NACIA Media Relations 101

NACIA’s Purpose: The Purpose of the NACIA Media Working Group is to proactively communicate, disseminate, and promote factual, positive and consistent messages that will encourage growth of the Insects as Food and Feed Industry.

Project Objective: Create a guide for industry professionals to use when addressing the media about the industry. 


CONTENTS

  1. Introduction to PR Checklist

    1. Purpose

    2. Overview

  2. General Guidelines - Terminology & Messaging

    1. Terminology Guidelines

    2. Proactive Messaging

  3. Stakeholders & Audiences

  4. Common ‘Gotcha Questions’ & Statements


INTRODUCTION TO PR CHECKLIST

PURPOSE

This guide is meant to help all member companies achieve their communication goals, while aligning us across companies as a unified front. This means using similar terminology and details to represent the industry and eliminate any doubts the media may find. Proactive training for our industry can help us steer the dialogue into a net positive for everyone, educating potential strategic partners and customers in the best light. Below are a few tips that will help make a great impression in your next interview: 

OVERVIEW

1. When the media calls

    • Get the reporter’s name, organization & contact info

    • Ask for a deadline

    • What is the angle of the article? 

    • Ask if reporters can send the questions in advance (it’s ok if not!)

  • Keep in mind reporters may not want to produce a positive piece on our industry. Don’t make things up (you don’t have to know the answer to every question)

2. Make a plan and goal for the interview

    • What would you like to see in the resulting media coverage? 

    • What two or three key messages do you want to relay? 

    • Ask the questions YOU want to answer

  • Don’t wait for the reporter to ask the question you want to answer. Plan to segue into the topic you want to discuss. (“The more interesting question is…” or “What really matters is…”) 

3. Anticipate and practice difficult questions

    • Preparation is key to feeling in control 

    • Keep things simple and on message

    • Don’t be afraid to ask a question from the reporter to clarify the issue

    • If you don’t know the answer, just say so

    • Don’t say “no comment” (it looks like you’re hiding something)

  • There’s nothing wrong with saying you don’t know (or that you’ll get back to a reporter with a follow-up answer that you can type up and craft)

  • More is not better; answer questions briefly (when you give long-winded answers, you give the journalist the power to choose which parts of your answer to use and omit) 

3.Watch for “gotcha questions”

    • Not all reporters have the best intentions. Some will ask loaded questions that paint you negatively no matter how you answer. The trick is to answer as briefly as possible, and create a bridge from the negative question to the message you want to convey

4.Have facts to backup your points

    • If you can provide facts and back the sources, you’ll sound much more credible 

5. Contact at NACIA for support - here

    • Go over the interview with you (helps to keep composure)

    • Help navigate questions and responses


GENERAL GUIDELINES -TERMINOLOGY & MESSAGING

Answer this: What’s the story? Why should I care? Why should I care NOW?

TERMINOLOGY GUIDELINES

(what we say/don’t - we can’t control what journalists say)

  1. Terms to avoid:  

    1. Maggot (powerful negative connotation)

    2. Creepy Crawlers

    3. Pests

    4. Any third-world country - derogatory

    5. Cricket flour (unless a flour mixture)

    6. Apocalypse/poverty

  2. Terms to use:

    1. An entomo form of “seafood”

    2. Super food (rather than alternative protein)

    3. Wow factor

    4. Alternative or business names (like Chirps)

    5. Micro meat; little livestock

    6. Evolutionary food staple; prebiotic

    7. Microbial/microbiome; watch evolving scientific literature for more direction;  (microbiome reaching those food conscious and looking to fermentation, etc.)

    8. Powerhouse food (cricket meal): complete protein; anti-microbial; immunity 

    9. Insect agriculture space/sustainable insect farming

    10. Use “developing world” when referencing Africa, Asia, Latin America, etc if speaking generally; better to use specific insects and countries though to make your point.

PROACTIVE MESSAGING

What Proactive/Positive messages can we outline now?

  1. Language (e.g., Superfood vs. alternative protein)

  2. Moving "Ick" Factor to "Flinch" to "Wow"

  3. Education 

  4. Economic impact/Job development

  5. Industry guidance on imagery of edible insects/insects as feed 

  6. Taste! One of the most motivating factors for consumer behavior

  7. Nutrition

  8. Environmental/sustainability 

  9. Change concept from foriegn and new to  normal (not new trend) 

  10. Integration into larger picture

  11. Macro-trends driving the industry 

  12. Safety / Cricket Farming

  13. Expanded market applications (food, feed, waste, pharma, etc…)

  14. Social Impact

  15. Fine dining (Black Ant NYC, Noma, Insects In The Backyard)


STAKEHOLDERS & AUDIENCES

What key messaging & approaches are best geared toward each audience? What is our goal with each? Common concerns? 

