We need to do a better job of storytelling if people are going to start making a stronger set of positive connections to our forests, the people responsible for managing them and how they make our lives better.
Research shows that there is an alarming disconnect when it comes to understanding how and why different forests are managed for different benefits, the roles and responsibilities of forest stewards and the sustainability of forest products.
With great challenges, though, comes great opportunity to not only dispel these myths, but show how our forests are providing solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face as a society today. Challenges like living with wildfire, protecting clean air and water, and preserving essential wildlife habitat. Taken a step further, we can show how through innovative management and manufacturing our forests are actually helping us to re-imagine our cities and rethink our carbon future.
In a media-saturated world, if we are going to build trust in the sector, we are going to do it by telling great stories that reach beyond the echo-chamber, and re-frame the conversation with key audiences. Data and nuance are impressive and important, but real change starts with “hearts, and then minds.”
Stories prepare people to listen and create the permission to engage in a real conversation about the future of our forests and the different roles and responsibilities of the stewards who are shaping it.
Under the banner of #forestproud, The North American Forest Partnership is focused on identifying and telling those stories through a consistent supply of original, “pressure-tested” content. With more than 100 members that include family businesses, forest product companies, conservation and recreation organizations, universities and government agencies, #forestproud is the most diverse coalition aligned to tell these stories.
#FORESTPROUD AT A GLANCE
What’s the mission of #forestproud?
To deliver trust and support to manage, harvest and conserve North America’s forests in ways that address key societal challenges.
Who is part of the North American Forest Partnership?
The partnership includes private landowners and investors, forest product companies, industry associations, state and federal management organizations, conservation groups, communications efforts focused on forest sector issues, recreational interests such as hunting and fishing organizations and forestry schools. People and organizations passionate about the resource, the future of forests and the community responsible for shaping that future.
How is #forestproud funded?
Investors make a fixed annual contribution scaled to their revenues, holdings or funding and appropriate to their role in the sector. There are specific governance and content strategy development benefits associated with each investment tier. The diversity essential to our value proposition is carefully maintained at each level in the governance structure.
Why does it make sense to join #forestproud?
1. The diversity of the partnership lends credibility and authenticity to the content.
2. Resources are pooled, producing high quality content beyond the budget and staffing of individual partners.
3. Content is pre-tested and refined by the coalition and in social media using cutting edge analytics.
Producing content that has been validated by a diverse coalition allows NAFP to work with influencers with significant reach beyond the sector; amplifying our shared message to policymakers and current and future employees. NAFP is uniquely positioned to engage “ambassadors” for the sector with this strategy. Credible ambassadors are far less likely to engage with and share content sourced from individual companies and organizations than content that has been authenticated by the review of a broader coalition, representing a diversity of viewpoints and a shared commitment to a message or story.
How does #forestproud produce effective, aligned content when working with such a diverse group?
By investing heavily in our relationship with every partner, continually refining a clear content strategy, adhering to a strict development process and being consistent to a core set of messages developed by our investor.
The original videos, whiteboard animations, social content, and podcasts produced by #forestproud represent the highest common denominator thinking of the partnership. While in theory “herding these cats” might seem a tall order, in practice it is this pressure testing of content by a diverse, committed community that makes that content unique and impactful.
We are happy to connect potential investors with existing investors who can speak to the content strategy development process and their experience of working as active partners with us. Will Novy-Hildesley is executive director of #forestproud. You can check out #forestproud at www.forestproud.org or on social @forestproud on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.