One of the three publications I write for has a farming and grazing readership and, I have to confess, it has been the most challenging for me.
I may have lived in rural NSW most of my life but that doesn’t make me a farm girl. I’m a townie and it shows like a beacon when I have to ask the right questions to make an informative article on the products that particular publication’s clients are trying to sell. My country background has however given me a great amount of respect for those who make their living off the land.
I’m paid to write about the virtues of the local and regional businesses. I can’t say I don’t enjoy it, I do, I love talking to people. I also enjoy the challenge to make each individual client stand out from the next. Sometimes it takes a fair bit of prodding to find that one thing that makes them different. I’ve found usually it comes down to the people my readers will deal with that makes the difference with both the article and the service they will receive. Sadly, a large majority of business clients don’t want to get more personal than “friendly”, “helpful” or “experienced” when it comes to talking about themselves and their staff. I’m really getting to hate those adjectives. However, it’s a pleasure to speak to people who encourage me to use new descriptive words, or even better, to write in a way that the reader gets a feel for the advertiser without the use of adjectives or adverbs. I’m happy to say living and working in rural NSW there are plenty of them, especially those who supply our rural readership.
The first thing you have to understand about country people is they know manure when they smell it so it’s no good trying to bluff your way through a topic you have no understanding of. Put simply, don’t try to bull shite someone who works around animal faeces.
Secondly, when they agreed to pay for advertising most are paying for it out of the family bank account as farming and grazing is usually a family business. They want value for that investment and they want it just how they want it.
Thirdly, most of these people live a minimum of an hour from town and might get “into the shops” once a month. They don’t get to socialise much and when they get to talk to someone new they like, they will talk and talk and talk.
Lastly, they are genuine people and if you take the time to listen to them you’ll be rewarded with some wonderful tales.
In the beginning of my regular dealings with them, I often felt as if I was being tested to see if I could be trusted. I had no qualms confessing they knew their business better than I even could and they would have to use little words so I could catch up with the lingo. I would have to then give them a quick background on myself and discuss any possible family connections or mutual friends before moving on to the matter at hand. They aren’t nosey, they just like to know what they are dealing with. I see this as a fair exchange as I’ve rang them to discuss their families work.
I have deadlines to meet, as does everyone in my office, and working with people in our farming community can be very time consuming but I find it very rewarding. I speak to most of these individuals once a year but they remember who I am. Before the work starts, they want to tell me about how things have gone for them since the last time we spoke and a quick update on their growing families. I have to keep notes so I don’t get families confused. They have taught me so much and I’m overcoming my uncomfortable, prudish, embarrassment when discussing things like the results of the latest sperm potency tests of their stud animals and I have discovered a wealth of information on the micron count of fleece so my head doesn’t spin near as much when talking to sheep producers. After all, it would be disrespectful not to acknowledge a good count or an improvement from the previous year.
Writing for farmers and graziers is like telling the world about what goes on in their family. I respect that. They have a hard life that can literally be changed by the weather. After three years of talking to them, they still give me a bit of a hard time for being a townie but that’s okay, it is all in good fun.