‘Let’s take this offline’: Public Relations in the Field

In the age of email and video calls, it’s a refreshing change to interact with clients and journalists face-to-face. Relationships that have been cultivated over broadband are enriched in person, which only strengthens those connections when you return to digital communications.

This point was made clear to me by a client’s subject matter expert during a recent event, who said he would pay closer attention to my emails now that we’ve met. We were standing in a tent at the inauguration ceremony of a new facility, waiting for the dignitary speeches to begin. This is someone who frequents my inbox, usually copied on a thread when I’m seeking more information for a written interview or trying to book media appointments during a tradeshow. Suddenly he had a face to put to the name, transforming me from an abstraction into a real person.

Such is the life of a PR pro. Our career revolves around the curation of relationships. We thrive on collaboration.

Press tour of the new Innovafeed facility

Take this event. French agtech firm Innovafeed opened its doors to the North American Insect Innovation Center (NAIIC), inviting the community to celebrate its international expansion. Innovafeed is strategically located adjacent to ADM’s North American headquarters and the world’s largest corn mill operations. Innovafeed breeds Hermetia illucens, also known as black soldier flies, in state-of-the-art indoor farms, while efficiently repurposing agricultural byproducts from its strategic partner (in the US, that’s ADM) in a pioneering zero-waste framework. This industrial symbiosis model is an innovative approach to minimize the environmental impact of both companies.

Innovafeed Hilucia crop

Christmas Ramirez of ADM and S/B’s Melissa Gloudeman

As a PR rep for ADM’s animal and pet nutrition businesses, I was on-site to support trade media editors in getting the story and ensure ADM’s and Innovafeed’s key messages were well received. Along with my ADM communications counterpart, I shadowed a press tour of the innovation center, where a group of journalists from local, trade and national media peppered our host with questions and snapped photos of the black soldier fly at all stages of its lifecycle. While the agriculture reporters and local TV crews were eager to learn whether Innovafeed was producing insects for humans to eat (nope), trade industry insiders from Petfood Industry and Pet Food Processing were more concerned with the sustainability aspect and when insect protein would be available to pet food manufacturers (immediately).

Following a handful of speeches there was the customary ribbon cutting photo opportunity, time for more press questions, group tours and a reception.

Innovafeed Ribbon Cutting

Photo credit: Innovafeed

It takes a team effort to make events like these a success and to share inspiring stories across the world. Our collaborative approach to media outreach for this event resulted in live webcasts and lengthy feature articles, and we tracked international business and regional trade coverage from Chicago to the Netherlands and beyond. As Moira Rose of Schitt’s Creek once said, “When one of us shines, all of us shine.”

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Melissa Gloudeman is one of our PR pros and an eloquent wordsmith who makes our clients’ stories shine.