Agriculture / Rural Work Examples

Westland Milk Products

“Convergence is employed by Westland Milk Products as our internal and external communication specialists. They have worked in this role since April 2012.

“During this time the team at Convergence has demonstrated skills in Crisis Management, supporting the Executive and Senior Leaders on several national and local issues, the most recent of which being the impact of Cyclone Fehi.

“Convergence’s Government Affairs team has provided us with excellent support as we prepared submissions for PGF, DIRA and the Commerce Commission on a number of industry specific topics.

“Convergence also provides almost daily support for external media and stakeholder enquiries.

“Additionally they provide expertise to support our Executive on internal communications across areas such as the Annual General Meeting, Chairman’s reports, Annual reports, Newsletters, Town Halls, Shareholder and Staff engagement.”

“The Convergence team brings a deep understanding of the dairy industry and, specifically, working in a co-operative environment. This is combined with passion and excellent skills. They have extensive practical knowledge of public relations and how communication can be leveraged to support the company’s reputation, brand and its engagement with all stakeholders.”

– Toni Brendish, CEO, Westland Milk Products

Lincoln University Foundation Farmer of the Year

In 2009, the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year Competition was experiencing difficulties. With few entrants, little media coverage and minimal sponsor support, the event was cancelled.

Convergence won a competitive pitch to revamp and manage the competition in 2010. Successful outcomes meant Convergence was retained. It has handled communications and assisted with events management for the competition since.

The competition is now regarded as a premiere event showcasing the South Island’s agricultural excellence and innovation. It has received record numbers of entries, secured generous sponsorship, and enjoys substantial media coverage.

With the trustees we developed the following objectives for Convergence to meet:

  • position the South Island Farmer of the Year as the South Island’s premier farming event
  • attract more sponsorship
  • lift the number of quality entries
  • increase media coverage
  • double attendance at the final’s presentation and at the field day
  • transfer knowledge of innovative farm practices to other farmers

All objectives have been met.

Media coverage has increased exponentially. Each year the competition has attracted a record level of media coverage with nearly 100 separate new items published or broadcast.

Numerous sponsors now support the competition, including key media partners.

With increased publicity, a shift to allowing nominations, and a dedicated resource appointed by the Foundation to encourage those farmers nominated to actually enter, award entries are now at a record and increasing each year.
Attendances at the finals day and awards dinner have averaged around the 100 mark, and field day attendances have reached several hundreds. Convergence works closely with the Foundation secretariat and Lincoln University to coordinate all events focusing especially on promotion, liaison with finalists, media liaison and photography.

The website has been completely revamped to be more user-friendly and easier to update, generating a steady improvement in traffic.

“The input from Convergence especially in the areas of sponsorship and media has been a big part of the recent success of the Lincoln University South Island Farmer of the Year.”

– Ben Todhunter, Lincoln University Foundation Chair, South Island Farmer of the Year

Skellerup

Since 2006 Convergence has undertaken a variety of communications projects for Skellerup including its regular staff newsletter, ad hoc media releases and conducted a comprehensive internal communications audit.

In 2008 we assisted the company to mark the 50th anniversary of its ‘Red Band’ gumboots, generating extensive new media profile. Convergence also delivered a promotional strategy to support Skellerup’s launch of its new Quatro gumboot and developed a comprehensive document on the company’s pump technology for the international market. This year Convergence is again promoting the classic red rubber boots as the iconic Red Band brand turns 60.

Ravensdown

As Ravensdown’s external communication partner, Convergence was involved in crisis communications planning and management associated with traces of DCD being found in milk.
The farmer co-operative had developed a product, Eco-N, which significantly reduced the amount of nitrate potentially leaching from dairy paddocks into waterways. Although the active ingredient in this product was 10 times safer than table salt, it was not described on the international list of acceptable residues in food. This meant any trace in milk, however infinitesimal, could trigger a food trade issue. When traces at parts per million were detected in a handful of New Zealand dairy companies’ products, overseas consumer concern in countries such as China and Sri Lanka became intense.

When the crisis occurred, Convergence was immediately brought in to assist management and the board with the media response. We worked closely with the company to uncover all the facts associated with the matter, assemble them in a form that could be used internally and externally to explain what the issues were and implemented a media communications programme. We developed media releases and Q & As, directly briefed key rural and business media and responded to their queries. Because of experience and reputation within rural media (two of our rural media specialists had more than 50 years’ experience in the sector between them), we were able to leverage our credibility with journalists to ensure Ravensdown’s position was accurately communicated and the facts of the issue were made available.

We were also able to use our contacts with Government departments, in this case mainly the Ministry for Primary Industries, to co-operate with their communications people to ensure co-ordinated release of information. We utilised our strong relations with communications professionals in other affected companies to support the consistency of the information being releases to the public.

Ravensdown initiated the withdrawal of Eco-N while regulatory issues are resolved. Despite losing the revenue from this profitable product, the strong and effective communications management by the co-operative with the support of Convergence protected a much more valuable asset; its brand.

“Since late 2012 Convergence has assisted Ravensdown with a range of corporate communications requirements – from managing high profile media issues to proactive engagement with media designed to promote Ravensdown products and initiatives. They’ve also undertaken a strategic review of sponsorship activity, and assisted with media liaison programmes around our annual results and the appointment of our new CEO. We’ve found Convergence responsive and capable of working with managers throughout the organisation to help meet our communications objectives.”

– Gareth Richards, Group Communications Manager, Ravensdown