Devoted to dairy
The Stephenson High School varsity basketball teams have “got milk?”
Twenty large posters of the varsity girls and boys basketball teams sporting milk mustaches hang proudly throughout the school. An additional 400 smaller posters are plastered throughout businesses near the Menominee County school, in the southwestern tip of the Upper Peninsula 15 miles from Wisconsin.
The posters’ purpose is to connect sports, healthy bodies and good nutrition to milk, and what better way than to enlist the varsity basketball teams to herald that message? Seemed like a no-brainer for Steve Brock, who coaches the boys varsity team, which his son, Jake, plays on.
• Stephenson High School teams posed with milk mustaches for posters.
• Michigan Dairy News Bureau helps promote understanding of Michigan dairy.
• Social media is an effective outreach tool for spreading the dairy message.
Steve and wife Becky love basketball; their youngest son, Levi, also plays on the junior varsity team. But when they’re not on the court or in the stands, you’ll likely find them tending to the family’s 500-head dairy operation in nearby Daggett.
It was the Brocks’ idea for the “got milk?” posters, and they say the teams “really had a blast with it.”
It’s one small public relations message, but “with the number of dairy farms decreasing and people being one, two or three generations removed from the farm, we as an industry need to be more visible,” Steve says.
Stressing the pure, wholesome, nutritious goodness of milk is just part of the message. The Brocks are involved in a comprehensive program developed by United Dairy Industry of Michigan called the Michigan Dairy News Bureau.
One focus of MDNB is training farm families as spokespeople for the industry — to be advocates in their communities and serve as sources for media inquiries. Steve and Becky attended daylong media training sessions.
“We want them to tell their story and connect with their community,” says Staci Garcia, industry and public communications director with UDIM. “It’s about creating a public relations plan for their individual dairy and a step-by-step process to reach out.”
There are many avenues to do that, and social media provides an emerging platform. “We teach them about social media and provide industry messaging, but they need to use their own experience to give real meaning to it,” Garcia says.
With a Flip video camera, Becky has started to post video feeds on her Facebook page. “I started with a video of harvest and then posted a video of our Jersey calf running through the barn. At Christmastime, I taped my daughter, Anne, who was home from college, in a Santa hat milking the cows. I explained that the holidays don’t give us a day off.”
This article published in the February, 2011 edition of MICHIGAN FARMER.