Responding to Global Hunger Through Science
Strategic Communications Planning, New Media, Coalition Management, Media Relations, Issue Advocacy, Materials Development, Training/Facilitation
Global hunger has been exacerbated by drought, warfare and climate change, yet coverage of this important issue had been sparse in national media in recent months. A recently commissioned study by the Council on Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) became a call to action for many concerned about the crisis.
Coverage from “green” blogs had been overwhelmingly critical of genetically modified foods and the biotechnology industry as a whole. Discussion had been largely restricted to the policymakers, industry leaders, and related associations, and was nowhere near developed in the exploding world of social media. A major challenge was creating an online agricultural community where none had previously existed.
Turner Strategies worked with members of CropLife International and developed materials for a groundbreaking event that brought together a panel of agricultural experts from the federal government, industry and international organizations to provide a truly global perspective on agriculture technologies and a growing population.
Turner’s role was to promote a town hall-style event at the Newseum in Washington D.C. entitled 9 Billion Served: A Global Dialogue on Meeting Food Needs for the Next Generation. Our goal was to engage traditional media, blogs, and the wider agriculture-related audiences to the roles new technologies have in solving global hunger. Our staffers developed an online media outreach plan that included Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and a livestream presentation that drove the discussion as the event neared and then during the town hall meeting.
In the weeks leading up to the Newseum event, Turner leveraged its contacts in the national media to drum up interest and reached out to bloggers in order to engage their readers in the online community. Local and international agriculture reporters and agriculture schools and programs were pitched the event and encouraged to participate through e-mail, video, Twitter, or as an in-person guest.
Despite a record-breaking snowstorm in the D.C. area, the event brought a strong turnout of media, Hill staffers, industry officials, and other interested stakeholders. 201 people registered to attend the event, including 138 self-identified members of the general public, 47 members of sponsoring organizations and sixteen reporters. More than 10 university agriculture programs participated enthusiastically.
This was the largest-ever simulcast from the Newseum. Over one thousand sites participated in the webcast in more than 22 countries on all the world’s continents, with the exception of Antarctica. There was significant Twitter activity during the event, as made evident by the live Twitter feed. A total of 82,065 people were touched by 897 tweets made made during the two-hours. This translates to 450 tweets per hour, 7.5 per minute, or 1 every 8 seconds. Total Twitter impressions reached 612,505 (the number of times messages were seen). A total of 1,559 clicks were performed on Facebook advertisements from 1,548 unique individuals. 2,595,863 individuals saw at least one advertisement, and there was a total of 6,022,717 advertising impressions.
A total of more than 3,300 page views occurred between January 1, 2010 and February 13, 2010 on the event's website. 1,464 visits to the CropLife website were recorded between February 1-February 11, of which, 727 (50%) had been directed from Facebook. 1,415 visits to the Now Serving: 9 Billion page on the CropLife website were recorded in the same period and 723 (51%) were from Facebook.
The use of social media allowed thousands of individuals the opportunity to shape the course of the discussion. Media hits continued for a long period post-event, laying the groundwork for future work to help push information on agriculture technologies forward.