Author Topic: Live export industry unhappy with communications leadership. 5.3.2012  (Read 888 times)

WA Export News

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Live export industry unhappy with communications leadership. 5.3.2012
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2012, 12:20:21 PM »
The meat industry's research and marketing organisation, Meat and Livestock Australia, has taken a big step back from running the live export show.

The organisation's been silent on the latest Indonesian live export revelations, referring queries to the Government or the Cattle Council.

But while it's not talking publicly, it's still putting its communications muscle and industry money into ensuring a positive story gets out.

In the old days prior to the Four Corners expose on Indonesian live exports, Meat and Livestock Australia commented regularly on the issue.

When animal welfare activists made claims about what was happening in the Middle East, MLA demanded right of reply.

It provided access, organising interviews with employees who lived and worked in the Middle East.

MLA ran a YouTube channel called "LiveExportTruth" with 29 videos which have been watched nearly 350,000 times.

It also ran a website called, complete with educational material for children and a section for busting the myths on live export.

The YouTube channel hasn't been updated since July last year, the website has been pulled offline.

Everything at Meat and Livestock Australia changed after it came under heavy criticism during the Indonesian live export controversy.

A month or so after the Four Corners program, MLA stopped talking.

A new managing director had taken over and the company adopted a new "back to basics" approach.

It defended that strategy at its annual general meeting in Longreach late last year.

Its outgoing chairman Don Heatley was quoted in the Rural Press as saying MLA isn't a lobbyist, or a spokesperson for the Australian cattle, sheep and goat industries.

But while Meat and Livestock Australia has disappeared from the public's view on live exports, it's still working behind the scenes.

At industry request, Meat and Livestock Australia employed the services of media consultancy company 360m.

360m, in consultation with MLA, wrote a strategy to handle future live export controversies.

It was put into action for the first time after Lateline broadcast footage of animal abuse in Indonesian abattoirs.

The "war room", as the industry calls it, was activated.

Multiple daily phone hook ups were organised.

Talking points were distributed widely to make sure everyone says the same thing on the same topic.

The talking points were a success for the industry, they've appeared in many newspaper articles and TV/radio stories.

A strategy document outlines a directive to only respond to media enquires.

The industry's strategy is to not proactively drive media attention.

But it's not making everyone happy.

Some farmer groups want the industry to drive coverage rather than sit back and wait.

The live sheep export industry last year took its own line on the issue, releasing its plan for what it would do during Middle Eastern religious festivals ahead of time.

The strategy distributed by MLA wants the industry to focus on making sure changes in live export markets are working, before again pushing the agenda proactively.

Meat and Livestock Australia says its the industry's service provider.

Any media enquires or issues received by MLA or LiveCorp will be referred to other organisations like the Cattle Council, the Sheep Meat Council or the Department of Agriculture or Live Exporters Council.

And while it's not talking publicly, it'll issue talking points when requested and will monitor what's said about it and the live export industry.

By Will Ockenden

Monday, 05/03/2012