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Marketing Campaign Reaches Forest Products Industry, Promotes Jobs & Products
Forest Proud: Campaign promotes the forest products sector as a good environmentally friendly industry and a great place to work. Find out how you can use these resources to help spread the message and tell your story.

By Tim Cox
Date Posted: 2/4/2019

Forest Proud, a marketing and communications campaign for a coalition of the forest products industry, had a successful 2018. It created content for members that is being shared to promote healthy forests and the industry that makes them possible.

The campaign is a product of the North American Forest Partnership, a coalition of more than 100 organizations, government agencies, and businesses. Members include forest products businesses in both the hardwood and softwood industries, the U.S. Forest Service, state forestry agencies, trade associations, and recreational interests.

 “We are the most diverse coalition of interests that are being brought together to tell the story of the forest sector,” said Will Novy-Hildesley, executive director of Forest Proud.

For example, the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association is a member, along with the American Loggers Council, Weyerhaeuser Co., Florida Forestry Association, University of Maine, Kentucky Division of Forestry, Western Wood Preservers Institute, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation, Society of American Foresters, Forest Resources Association, National Hardwood Lumber Association, and the Softwood Lumber Board — to name just a handful.

 “We came together to tell the overall story of the forest sector,” said Novy-Hildesley, instead of relying on individuals or even individual members.

 “Fundamentally, we see our job as reaching existing and potential employees of the forest sector and showing them how it is made up of responsible individual stewards addressing key societal changes.”

The partnership is led by a 22-member board of directors along with an executive committee and a strategy team. Brent McClendon, president and CEO of the NWPCA, serves on the governing board. It is chaired by Colin Moseley, CEO of Simpson Investment Co., which specializes in manufacturing forest products.

 “Our main job is to produce content for the campaign,” explained Novy-Hildesley. The staff of three also is aided by a contractor to produce content for the website (www.forestproud.org) and social media, and they also curate content from other sources.

The Forest Proud website consists mainly of videos and podcasts grouped in three categories: forest ‘101,’ forest ‘choices,’ and forest ‘voices.’  In addition to the website, the campaign uses Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, and Instagram social media channels. Members can use the content on their websites and share it on social media.

Some members have no communications programs, noted Novy-Hildesley. “In that case we’re trying to provide plug-in content and social media so they can have a voice in the industry on these broader issues.” Some members have produced their own videos or conducted podcasts and shared that content with the campaign. Forest Proud branded stickers, hoodies and other items are available to members to help get out the word.

The campaign gives people who already have an interest or stake in the forest products industry “a much more comprehensive understanding of the sector,” said Novy-Hildesley.

The forest products industry needs to develop a workforce for the future, suggested Novy-Hildesley. “We want to draw new talent and diversity to those jobs and show them all the technological changes that are going on.”

Hopefully, in the next 2-5 years, college students graduating with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) degrees will consider jobs and careers in the forest products industry because of the work done by Forest Proud. “The jobs can be very technologically advanced,” he said, “and in companies with good cultures.”

 “It’s our job to bridge that gap,” said Novy-Hildesley, and to help the industry attract the qualified workforce it requires for the future.

The campaign generated 10 million ‘impressions’ in 2018; that means the content showed up in someone’s Facebook feed or other social media. The content is achieving about 1 million views per month. More than 5,000 people ‘follow’ the campaign on social media, and 51,000 people were engaged with the content in some form in 2018 — viewing it, or ‘liking’ or sharing it.

The most important figures, noted Will, were generated by a random survey of people who work in the forest sector. “Sixty-two percent said they recognized the Forest Proud platform,” said Novy-Hildesley. Of that audience, 84% said they used the Forest Proud campaign to help tell the story of their company or organization. The campaign began about two years ago and become active via the Internet in the past 18 months.

 “We’re trying to build something that will outlast a campaign...It will take up to a decade to really reframe public perception of the sector through this work,” said Novy-Hildesley. Funding is provided at various levels by members, sponsors and individuals.

For first-time visitors to the website, he suggested viewing a video about Naomi Mills, a smoke jumper for the U.S. Forest Service. Smoke jumpers are firefighters who parachute to wildfire sites. The video is available at https://forestproud.org/2018/06/22/smokejumper.

 “We’re super-excited to tell these stories,” said Novy-Hildesley. See an overview of the Forest Proud content on this page.



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