Consume, Conserve, Communicate
Science communicator, Filmmaker
Communication Manager, Dallas Safari Club
Jason G. Goldman
As a highly emotive topic, hunting is often surrounded by misinformation, thereby creating a divide between people – this is further heightened by social media. Effectively communicating with the outside world is therefore important if we are to safeguard the long-term future of hunting and hunters.
Jason Goldman opened the panel with a presentation evaluating the current strategy the hunting community is using for communication: the “deficit model.” This model suggests that filling the education gap with knowledge will lead to understanding. However, the message is not getting out there even when the facts are presented. “Focusing on meat and money doesn’t work because people are full of their own values, social identity, ideology, emotions, pre-existing knowledge and exposure to media.” For example, when an organization offered a free tree to citizens in an urban community, despite knowing all the health, economic, and emotional benefits, many citizens still declined the trees because of their past experiences or preconceived notions. So, Goldman proposed the need for a new way of thinking that builds trust through honest engagement that encourages compromise and does not focus on us-vs-them.
Rob Nelson, who moderated the panel discussion, hoped that the session could help individuals and organizations to do better on the communication front.
Jason Goldman emphasized the need for more proactive media participation that does not wait to correct myths or misinformation about hunting. “For hunters, this could involve sharing their emotions and thoughts during their nature experiences in hopes to humanize the activity.” He pointed out how the smells and sounds of nature are so memorable and can really help create those unique narratives.
Karrie Meadows agreed that organizations could encourage individuals to share their stories regardless of if they have professional writing skills or experience. “Everyone has a story and organizations can provide an outlet for those messages.” Organizations can help the messages by encouraging more photos and descriptions of the hunt experience as a whole from beginning to end, instead of solely including photos from the moment of harvest.
Rob Nelson highlighted the importance of organizations in leading the charge in sharing the positive message to the public and equipping people with the skills to tell their stories. “People sometimes need to practice skills such as taking better photos or constructing better posts.”
Mrs. Meadows mentioned how organizations can create guidelines and expectations, but it is important to remember that change takes time, so organizations need to allow time to see the change start to happen and to lead by example in the meantime.
Jason Goldman calls on organizations to set expectations by using proper language and imagery. ”This could even go as far as knowing what outfitters are worth supporting.” He pointed out how sustainable products have a certification that makes it easy for consumers to know what to select.
Rob Nelson reminded about the importance of setting boundaries and knowing what the lines are surrounding what is acceptable and unacceptable in order to call out the rule breakers and have a stronger message that leads to cultural change as a whole in the community.
In recognition of the strong stereotypes and misunderstandings among and within hunters and animal rights groups, the session ended by remembering the need to focus on the group in the middle that can approach situations with an open mind.
For a detailed look at this session, the event can be watched in full on the CIC Facebook page.