How an Agency and Its Partner Defeated Misinformation with Education

beehives_low_resibaijc4u_download_low_resolutionCommunicators know all too well how a piece of information—regardless of its veracity—can sometimes become so rooted in mainstream thought that it takes on a life of its own. Bayer CropScience found itself battling just such a tide of misinformation when the company became a focal point of widespread concern over the overall health of the honey bee population.

Because of the centrality of honey bees to a wide range of agricultural products and natural ecosystems, the health of these animals has become an important environmental issue in recent years.

While scientists cite a range of factors that affect honey bees like weather, lack of forage and beekeeping practices, the anti-pesticide community rallied around the idea that neonicotinoids—a class of pesticides and one of Bayer CropScience’s many products—are the single cause of a decline in honey bee health.

After conducting extensive research, the partners found that although most people had little information about the topic, they still believed pesticides were the main cause of honey bee health decline. Knowing that many stakeholders held misconceptions about honey bee health—the global honey bee population has actually increased over the last 50 years—Bayer CropScience engaged Porter Novelli to help educate its audience on the large body of scientific research around the issue of bee health with an educational tour of North America.

The North American Bee Care Tour brought Bayer’s message directly to stakeholders and influencers across the United States and Canada. Covering more than 6,000 miles, the Bee Care Tour brought interactive exhibits and information on Bayer’s Bee Care Program to universities and trade shows across the continent.

The partners engaged state apiarists, community groups, beekeeper associations, corn growers and congressional staff with interactive events and programs that included a mobile beehive with 5,000 honey bees, expert presentations and various videos and educational materials.

The Bee Care Tour raised awareness in the bee community of Bayer’s 25-year commitment to bee health and sustainability by reaching 2,700 influential stakeholders across North America. Press release pickup and social media impressions also helped the Bee Care Tour garner more than 8 million impressions, with almost 1 million coming from social media alone. Porter Novelli and Bayer CropScience were also recognized by PR News for their community relations work with a 2015 Platinum PR Award.

Follow Mark: @MarkRenfree