After a very difficult early 2020, the garden sector must move on. Whilst some businesses have thrived and others have struggled, we all need to get our messages out to a whole new crop of gardeners.
During lockdown tens and tens of thousands of new people have come to gardening for the first time and an even larger number of experienced participants have reconfirmed their love for it.
If the wider gardening and horticultural industry is to capitalise on this, it must make a series of paradigm shifts in the approach taken to these two vastly different sets of customers and public relations plays a key role in this.
Many of the newcomers to gardening will never buy a gardening magazine or tune in to radio or television gardening programmes. They will get their guidance from social media. They may not have a heritage of gardening in their families, most probably won’t speak Latin and their garden sheds are likely to be home to a lawnmower, a barbecue, tables and chairs – and not much else.
There will be an inevitable drop out from some of these newcomers to the attractions offered by un- locked down Britain, but if the industry is going to help retain the majority, it has to change its messaging. Far too much communication from garden equipment manufacturers, other suppliers and retailers works on an assumption that audiences have a reasonable level of knowledge about gardening. For many of our new cohorts, the explanation of products and what to do in the garden this week guides must take several steps back. They should start with the assumption that the reader knows very little about the subject and the copy needs to explain what, why and how in easy to understand terminology with no jargon.
This approach is not being patronising, indeed the messaging must never be that, but it does have to explain the basics. Why don’t you cut down daffodils and tulips as soon as they have finished flowering? Why shouldn’t you cut the lawn short in hot, dry weather? Why don’t you give your plants and flowers a drink when they are clearly hot and thirsty in the sunshine?
Similarly, the bulk of gardeners who are experienced and knowledgeable receive their information from a far wider source: specialist publications, television and radio and, again, online. Here the PR and social media messaging must be of value to the recipient or they will simply move on. It is all about getting the message over to the audience in an appropriate way. That messaging has to reflect all the new challenges facing our gardeners with climate change and environmental considerations jointly at the top of the leader board.
At Paskett PR we are already working on our planning for the autumn and the Easter launch of products new to market for 2021. We release information to monthly magazines approximately four months in advance of the launch date or event so this means preparing materials and organising approvals at least six months in advance. Daily and weekly publications, radio, television and social media are far more immediate.
This deals with the physical side of the job but the skill is creating the right content for the messaging. With so many new entrants into gardening, a fundamental rethink and fresh approach is necessary.
The post Coronavirus world into which we are moving must reflect these factors to both market segments and time is running out.
Former daily newspaper journalist Graham Paskett founded Paskett Public Relations in 1976. It is the UK’s longest-established specialist gardening PR and social media agency.
Contact Graham at [email protected] or call him on 07860 737225.