The Washington Times - April 29, 2010, 02:10PM

The animal agriculture industry needs to increase its Web presence and work on search engine optimization, the assistant vice president of an international public relations firm said at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 9th Annual Stakeholders Summit in Arlington, Va., Thursday.

Animal-rights groups and those involved in animal agriculture “speak different languages .. .[animal-right groups’] fear-filled rhetoric supercedes ours,” Mary Kathryn Covert of Financial Dynamics told the AAA audience at the Westin Arlington Gateway.  “In agriculture we talk about feeding the world, making food safer, eliminating pathogens, reducing the prevalence of disease. … Let me tell you how animal activists talk: ‘factory farming,’ ‘corporate agriculture business interests,’ ‘12 billion animals slaughtered per year,’ ‘non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.’”’


Such groups are much better able to appeal to the hearts and minds of the general, non-agriculturally aware population because they play on human emotion while animal agriculturists talk “in code,” Covert said.

“We can only talk to ourselves in our own language for so long before we realize the dialogue of the American people is going on in another” arena, she said.

The industry has a chance to reshape the way people see it through the use of seach engine optimization, the manipulation of results a Web user gets when he or she types in certain terms, Covert said. She showed the audience a page view of a Web search run on the terms “factory farming” and “non-therapeutic use of antibiotics.” None of the results brought up on either first page had anything to do with animal agriculture; many were pages, instead, from the Humane Society of the United States.

89 percent of reporters visit news blogs for story research, Covert said.

“A journalist knows you have to continually put out new inform that’s gonna grab the public’s attention,” she said. “We have to do the same thing.”