At the beginning

Fera Science Ltd – formerly the Food and Environmental Research Agency – is a national and international centre of excellence for interdisciplinary investigation and problem solving across plant and bee health, crop protection, sustainable agriculture, food and feed quality, and chemical safety in the environment. The organisation employs more than 300 scientists at the National Agri-food Innovation Campus near York.

One of the key elements of Fera’s work is crop health: it enables sustainable solutions in agriculture by offering a suite of resources, testing facilities and expertise. It also creates and delivers integrated, innovative and expert research services and products for its partners in crop protection, chemical and animal health companies, as well as food producers and growers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

Our vision

To promote its work in crop health, Fera’s exhibits at major agricultural events. In 2018, it commissioned Horizon Works to support its presence at Cereals – the UK’s technical event for the arable industry, held in Cambridgeshire in June. The high profile event is attended by 20,000 farmers, agronomists and industry professionals.

Horizon Works was tasked with implementing a PR campaign to drive media interest in Fera’s presence at the event and organising on-site interviews with journalists. As part of the Cereals PR campaign, we were commissioned to implement PR activity to support the launch of The Big Soil Community, a national coordinated soil sampling programme for the analysis of soil microbial communities, and The SMART Decision Support Service, a new national capability in decision support which will allow farmers to be ‘ahead of the curve’ when managing crops.

Our approach

The Cereals PR campaign required a co-ordinated, long term approach which drew on our capabilities in media relations, our understanding of the media landscape and the trade press, and our ability to sculpt attention-grabbing content that would make an impact in the agricultural sector.

In addition, it was crucial that we translated the complexities of Fera’s high level scientific work in soil health and risk forecasting in pests and diseases into messages which would resonate with journalists and the farming community.

Finally, our ability to deliver an on-site press office function was vital to the success of the campaign.

“Working with Horizon Works helped us promote our crop health testing facilities and expertise and achieved a successful launch of The Big Soil Community and The SMART Decision Support Service. Horizon Works implemented a comprehensive PR campaign to drive media interest to support our presence at the arable Cereals event. All activities helped communicate our services effectively to our target audience.”

Chloe Cragg, Marketing Executive

The work

Horizon Works developed a comprehensive press pack – containing key information on Fera’s work and its spokespeople – which was distributed to key media contacts ahead of Cereals and was use to ‘whet the appetite’ of journalists. Press releases were also issued on The Big Soil Community and The SMART Decision Support Service prior to the event. This co-ordinated campaign helped to create awareness of Fera’s presence at Cereals and build momentum with the media.

A PR specialist from the Horizon Works team attended Cereals and managed press calls at the Fera marquee for the launches of The Big Soil Community and The SMART Decision Support Service. We also co-ordinated media interviews with Fera’s scientists at the event.

The results and beyond

We created a great deal of media attention at the event: journalists from the BBC, Farmers Guardian, Crop Production Magazine, The Vegetable Farmer, The Farmers Club Journal and Farmers Weekly all engaged with Fera at Cereals: this generated a substantial amount of press coverage.

In addition, our PR campaign around The Big Soil Community and The SMART Decision Support Service generated further coverage in media outlets including Tillage, Farming Monthly, Farming Monthly and Agronomist Arable Farmer. Horizon Works was also commissioned by Fera to promote its presence at The CropTec Show 2018 in Peterborough, the UK’s leading technical and knowledge exchange event for the arable farming industry.

In addition, we have worked with Fera on implementing major PR and digital campaigns around the EU and Defra-funded projects it delivers, and we have supported the promotion of Fera’s proficiency testing arm, Fapas.

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