Dom 'Furious George': Keep it short, simple and sexy

Stick to the basics, like All Black legend Richie McCaw did. Photo/Jason Oxenham
Stick to the basics, like All Black legend Richie McCaw did. Photo/Jason Oxenham

The agriculture industry does many things well, but one thing it could do better is shorten the length of its ceremonial and award titles.

Some of them are so long they border on the ridiculous. As a quotient of industry insiders decry the lack of exposure in the mainstream media, it would be advisable to start with a few quick fixes.

The Country team receives an abundance of emails and invitations alerting us to the happenings of the rural world and most of them are thoroughly worthy of exposure and further discussion.

However, a great deal of them are so convoluted it brings on a mild headache trying to decipher who is holding the event, who the sponsor is, what industry is involved and what aspect of the industry is being celebrated or discussed.

For example, you may receive something that says you're invited to the Global Conglomerate Pacific Region Primary Producers Stage Four Portfolio Opportunity First Quarter Opening Ceremony.

Okay, so that may be an extreme, fictitious title, but the reality is it's not far removed. When you receive multiple such missives on a weekly basis, the natural inclination is to shy away and go for something that says the Annual Farm Awards.

This may seem flippant and a tad trivial, but in an age of increasingly bite-sized snippets of information, it's advisable to refrain from such weighty titles and keep it as simple as possible.

I understand not everything is specifically meant for broadcast, and I understand the need for naming rights sponsors, but it all just adds to the glut of information that ultimately leads to a lack of cut-through. And yes, it can be as simple as the length of a title.

There is a genuine desire for certain sectors of the rural community to be taken seriously by their urban counterparts; to break down stereotypes and not have to defend themselves for some perceived notion they're the sole source of environmental pollutants.

Many have identified the mainstream media as a way of doing this and perhaps getting as much coverage as animals rights groups, for example. As someone who's worked in the mainstream media I can tell you the shorter, pithier and more cutting the greater chance of having your voice heard. There is a veritable deluge of rural awards and ceremonies that, while all worthy, are confusing to anyone outside the industry.

There are certain awards and events that do make it to the mainstream and, when you look at it, there's no real surprise. The NZ Dairy Industry Awards is simple and self-explanatory. They glitzed up the event, got a personality to host it in Mike McRoberts and - whaddya know? - it gets mainstream coverage.

I understand not every event can attract star power, just as not every sector can afford Richie McCaw to front their ad campaigns, but there are some steps that can be put in place to 'sexy-up' agriculture.

The Young Farmers, despite differing sponsors through the ages, is another good example. It's easy to understand, a quality competition and has made its way on to television screens. Uncomplicated.

Others could start by taking a leaf out of the books of some rock bands over the years. I don't reckon the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, while still a longish title, would have had the cut through they've had if they maintained their original name, Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem (even if they did write Under the Bridge).
And you may not have even heard of Ozzy Osbourne if Black Sabbath were still known as the Polka Tulk Blues Band! Although I do wish Kiss had kept their original moniker, Wicked Lester ...

So rural New Zealand, shorten those business card titles, chop a few words out of your seminar names and combine a few awards dinners, stop preaching to the converted, and give yourself a shot at showing the rest of the population just exactly what it is you're doing out there.

- The Country

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