Agriculture and COVID-19: How and what to communicate during the pandemic?
As many economic activities crash around the world, and despite the increasing complications, agriculture remains on call 24/7.
But what to communicate during this crisis? How should you do it?
In this article, I analyze a major communication failure in the United States, and I tell you what you should be and shouldn’t be doing right now to mark a difference.
What you shouldn’t be doing
In the United States, more than 40 million people speak Spanish. And according to the Instituto Cervantes, by 2060, the US will only be outnumbered by its neighbor, Mexico.
In light of this increasing trend, it would be expected to find inclusive language policies in the United States. However, what happened in Congress last March showed that this was not the case.
So, what happened?
Three days before the controversy, Trump’s administration had published a document containing coronavirus guidelines. So far, so good.
What was the problem, then?
The English-only document released ignored millions of Spanish speakers in the United States.
In other words, a large part of the population was missing out on key public health information because of unwise language policies.
However, after members of Congress complained about this issue, the Trump Administration finally gave in and decided to translate the document into Spanish.
What does this have to do with US agriculture?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States is not only on its way to becoming one of the main Spanish-speaking countries in the world. It also has an agricultural sector governed by the Spanish language.
According to official data, this sector accounts for the second-largest share of Latino/Hispanic workers after the building industry.
Inclusive language policies in multilingual environments are always important.
But in the context of the current pandemic, they become even more relevant and vital to guarantee the physical and mental well-being of all the people involved in the Ag sector.
So, what does all this have to do with your business?
We are going through tough times of great suffering and loss of lives and employment.
That is why you SHOULD NOT leave anybody out.
And I tell you this because this is the ideal moment to consider a long-term communication strategy if you don’t have one already.
What you should be doing
Having said all this, you are surely wondering how you can mark the difference.
Here are some strategies that you can follow:
What you can do for your employees
Whether you are a big or small agribusiness, producer, or you are in some way related to the food supply chain, the first thing you should do is to make sure all the signs in your facility are in Spanish.
Although employees should understand signs at all times, simple instructions like “wash your hands” have now literally become life saviors.
As a second step, make sure all your internal communications are available in Spanish.
Right now everybody should be following directives to the letter and must work in a coordinated way to ensure actions are implemented effectively. That way, you will avoid misunderstandings or employees’ bad practices.
Finally, if you hadn’t yet considered translating procedure, operations or user manuals now is the perfect time to do so.
Although we are putting a spotlight on the pandemic, truth is that you should also guarantee the safety of your employees beyond this crisis.
And for this, the only way to drive your message home is one: in your audience’s language.
What you can do for your consumers
In times when COVID-19 has disrupted consumers’ purchasing behavior and has forced them to have less direct experience with your product, social media have become the best ally.
Why? Because you can use such tools to show how much you care about your employees and customers alike.
Use your posts to engage with your audience, to reassure and entertain them (be careful with the tone, though, we are amid a sanitary crisis and funny posts may backfire).
Another positive approach right now could be to show the “behind the scenes” of your company. This is a good way to create closeness and show a more “human” side of your business.
A word on this last point: these days, I have read opposing views about whether it is a good time to be selling on social media. To be honest, I feel ambivalent about this.
On the one hand, I think it’s a very sensitive moment and many people are not quite receptive because they are giving their undivided attention to how the pandemic evolves.
On the other hand, it is also true that most people are staying at home and have more free time. That could translate into increased sales for your business.
In any case, I won’t tell you here which marketing strategy to follow because that is not my department.
I strongly suggest that you consult with your marketing professional to set a path that adapts to your brand’s image.
However, I do have a final piece of advice for you:
No matter what you do, make sure the focus of your business is always placed on communication.
My name is Soledad Agüero, and I’m the founder of Semillar Translations.
Semillar combines my two passions, translation and agriculture, to offer you tailored linguistic services in Spanish.
I make your business grow and thrive in Latin American soil.
By crafting quality translations with a pinch of insider’s knowledge that will make you stand out from the competition.
We can start working together right away! Let’s talk about your project, so I can get a better idea of what your business needs.