By Kevin Roepke and Luis Bustamante
In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began a series of informal, conversational radio addresses to the public to instill confidence on topics ranging from banking to unemployment to fascism. In what would ultimately become known as his famous “fireside chats,” FDR used these speeches to increase connectivity and reduce anxiety amongst Americans that were under unprecedented pressure being applied from the Great Depression and Europe tearing itself apart.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
In an effort to increase communication with Latin American buyers, USSEC recently concluded a series modeled after FDR’s fireside chats. U.S. SOY TALKS were an intimate, informal conversation aimed at injecting up-to-date market intelligence, while challenging importers to increase purchases of U.S. Soy. Bulk freight, leveraging brand reputation, and risk management were all part of the agenda with the cooperation of Alexei Pinedo (APS Brokers), Alfredo Ostos (ELANCO), and Antonio Ochoa (R.J. O’Brien).
“Our goal is to increase the power of our messaging, despite quarantines,” assured Dr. Luis Bustamante, USSEC Marketing Specialist - Americas. “Our team has mobilized to answer customers’ needs and the regional agenda now includes technical servicing and trade servicing online.”
Overall communication to external stakeholders has improved markedly, as virtualization markedly improves efficiencies and lowers burdens on international buyers and integrators. For the aquaculture program alone, the Americas has 12 webinars scheduled over the next 20 days.
Approximately 300 stakeholders in the Americas attended U.S. SOY TALKS over the course of the three-day webinar. Attendees expressed their satisfaction, and asked USSEC to continue such events during quarantine, when they need more support than ever. In mid-March, long before Latin America began issuing national quarantines, USSEC Americas immediately moved to virtualize as many events as possible, while bolstering its existing programs with impromptu check-ins and informational sessions. This decisiveness allowed USSEC to capture as much attention as possible for the new event formats, leading to strong attendance and terrific speakers.
U.S. SOY TALKS represents only one regional program implemented in the virtualization of the Americas programs. The Americas also held the U.S. SOY University Session II, during which staff participated in five training sessions for the first class. During the university sessions, a program design as a cohort learning experience, attendees were able to understand how to seize U.S. soybean products superiority in feed formulation and animal husbandry. The curriculum is loaded with five different modules— sustainability, nutrition, biosecurity, procurement and logistics.
When FDR started his impromptu radio addresses, he had no idea that these “fireside chats” would eventually become the gold standard for presidential addresses to the nation. Much like the 30s and 40s, a crisis catapulted a new era of communication with stakeholders. While we cannot predict the future of opening the global economy back up, perhaps virtualization of events will become the “new (ab)normal” as USSEC levels up its educational outreach to stakeholders.