March 04, 2024

Illinois Farm Families program wins national award

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Illinois Farm Families Coalition’s consumer engagement campaign to build trust in Illinois farmers and their farming practices was the recipient of the Public Relations Society of America’s prestigious Silver Anvil Award in the “Reputation Management” category.

For more than 75 years, the Silver Anvil has been considered an icon of the communications profession. The award ceremony, held in New York City’s Edison Ballroom on May 19, honored the best communications and public relations campaigns from around the country.

IFF was created by several Illinois commodity and agricultural organizations to meet a growing consumer interest in how our food and everyday essentials are grown and made.

The program gives a voice to the state’s nearly 70,000 family farmers while answering popular questions around food and farming.

Founding members of IFF include the Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Soybean Association and Midwest Dairy Association.

Receiving the award on behalf of the IFF Coalition was Lindsay Mitchell, Illinois Corn Marketing Board communications and marketing director.

“Food is incredibly personal. It fuels our lives and reflects our values. That’s why young Chicago parents especially want to make more informed food choices today that are ‘good for me, my family and my world.’ As individuals search for these ‘truths’ about their food, we recognized early on that farmers’ voices were missing as a source of information,” Mitchell said.

“For more than a decade we’ve raised farmers’ voices to answer consumers’ questions and help them feel more confident in their food choices by providing direct access to credible, trustworthy farm families and resources, offering farm tours, social media interactions and other in-person and virtual experiences.”

The award’s judging criteria weighed heavily on measurable results and changes in audience attitudes and behaviors.

IFF’s efforts have resulted in young Illinois parents’ “farm-to-table IQ” growing to more than twice the national average and building trust in local farm families to an unprecedented 90%.

In 2021 alone, IFF communications reached 10 million-plus people with nearly half a million social media, video and digital engagements.

A popular video series that explored how farmers are part of the solution to some of the state’s biggest environmental challenges is just one of the ways that helped consumers understand the relationship between farmers, the environment and the everyday essentials farmers provide for us all.

As a partner with IFF, strategic communications agency MorganMyers helped develop and work with the state’s farmers to implement the IFF program since 2009, including the initial research that provided insights and direction foundational to the program’s success, and the 2021 research measuring program impact.

As one of the first farmer-to-consumer communications programs of its kind, it has served as a model for other programs.