The power of words sparks change for NSW Farmers

Published: December 2018 | By: Michelle Endacott

You can buy advertising, but the ability to be featured in agricultural news is priceless. Meet the NSW Farmers team getting agriculture onto the front pages.

The Holy Grail of most companies and associations is publicity on the TV news or in newspapers. Anyone with cash can buy paid advertising, but appearing in a news article is trusted so much more. 

Getting your story in the news is tough – for every 50 press releases a journalist receives, 49 will hit the trash. 

NSW Farmers is such a trusted source on agriculture that barely a day goes by when it is not featured in the media. 

An analysis of a single two-month period this year showed the Association featuring in the media 1,282 times, reaching over 13 million people. If that was paid at advertising rates, it would cost $3,568,367. 

Driving the publicity is NSW Farmers’ director of public affairs Kathleen Curry. As a former Prime7 TV reporter, she is top of mind when journalists are looking for expert opinions. NSW Farmers received its largest audience this year on 24 July during its annual conference, when 300 farmers met at Sydney’s Luna Park. And drought coverage featuring NSW Farmers was logged in The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Telegraph, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, in TV news on the ABC, 7, 9 and 10, and on 10’s The Project. 

Kathleen’s team includes Michael Burt, who works closely with regional media, and Aimee Rollandi, who oversees the Association’s social media content. Kathleen also works closely with marketing and sponsorship manager Anna-Kate McDonald and marketing coordinator Alex Cohen, who spread the Association message via field days, social media, partnerships, ads and regional meetings – to name but a few. 

Kathleen Curry
Director of public affairs

Your biggest achievements? 
This magazine of course! It was exciting helping shape The Farmer and launching it in May. Our ag community can finally see all the positive industry stories that haven’t been told before. It’s fast becoming an influential policy platform. You know you’re on track when politicians use Question Time to praise it as a “great journal”, which recently happened on Macquarie Street.

What are the biggest challenges for farmers? 
Climate change. We’ve always been the land of droughts and flooding rains but they are becoming more frequent and intense with the chemistry in the atmosphere and oceans being altered – this affects all our farmers. Another big challenge is the disconnect between city and bush. 

“Most city dwellers once had country cousins, but times have changed and I see a disconnect between food and fibre producers and consumers getting stronger.”

*READ MORE about how farmers are adapting to dry conditions: 
- Building resilience in the dry
- Get your head in the game: drought is part of farming
- Tamworth farmer diversifies from beef to hay
- Hay prices surge in drought crisis 

What is your background? 
I studied law and communication then worked as a radio journalist in Sydney before joining the Prime7 team as the network’s state political reporter. My interest in agriculture took off as I was the only journalist in the press gallery concentrating on rural and regional issues. Two years ago, I joined NSW Farmers and haven’t looked back. Despite being born and raised in Sydney, I do have country roots. My parents were raised on farms in rural Ireland. 
Anna-Kate McDonald
Marketing and sponsorship manager 

Your biggest achievements? 
Starting this role in July, I hit the ground running as the annual conference was in my first week! I then went straight into organising our field days. 

“This has allowed me to put my Blundstone boots on and meet our wonderful members up and down 
the state.”

What are the biggest challenges for farmers? 
Ensuring their voice is heard and the gap between the city and country is closed. It is all very well for politicians to sit in their offices and talk about change without realising the full effects it will have on our rural communities – making decisions without asking farmers their thoughts. We need to support our next generation of farmers and ensure farming is secure and profitable. Future farmers need to be set up for success, and need good infrastructure to support them. Stronger investment in research and development is also necessary so our farmers can keep up with world’s best practice.  

What is your background? 
I grew up in a rural community in New Zealand and spent my free time riding horses and mucking in. Summer holidays consisted of picking fruit at my aunties’ orchard. I went on to do a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, travelled and lived in various countries, working in the fashion and cosmetic industry and hospitality management, before returning to my roots in farming.
Alex Cohen
Marketing coordinator

Your biggest achievements? 
I coordinate the Small Farms membership category, which involves planning activities and communications for these members.

“I’m lucky enough to attend the state’s major field days where I support the amazing work of our regional services managers (RSMs).”

Farm Card offers members deals on products and services, and I help bring in new discounts and keep it all running smoothly.

What are the biggest challenges for farmers?
Our farmers have been tested by challenging weather. As we all know, this is not something that can be controlled and better forecasting is vital for farm management. Other challenges include around social licence, right-to-farm issues and protecting the state from biosecurity risks.

*READ MORE on the challenges of changing conditions: 
- How to reduce the risk of flaming fires during harvest
- Murray-Darling Basin report confirm little improvement
- Bushfires: farmers are on the frontline

What is your background?
Growing up on five acres just outside of Sydney, I always saw myself as a semi-rural kid, until I began working at NSW Farmers. I swiftly learnt I am merely a city slicker with a grassy backyard. Before this role, I spent a number of years working in sales and customer service for a design company. This put me on a marketing career path, and I am now in my final semester of a marketing degree at Western Sydney University. I am excited to continue putting what I’ve learnt into practice here.  

Learn more about the NSW Farmers Team: 
- Meet the grains and horticulture policy makers 
Growing the future for NSW Farmers

Enjoy this story? Want more in-depth news on farming in NSW? Members of NSW Farmers receive a free glossy monthly magazine called The Farmer, direct to their letterbox, with over 130 pages of exclusive news, views and deep analysis. Plus of course, you get all the benefits of being a member of the largest state farming organisation. Join here