simply can’t compete in this noisy universe. Breaking through the clutter requires a more nuanced approach.
“Raising the volume, communicating more, does not equal communicating more effectively. That brings us back to scientists being scientific about communication. They need to be thoughtful and apply more rigours.”
Your mission is straightforward. Apply the same rigour you bring to the science of food to the science of communication, using a data-based, repeatable process for getting the right message out to the media ecosystem. While you can’t control outcomes, you can own the inputs designed to reach the right people in the right ways. It starts with adopting the 3Ms of effective communication — Monitor, Manage, and Mobilize.
The Challenge of Misinformation:
One of the most pressing challenges in this digital era is the rapid dissemination of misinformation by self-proclaimed experts who often lack the necessary expertise and authority. These individuals can wield significant influence over public opinion, even when their claims are unfounded. To counter this growing threat, the responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders. Building and maintaining trust in your brand demands a comprehensive approach that extends throughout your organization and across every touch point with your audience.
Effective Communication in a Noisy World:
In a world inundated with information, simply inundating your audience with more facts is an ineffective communication strategy. Breaking through the clutter requires a more nuanced approach. Scientific professionals must apply the same rigour to their communication efforts as they do to their research. This entails implementing a data-driven, repeatable process for delivering precisely the right message to the vast media ecosystem. The foundation of this approach rests on the principles of the 3Ms of effective communication: Monitor, Manage, and Mobilize.
1. Monitor content/information/conversation platforms
To begin, establish a robust digital monitoring system that systematically scans online conversations, articles, and content related to your business, technology, and pertinent subjects. This system not only provides valuable insights into who is discussing your topics of concern, but it also identifies how and where this information is being shared. More extensive monitoring (in terms of frequency, scale, and reach) may require a greater investment but will yield more comprehensive results. Such systems serve as proactive risk management tools by flagging potential crises and issues before they escalate. Additionally, they enable you to selectively engage with key audiences who share your interests and values.
Put a digital monitoring platform in place that sweeps online conversations and content for specific references to your business, technology, and the conversations around that work. The more robust the monitoring (frequency, scale, reach) the more it will cost. These systems identify and analyze who, how, and where information is being shared around your topics of concern.
Such programs provide insights and opportunities to selectively engage with key audiences that have shared interests. They also help identify potential allies willing to learn more about your approach and information. Many companies consider this investment a ‘risk management’ expense and use it to flag crisis situations and issues before they escalate.
2. Manage your story and your brand
Crafting a compelling, concise, and adaptable narrative for your brand and technology is the next step. It is essential to ensure that your message is clear, crisp, simple, and easily adaptable to a wide range of conversations. Moreover, you must identify potential conversations that could harm your brand and proactively develop positive content to engage media allies. Consistency and frequency are paramount to ensure the uptake and impact of your message. A generally accepted rule of thumb suggests that a message needs to be exposed to an audience at least seven times for it to resonate and stick.
Sharpen and refresh your story. Is it clear, crisp, simple, and easy to insert into a wide variety of conversations? Take time to identify all the conversations that could injure your brand or technology. Then, build positive, proactive content around topics that will attract media allies to follow and share your thoughts. Consistency and frequency are critical to ensure message uptake and impact. A generally accepted rule of thumb holds that it takes at least seven exposures to a message for it to stick.
3. Mobilize content sharing on a routine basis to cultivate allies:
Fostering a culture of routine content sharing on social media platforms is crucial. Engage in daily conversations about science and food safety topics, and invite like-minded individuals to delve deeper into your work through webinars, presentations, or downloadable studies. To amplify your efforts, establish an internal thought leadership team, integrate communication goals into their key performance indicators (KPIs), and encourage them to contribute regularly to social conversations and events.
Make a habit of populating social platforms and engaging in social conversations about science and food safety topics. Take part in conversations daily with people who care about what you care about. Invite them to learn more. Create opportunities to let them gain deeper insights into your work through controlled content like webinars, presentations, or downloadable studies.
Most importantly, build, train, arm, and activate an internal thought leadership team. Integrate a communication goal into team member KPIs. Identify the top themes or topics that relate to the efficacy or value of your brand.
- Schedule each person on that team to write and post 2-3, short 50-word commentaries (with a graphic image) on their social feeds throughout the year.
- Encourage each leader to build a short presentation on the topic they have identified for live events or for your own web-hosted events.
- Promote all commentaries, posts, and speaking engagements across all social platforms.
- Encourage and thank your friends for sharing/commenting and amplifying your content routinely; and take time to help them out with a friendly post or re-tweet that helps their business interests.
Protecting your IP and product is now a team sport. Every member of your business team needs to be a brand ambassador capable of defending and promoting the science and the product. All you need is a good game plan and consistent execution to educate and build a loyal fan base.
In today’s complex and interconnected business landscape, protecting your intellectual property and products requires a concerted, team-based effort. Every member of your organization should function as a brand ambassador, equipped to both defend and promote your scientific integrity and products. By formulating a well-defined game plan and consistently executing it, you can not only educate your audience but also cultivate a loyal fan base while safeguarding your brand and food safety standards. Trust, the cornerstone of a resilient and reputable brand in the digital age, is earned through transparent, thoughtful, and rigorous communication. It remains your most valuable asset in an era where misinformation can spread like wildfire.