Chuck Zimmerman: Ag Communications Then and Now

This past week in AGR 399, we had a Skype chat with Chuck Zimmerman, creator of AgWired.com. He explained to us how he got started blogging about agriculture, what the blog is made up of, and how ag communications has changed over the years. Chuck’s personal background is in journalism and radio broadcasting. He was not raised in agriculture, but had always felt a passion for it. Chuck first began AgWired by writing about what he found interesting. He had a learn-as-you-go method, and taught himself many of the tricks of the trade in ag blogging. When the Internet first became popular, there was a period of time in which printed publications slowly transitioned to online publications. Chuck took advantage of this, and was soon teaching other companies how to blog and earn money. Much has changed in Chuck’s time in ag communications, and I think that internet publications will continue to grow in popularity in the future. Agriculture companies will establish themselves online, in social media, and in professional forums. In a short while, we may even see an app for tracking where our food comes from!

Chuck Zimmerman, founder of Zimm Comm New Media, LLC.

Judi Graff: FARMnWIFE

Hello! Again this past week, we had a guest speaker in my PR in Ag class. Judi Graff, the author of the FARMnWife blog, visited our class.  Her presentation was geared toward farm business, but many of her suggestions apply to my kind of blogging as well. So, here are the top 3 things that I learned about more effective blogging.

1. Your blog must be simple and clear, yet appealing to the eye. This is important because you have about 6 seconds to catch someone’s attention before they decide your page isn’t worth reading. I have already made a few changes to my blog by adding things like a “Find me on Facebook” link and a “Top Posts” widget.

2. Have a contact section. This is important because sometimes a follower does not want to make a comment or question public for some reason or another. When you have a contact section, a follower can ask questions to the blogger directly and this kind of direct contact makes the blogger more approachable. I have already added a “Contact Me” at the top of my blog, and I hope you will take advantage of it!

3. Have a call to action. Your blog may have some great information or entertainment, but sometimes readers don’t know what to do with that information. A call to action, such as a poll or a question session, can help not only get the reader involved, but also let the blogger know what the readers like to see. In my blog, I am going to try to learn how to do polls and surveys; I think they will be fun!

Judi gave some amazing tips for effective blogging, and I am so glad that I got to hear her present. I really think that her suggestions will help to improve my blog. As always, thanks for reading, and see you next week!

P.S. Here’s the link to Judi’s blog, FARMnWife, if you want to check it out! http://farmnwife.com/

This Week in AGR 399

In this week’s class, we were given the assignment of preparing a two minute video telling how farmers are important. An easy task but it got harder when we were told we only had about 30 minutes to complete it. This video is pretty rough, but it is the content of the video that matters. Enjoy watching, and long live farmers!

Public Relations in Agriculture

It’s only February, and we have already had many guest speakers in my PR in Ag class. This post will pertain to that, and I will post about another topic later.  But for now, PR in Ag. The presentations I found most informative were this past week, on February 6.  Lynzee Glass, who is the managing editor for Ozarks Farm & Neighbor, shared some of her work experiences with the class.

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Okay, this newspaper was first published in 1998, and has covered agriculture news stories in the Ozarks ever since. As the internet and social media continue to grow in popularity, the staff for this newspaper have had to adapt.

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Our second speaker on this day was Christy Diebold, who works for Springfield Leather Company. This is a family owned and operated specialty leather shop. In the last few months, Christy has been able to gain the owner’s permission to put the business on social media, and it has had quite and impact on the company.

So here are my favorite five points that I took away from this class:

1. The average age of the American farmer is 57. Not many in this generation see a need for social media and the internet, but there are times when these are the most efficient ways of communication. Therefore, there is a definite trend in internet communication for publications such as the Ozarks Farm and Neighbor.

2. The majority of those on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, are younger people. Therefore, when a company or publication wants to put information on these sites, they must present it in a way that grabs our attention. If we only see text, we’ll probably scroll on by, but we are more likely to stop for a photo or video.

3. Lynzee Glass has worked for Ozarks Farm & Neighbor for a couple of years. In that time, she has taken control of the publication’s Facebook page, and its followers have grown to 934 as of today (12 Feb.). Lynzee finds this task challenging, as there is the constant struggle to appeal to both older and younger audiences.

4. Springfield Leather Company only began a Facebook page this past June, and Christy Diebold is responsible for that. She saw the potential in using social media to generate interest in the company. Their Facebook page has 1,421 likes to date.

5. This does not really pertain to PR in Ag, but the Springfield Leather Company store is dog-friendly. In fact, there are usually chihuahuas belonging to employees roaming the store.

These are the points that most stood out to me from our guest speakers’ presentations. We cannot deny how large of an impact social media and the internet have on our lives, and agricultural industries must find a way to have a presence in these outlets in order to best serve consumers.

Here’s the links to Ozarks Farm & Neighbor and Springfield Leather Company of Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ozarks-Farm-Neighbor/74488561543

https://www.facebook.com/SpringfieldLeatherCompany?ref=ts&fref=ts