Message of logging industry's work on forest health, reforestation, is not reaching the 'shamefully uninformed', marketing consultant tells Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference in California, recommends rebranding as the 'green-source business'
February 7, 2014
– Marketing consultant Rocky Slaughter believes Shasta County is a special place and is making a career of promoting his hometown of Redding.
But as he took the podium today at the Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference, Slaughter leveled with the room.
Despite the area's deep roots in logging, Slaughter knew practically nothing about the industry until after he agreed to be keynote speaker for the kickoff breakfast at the Anderson fairgrounds.
Slaughter recalled when Kathie Muse, this year's conference president, asked him if wanted the gig.
"I was so disconnected from your industry," Slaughter told the crowd. "I thought, logger's conference, what, the beer?"
So Slaughter spent some two months learning about harvest plans, timber falling, wood products and the legacy and history of logging in the North State.
"You guys all have an incredible legacy," Slaughter said.
But that history and the actual work that is done sustaining healthy forests, reducing risk of fire, reforestation isn't what the "shamefully uninformed" have heard over the years, Slaughter said.
"My profession is to bring attention to the unknown," Slaughter said.
Words matter, Slaughter said.
Slaughter asked if somebody tells you they are going to work for the logging industry, what comes to mind? He flashed a picture of a forest that had been clear-cut.
"If you say you're working on a forestry project on reforestation, what do you think of?" Slaughter said before showing a picture of a green, lush forest.
Focus on the results. So instead of logging or timber falling, focus on the reforestation, the forest products that derive from the process, the energy created and the healthy forests that are created, Slaughter said.
Somebody in the audience blurted out that most of the people in the room are proud to be loggers.
"I'm not suggesting that you change who you are, but just put your best foot forward," Slaughter said.
The oil industry today markets drilling as exploring for energy and it's not gambling anymore, it's gaming, Slaughter said.
Slaughter recommended the timber industry rebrand itself as the "green-source business."
Afterwards, somebody offered that the industry has been trying to change the message for a generation but it's not working.
"People are well-educated. They just don't want to hear it," the audience member said.
Another person commended Slaughter for his fresh perspective on what the industry can do to change public perception.
Conference President Muse said she picked Slaughter because he had little to no knowledge about what the people in the room Thursday did. Muse is the first woman president in the conference's 65th year.
"That is the education of the Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference; that's what we are all about," Muse said of Slaughter's two-month crash course on logging.
The logging conference and exposition continues Friday and Saturday at the Shasta District Fair grounds in Anderson.
IF YOU GO
What: 65th annual Sierra-Cascade Logging Conference
When: Public expo starts at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday; free admission.
Where: Shasta District Fair grounds in Anderson
More info: Full schedule at sierracascadeexpo.com
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