Monsanto launches new online strategy to combat critics
So while banGMfood.org has produced a downloadable leaflet "10 reasons why we don't need GM foods", "Santiago" (Monsanto's new PR man from Argentina, apparently) has posted "10 Reasons Why We DO Need GM Food" on the new Monsanto blog, or at least that's what he says he's going to do - "Stay tuned"!!
This is all part of the lively - "check it out!" - world of "Monsanto According to Monsanto". And as well as the friendly new blog, there's Monsanto's twitter feed - "Hey there! MonsantoCo is using Twitter", with messages that can be delivered to "followers" on their mobile phones via the TweetDeck. Positive messages such as:
*February is heart health month! Check out http://www.vistive.com for more information on heart healthy soybean oil.
*Reading an OpEd in the Denver Post written by Robb Fraley, Monsanto's CTO: Coping with Drought via Seed Technology http://bit.ly/fc3p #farm
*Drought affecting Argentina and Brazil crops. Learn about MON's drought-tolerant corn: http://tinyurl.com/dxad8o
*Monsanto's success in seed and trait technologies are leading the way. Check out the updates for our R&D pipeline here: http://bit.ly/3QZLiB
Author and blogger, Linn Cohen-Cole, has recently been effective in focusing web attention on the plight of seed cleaner Steve Hixon, who Monsanto have been pursuing, so the Monsanto blog has an item posted by "Brad" offering reassurance on the issue. http://blog.monsantoblog.com/2009/02/16/seed-cleaners-and-monsanto/
For some time Monsanto has also been building up a library of carefully produced videos of people around the world praising the company and its products, which have then been posted onto YouTube. Expect to see lots of links turning up to these.
This is not, of course, the first time Monsanto has sought to combat its online critics innovatively via the web. Its former head of internet PR, Jay Byrne, fully appreciated what was at stake and the problems the company had dealing with grassroots criticism. As a result a strategy was develkoped intended to "outguerilla the guerillas".
Unfortunately, for Monsanto that internet campaign blew up in their face, after it became clear that the campaign of smears, involving "anonymous" attacks on the companies' critics posted onto messageboards, listservs and front websites, involved the direct participation not only of Monsanto's Washington based internet PR firm but of Monsanto itself.
A period of apparent restraint followed - but now they're back. Monsanto's messages are generally reassuring and upbeat but we're also told, "On occasion we'll use the blog to levy some criticism ourselves. We expect that some of these postings will generate controversy. Creating controversy isn't the intention of this blog, but it's inevitable."
Jay Byrne's favourite quote for fellow PR professionals was, "Think of the internet as a weapon on the table. Either you pick it up or your competitor does, but somebody is going to get killed."
Monsanto According To Monsanto
Monsanto has launched a blog with multiple contributors and they start right out being pretty open about “things.” I think this is great and look forward to how it develops. I’ve been following Kathleen (Ms Monsanto) on Twitter for a while now so it looks like this is one ag company that is not only understanding social media but not afraid to take part in it. Here’s some excerpts from their first post:
"This blog will address issues related to Monsanto, our business, and technology in agriculture.
The title Monsanto According to Monsanto is a spoof of The World According to Monsanto, a horribly biased documentary which portrays Monsanto in a very negative light. Aside from the shoddy journalism, we at Monsanto found it incredibly arrogant that the filmmaker would present her own twisted view of Monsanto as the company’s view of the world.
If anyone should speak to Monsanto’s vision of the world, it’s those of us who come to work here every day and collectively make this company what it is. This is the main reason for this blog.
Monsanto has a fair number of critics. Technology in agriculture is an emotional topic and there are organizations or individuals who generally oppose modern agriculture or biotechnology. This blog will be used on a rather frequent basis to respond to criticism leveled against Monsanto and the use of technology in agriculture. On occasion we’ll use the blog to levy some criticism ourselves. We expect that some of these postings will generate controversy. Creating controversy isn’t the intention of this blog, but it’s inevitable."
ZimmComm has had the pleasure and honor to work on various projects with Monsanto btw. It's great having them more involved in the online conversation!