  1. Protein mongers/gym rats/fitness forward  - Build muscle and lose weight without additives from whey or preservatives commonly found in gym supplements

  2. Paleos - Meets dietary requirements without fear of additives outside of diet, how they can incorporate insects in diet

  3. Clean eaters/mom bloggers/families - Generate stories from trusted bloggers as well as see kids/family reaction and willingness to try, pushing the health factor and how fun it is to try new foods at home

  4. Functional foodies with meal replacement options- Substitute insects in dishes in an easily adaptable way. Food bloggers are a great resource who have a loyal following and a strong voice within their circle  

  5. Avant Garde - Excited by new flavors & ingredients/chefs willing to push the envelope 

  6. Sustainability Seekers - Willing to pay more if better for environment who are open to try new concepts, possibly with personal message behind their diet

  7. Media - With general media, make sure YOU control the narrative. Be wary of media looking to poke fun or spread angles that are counterproductive. 

  8. Investors- Those wanting facts and figures to see where food trends are going,  find out if it’s worth their time and money

  9. Changemakers & trendsetters - Create awareness among those who have strong online presence in community and/or social media, using innovative ways for each media platform

  10. Government (House & Senate Ag Committees, local community decision makers/Smart Cities, Regulatory bodies)- Public/Political figures who have influence within communities to pass laws or bring ideal to the table

  11. Acceptance/Perception- Change of mind after trying and what they took away from the experience

  12. Farmers (soil amendment), cannabis growers - There is anecdotal evidence that chitin in frass activates an immune response in plants.

  13. Educational institutions (inspire)  - If giving an interview to an audience that could potentially partner/buy/teach about the industry - then tailor your talk to inspirational points, opportunities, and tangible “CTAs” or calls to actions TODAY. Steps that folks can take to get involved 


COMMON ‘GOTCHA QUESTIONS’ AND STATEMENTS

Questions intended to trip you up, frequently criticized or misguided information & appropriate responses 

  1. Why not go vegetarian/vegan? 

    1. For vegans whose intentions are to do less harm then bugs may be the right answer. There are some reports that demonstrate that unless plant-based diets are literally farm-to-table, the variety and amount of plants needed in an average vegan diet (1) kill lots of insects (and small animals) in the farming/harvesting process and (2) require a degree of energy/resources (still less than meat but more than purely farming insects). 

    2. Insects require little in resources to live including land, unlike soybeans which have caused a widespread deforestation and displacement of small farmers and indigenous peoples around the globe. 

    3. Insects are cold blooded. When they are farmed for consumption they are placed in a fridge where they will 'fall asleep' then into a freezer. 

  2. Do insects feel pain?

    1. There is not a true answer for this as. However, EU regulations on insects as food cite research on their central nervous system, and that governing body, has ruled that they do not feel pain. This is because they lack pain receptors (nociceptors). They are unable to translate negative stimuli into an emotional experience so it is believed they cannot react upon physical experiences emotionally. 

  3. Apocalyptic language 

    1. This can create a derogatory/fearful view of eating insects. This is not a new trend. Insects have been a staple in people's diets for years simply for food. In the United States, some people view eating insects only if they had to. This categorizes entomology as a last resort when in reality, it’s a delicious meal that millions of people in Asia, Africa and Latin America choose to eat. 

  4. Insects are dangerous to consume

    1. Farms who closely regulate conditions may offset issue, such as monitoring diet and pesticides. 

  5. Referencing insects as an ‘emergency food’ (“If bugs are so nutritious, why don’t you just feed them to starving people in developing nations?”)

    1. Our goal is to make bugs an “everybody food.” If a product is initially marketed as an “emergency food,” it will be very difficult to re-brand it to more elevated cuisines. In contrast, if a product is initially branded as a gourmet ingredient, it is very easy to market this product into any category.  

    2. Current research indicates that geography is the strongest predictor of whether a culture will eat bugs. There are many people who, given the choice between a cricket dish and chicken dish, would prefer the savory insect snack based on taste alone. Eating bugs is not inexorably linked with poverty. 

  6. You have to kill more insects to feed a human than livestock, so isn’t entomology more inhumane? 

    1. Yes, but consider the number of eggs an insect lays plus the space they require to live. Then think about how farmers use pesticides to kill insects for the sake of their crops. Additionally, when farming crops such as soy, it results in deforestation and millions of animals killed, including small mammals, birds, reptiles, and yeah, tons of insects, all killed needlessly for tofu (or almonds or other growing big-agri industrial complexes.)