The UnNoticed Entrepreneur - how to overcome being overlooked.

How we hatched an animal welfare story that the media didn't want to publish.

July 06, 2021 Jim James
The UnNoticed Entrepreneur - how to overcome being overlooked.
How we hatched an animal welfare story that the media didn't want to publish.
Show Notes Transcript

There are times when the media  aren't interested in your story, but there are also times when the news wires, which are the professional services that are there to send out your press releases,  also don't want to send out your press release. So what can you do about that?

 Today, I'm going to share with you a case study on how I turned a press release about caged eggs into a story about salmonella which gained national attention in Singapore.

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There are times when the media. Aren't interested in your story, but there are also times when the news wires. Which are the professional services that are there to send out your press releases. Also don't want to send out your press release. So what can you do about that? Today, I'm going to share with you a case study. Of a service that we provided to a client, actually, an international. animal welfare organization. Working on a case. To do with battery chickens in Singapore. That's right. It was a battery farm in Singapore that was causing some distress for a group. Out of Hong Kong out of the U S called Equitas and Equitas is a global nonprofit organization. Which has offices in the UK, the us and Asia. And it's dedicated to consumer protection and animal welfare. In the food supply chain. So quite specific and they advocate for animal protection. Now they came to us because they had identified that there's a chicken farm in Singapore that was producing what they call caged eggs. In other words, the hens lay their eggs. Inside cages. They're not free range. Now, this is actually against some international moves by both governments and retailers. To have only eggs that are semi free range, but not in small pens and small cages. Now the problem was that had been identified that a large supermarket chain in Singapore owned by a Hong Kong listed company. We're selling eggs that were sourced from a farm in Singapore. That was using caged battery farming. Now the. The case was quite clear. They had video of. Chickens being transported in inhumane conditions, they had. Video taken inside. One of the facilities that showed feces, for example, on the ground and dirty X. They couldn't get any Newswire. To run the press release, but also they couldn't get any other agencies to take on the release. And we did. Question, whether we should do it, but we believe that an organization. Equitas should be supported because they are basically trying to support. The consumer wellbeing and what they're really coming up against is the commercial realities that newswires and the big publishers. By and large get paid a lot of money by these big companies that are, for example, in retail. And also because this retailer in Singapore was well-recognized and the Singapore. egg supplier. Was also one of the leading egg suppliers and recognized by the Singapore government. So there were some questions there about defamation and liability. So we really had to take a look at that carefully first. Once we'd looked at the materials and done our own due diligence. We had to of course, get the client to sign a waiver saying that if there were any implications for us legally they would cover our legal fees because we couldn't take. Of course our own trips down to the egg supplier. And we were aware as we've had before. Sometimes people bring cases against the PR firm, even though the PR firm is just acting on instructions. So once we got those. Assurances from the equitas group, we looked then at the release and they'd written a release that really talked about how this Hong Kong listed retail conglomerate. Should not be allowed to sell its eggs. In Singapore. Now the problem with this of course, is that it's taking on. Goliath. really without any weapons at all. And no one really wanted to highlight the fact that this retail company that was employing a lot of people and paying a lot of landlords, their rent. Was really infringing on what could be seen as a marginal law? No, one's too bothered about chickens in truth. And certainly you don't want it to take on these multinational listed companies except Equitas they wanted to take them on. So we had a look and first of all, we did send out their press release because they said, this is what they'd written, and this is what they would like to send, although we did. Of course. Suggest that it may not get much of a result. Now we could have left it there. We could have said we've done the job you paid us for. You gave us a release and we've sent it. no one wanted to take it. But we don't really work that way. I then said to the client, look, I want to have a word with you and let's just change the approach slightly. And what we did then was we went to look at some of the regulations. In Singapore. And there is actually Singapore egg standard. Can you believe it? So there's a regulatory framework that governs the production of eggs. Now the reason for this is because. egg Production in an unsanitary location can lead to salmonella. And salmonella, which is obviously a really devastating disease and one that has caused a lot of trouble in the past, especially with seafood and and poor refrigerated supply chains. Is an illness that Singapore has done a great deal of work to eradicate. But it just turned out. That in the previous 12 months. There'd been an outbreak of salmonella in Singapore, and it had affected a group of children at a kindergarten. So there was one piece of news that I found in the straits times. About an outbreak of salmonella. So then what I did was I rewrote the press release. And I talked then about the need for Singapore and the Singapore authorities to maintain the standards for consumers. Relating to all foods. But specifically to egg production. Because of the potential. Downstream effects of bad eggs becoming infections for as we've seen for children. With