How a PR campaign is like peanut farming

Peanut season is my favorite time of year. At night I can hear the loud, but peaceful, whirring sounds of Damascus Peanut Company’s dryers. And I love the smells! There is nothing like the smell of “goobers on the ground” after the shakers flip them over and they are lying on top of the dirt. Most people don’t realize that there is more to peanut farming than just planting, watering and picking. It involves careful planning and research, much like that of a public relations campaign.
For starters, farmers hire crop consultants, in the same way that a company may hire a PR firm, to guide it and make recommendations throughout the entire process to ensure a successful harvest, or launch.  My husband actually does some consulting, and it amazes me how similar our daily tasks really are. First comes a great deal of research: analyzing soil samples for pH and phosphorous levels, learning about new or different varieties of seed and attending grower meetings to hear about the latest and greatest in agricultural products. From everything the consultant learns, he devises a plan for the season. Now, I am pretty sure that a startup’s marketing executives are not going to go dig up dirt (well, at least not the kind of “dirt” you plant stuff in) to get a campaign started. But research is crucial to our planning, as well. What are the goals? What is the budget? Who is the audience? Who are the competitors? What is the timeline? How we will measure PR results? Different, but the same.
Now once those nuts are planted, it’s far from over. Both peanuts and PR campaigns require constant nurturing. Watering and scouting are daily necessities. I often compare crop scouting with my daily news scans. What is going on in the industry? Are there issues that need to be responded to? Do we need to do damage control? From a farming standpoint, scouting helps the farmer know if his plants are getting enough rain or irrigation. Fungicide or herbicide application would be like an issues response campaign. Insects that eat the plants or wild hogs digging them up would need damage control. (Let’s hope peanut farmers have more damage control to deal with than PR pros do during an average season.)
So, like PR pros, farmers research, plan, nurture and make important decisions to ensure a successful launch or crop. And of course for both, evaluating the end result is important. What did we do right this time that we can do again? What didn’t we do, and what can we do next time? The farmer has a good yield, and he is happy. The startup has grown its brand awareness, and it is happy. I have a pot of peanuts boiling on my stove, and I am happy.
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