Media as a whole has taken a battering over the past five to 10 years, but has rural media done it slightly better, is the question I would ask.
When we look at the livestock space in particular from stud sales, to store markets, field days and even more so the private sales, we can see the livestock space had already started gearing itself to prepare in a way for COVID-19.
We have seen a surge in online platforms and sales, like AuctionsPlus, which is no overnight sensation. It is a business that started in the 1980s and had to tread water for many years before its recent boom in popularity.
There is also the emergence of the likes of The Herd Online, Farmgate Auctions and Elite Livestock Auctions that have seen private sales and online saleyard sales increase in popularity over the past few years.
Therefore the average livestock producer, both stud and commercial have had to question whether they want to use these platforms as part of their sales and marketing mix, or whether they continue to do what they have always done.
The same could be said for rural media and maybe the lack of urgency has been part of the demise of some parts of our industry, as the willingness to change and adapt hasn't been as strong as it could have been to survive.
The point here that I make is that these services don't survive without a strong rural media like The Land, whether they advertise in them or not, they rely on the reports, the coverage, the exposure they receive for these platforms to work.
To this point, I believe that the remaining rural media outlets have a greater responsibility to deliver highly engaging content in many new ways to reach a wider audience, but the crux of it is that a solid print and online product is still the backbone for all these other platforms to be successful.
Looking back on my 18 years at The Land, I can say I have worked through a large percentage of this change, from running film canisters to a plane to get them to head office in time to print, to now tweeting and using Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Our photos can now be published in a matter of seconds.
As the technology has changed, we have also had to change our model to attract new audiences and revenue streams.
The Land is now much more than just a newspaper. It is also the stable for a range of events like the Beef Spectacular Feedback Trial, Northern and Southern Beef Weeks, Sheep Week and recently, the highly successful online Beef Battle.
We have also partnered with industry leaders like the Australian Liveststock and Property Agents Association to livestream their annual competitions across three states, and to video its young auctioneer selection schools.
Through creating partnerships with Wild Colt Productions we have been able to offer our customers the opportunity to video and livestream their events like the Hereford and Angus conferences or producing video and livestream content for Beef Australia.
It is this ability to adapt in the livestock space that has helped us remain relevant in the market and deliver our customers new experiences and to provide exposure to a whole new audience.
Among these initiatives are events like the Beef Battle, which alone had close to 18,000 viewers from more than 50 countries to watch the online judging. It also attracted another 24,000 logging in via social media.
The Feedback Trial, now in its 12th year has had over 5000 head of cattle entered since its inception. Likewise, the company's livestock field days have regularly booked close to 200 entrants per year across the past 15 years.
These iniatives are among what sets The Land apart in the livestock space.
ACM also, several years ago, developed online platforms once it recognised its audience was migrating to online. This led to the creation of Agtrader.com.au, now one of the most visited classified platforms in Australia, and two years ago the company also developed Livestock Connect, a one-stop shop for news and market information for cattle, sheep and horses, and has a facelift in the pipeline to be revealed in July 2020.
ACM is also producing the Sire Shootout in July, with a $5000 cash prize for the winner. This is designed for the sprng bull market.
The Sire Shootout offers studs more than just cash, but exposure you can't buy, through the reach of our online agricultural mastheads, whether you win or not.