salmonella. So we rewrote the press release. And we didn't mention. The Hong Kong retailer, we didn't try and take on the big retail company. We went to just squeeze. The company that was producing the eggs. Because that company. On its own, then wouldn't be taking on too many battles at once. Then the next thing that we did. Was. We decided to go and take advantage of the multiplier effect. What I mean by that is that. You just need one media to carry the story. And that gives it the currency or the credibility for others to take it. If you're dealing with something that's slightly marginal, slightly contentious realize the impact of selling eggs that were laid by hens in cages. Then. Mainstream media don't really want to touch that. But the online citizen. In Singapore. They did want to run this story. Because the online citizen is run by an independent journalist. Almost a blogger really, but they have a great reading. They have a great following amongst people in Singapore that are not just following the government. Published publications of. The straits times Berita Herian aryan Lianhe Zaobao which are the English language, Malaya and Chinese language publications from the Singapore government. So the online citizen. Ran the story. And what we did was then we amplified that and put that out into social media and we got other people. In mothers groups. To start to repost this. Now, then what happened was that the channel news Asia. Which is actually the TV station. Picked up the story and they ran it on their website. And we then got the client. Story, getting momentum in the market without us doing anything. The cascade. Effect took over as more and more local and international media started to share the news. And then what happened was that the. The Singapore. association. the Singapore food administration. Said publicly that it licenses and regularly inspects chicken, egg farms. and in view of the feedback received about this particular farm. It will continue to inspect the farm that we'd raised the name of. The company itself, a company called Chew agriculture then actually went publicly. Against the statements that we're now we're appearing in 16 media. Saying that facility ceased production and closed in September, 2020, which is only just before. Our piece came out. And they said they've built a new state of the art modern facility, which produces and supplies all of the eggs. Since October, 2020. And that this. Has been thoroughly inspected by the SFA, the Singapore food authority, and it's always met the standards and criteria of sales egg for human consumption. So what started off. As a relatively low key. Stealth approach. Through one publication. Cascaded social media picked it up. Mainstream national media picked it up. And as a result, The company that we had called out actually felt obliged. To make a statement. Now dairy farm, which is the big Hong Kong listed company owned group in Singapore. Which has been selling these. these eggs. Then went on to disclose. About their plan to buy non caged eggs. Actually as an industry, retailers have been committing to sell non caged eggs. But dairy farm. Actually had been Allowing a legacy of supply coming in at dairy farm, then went on to say that they were going to have their own. Their own brand and their own range of non caged. Eggs. So channel news Asia then wrote. As a headline on their website. No food safety issues found at local egg farm following complaint about poor poultry welfare. Now. They said there was no food safety issues. But what we've done is we've raised the whole specter. That there could have been, and that there were. Another piece of coverage came out, dairy farm group egg supply reported to the Singapore food agency. Following investigation. That's right. What I also advised Equitas to do is to file an official complaint. With the Singapore food agency, because I know the Singapore food agency. Is obliged to investigate every major complaint. Made against a supplier in Singapore. what we did was we used this niche strategy by just going to the online citizen. We use the regulatory framework. And we got then media coming in. Starting to cover another headline, for example, international consumer protection organization files complained against local farm for producing caged eggs and each of these. And there are 16 of them. Bring. Great coverage. Pictures of chickens in eggs. And obviously we've got the chew agriculture and dairy farm, both saying that they, they don't. Espouse caged eggs and that they are either. Finishing that, or we'll be finishing and committed to free range X. So the learnings. Don't give up. Just because a mainstream platform doesn't want to give you an airing. It doesn't mean that there isn't an angle somewhere. It's just finding it. Start with one media that will publish the story and build, use the credibility from that coverage. To establish an audience. All you need is one piece of coverage to start. The sense of legitimacy and that can lead to the cascade effect. Amplify that using your own social networks and get other people to share it through this. And if you can. Get the industry players to start to comment because then those people that you need to impact end up being drawn into the conversation. So I want to share with you a case study. For some work we did with the Equitas animal welfare group in Singapore. No one else wanted to touch this story. The first iteration given by the client. Actually wouldn't fly. So we went back, we revisited it. And crisis management. Issues management. Anything specific that might involve, for example, Liability and defamation. Has to be handled extremely carefully. But it can be dealt with a light touch. And it can. End up with great results. And I guess ultimately for those children that might've got salmonella from a tainted eggs. We've done a little bit to try and safeguard their health. And that ultimately makes what we're doing worthwhile. whatever you're doing. I pray that you have good success. And if you don't, if you need any help. Just call me, write to me, Jim, at eastwestpr.Com thank you so much for listening to this episode of the unnoticed show.