Posted by: Kristy on March 8, 2017

Posted in: Home, Newsletter, Updates

Setting the Gold Standard

By Daren Williams, ARC Board Chair

It’s hard to beliDarenWilliams_HeadShoteve my term as your President is nearing its end. It has been an honor to give back to the organization that has given me so much. We have accomplished a lot over the past 20 months:

*We reached a new high in membership in the modern ARC era with 130 dues-paying members,

*We launched a new internship program in partnership with Alltech,

*We held two successful annual meetings, learning about communication challenges facing the marijuana industry in Colorado and visiting iconic agribusinesses in Minnesota, and

*We held a series of professional development webinars on a wide range of subjects from crisis management and planning to digital listening and career tips for staying relevant.

I owe a great debt of gratitude to our professional staff and my fellow board members, several of whom I would like to recognize, starting with Executive Director Den Gardner. Den has invested countless hours in ARC beyond what he has been compensated for since he took over the reins of ARC in 2009. Nothing exemplifies his personal dedication to the organization more than his donation of $3,000 annually for five years to the ARC Foundation to fund the new internship.

Board member John Blue has done an amazing job with the ARC webinar series – which earned him the honor of being named the first ARC Volunteer of the Year in 2016. Having led a couple of these webinars I can testify that John puts a lot of effort into making sure they go off without a hitch. He is a true pro.

My vice president, Rebecca Colnar, has done a great job putting together another top notch day of tours for the 2017 Annual Meeting in Sacramento that will feature a hands-on look at rice, almond and wine production. She has been a pleasure to work with and will serve the organization well as its next President.

Speaking of the 2017 Annual Meeting, I am very excited to welcome my former Fleishman-Hillard colleague John Armato to the ARC program. John will lead two “nuts and bolts” workshops on strategic planning and creativity he calls “The Anatomy of a Plan” and “Think Inside the Box” (also the name of his blog). Having worked with John at FH/KC for nearly 10 years I can tell you we are in for a treat. Now in the FH Sacramento office, John is recognized throughout the FH worldwide network as one of the most strategic and creative counselors in the business.

I hope every ARC member will make plans to attend the meeting on June 20-22 in Sacramento. In addition to the tours we will honor the 2017 Golden ARC Award winners and induct the founders of ARC into the Ag PR Hall of Fame at two gala evening events. As always, the agenda will be filled with ample time to network and socialize with your peers in agricultural public relations. Please join us for “Setting the Gold Standard” this summer.

Until then,


Ag Relations Council Annual Conference

“Setting the Gold Standard in Agricultural Public Relations”

Rebecca Colnar, ARC Vice-Chair

The 2017 Ag Relations Council Annual Conference is shaping up to be an exciting, interesting and, of course, enjoyable, not-to-miss event. The location of Sacramento and our “Setting the Gold Standard in Agricultural Public Relations” combines what the area offers in commodity production along with in-depth up-front hot-button issues of labor and overregulation and professional development.

The conference begins with two provocative workshops. One will examine the current climate of immigration and labor and how California farmers are dealing with challenging times.  The California Farm Bureau is working on this issue through communications to enlighten consumers about this important issue.  Bryan Little, with California Farm Bureau, will drill down into the real difficulties, with a local farmer sharing the problems with difficulties of having a transient, immigrant labor force.

In our second workshop, Daniel Schiff, a lawyer with the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF), will review PLF cases that combat overzealous, harmful environmental regulations. Farmer John Duarte has been invited to share his experience of how by just plowing his field he is facing $8 million in fines and jail time. Bob Krauter, chief communications officer, PLF, will share his strategies for media training for their lawyers and other ways of communicating with media, legislators and the general public.

Sacramento is known as “America’s Farm To Fork Capital” and a lunchtime program will review the Farm To Fork Program and how it serves as a year-round platform to highlight the farms, restaurants, organizations and individuals that contribute to the local culinary and agricultural landscapes.

Following lunch, a hands-on, inspiring Creative Strategy and Nuts & Bolts of public relations by communications veteran John Armato will provide an afternoon of professional development.  (See ARC President Daren Williams’ column for details.)

The Wednesday evening Hall of Fame dinner details are still being planned.  It’s going to be a great evening honoring ARC’s founders, including a video message from 98-year-old ARC founder and current fall-of-famer Don Lerch.

Blue Diamond Growers

The tours feature crops not commonly found across the country—rice and almonds. A stop at Blue Diamond Growers will feature their Almond Innovation Center, a unique research facility. Blue Diamond Growers Corporate Communications Director Alicia Rockwell will talk about her work for the company and share her story about a coalition that launched a public relations campaign to fight the negative press about almonds growers’ use of water during the California drought. A visit to an almond grower will complete this portion of the tour. Then it’s off to find out all about how rice is produced and harvested. Of course, a visit to California would not be complete without a stop at a winery. Although we are finalizing which winery to choose,  be assured that there will be a vineyard and winery tour, with plenty of time for tasting.  Return from this great tour to enjoy the Golden ARC awards banquet at the hotel.

ARC conferences are unique because attendees experience a perfect mix of professional development training, a look at local commodities and an honest exchange about the challenges producers face, and unique tours with a PR slant. This is all mixed with a good sense of camaraderie and fun to make this ARC conference a must.

Meeting registration will be open soon.  Stay tuned!


Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame Induction of ARC Founders to be Held at Annual Meeting

By Kristi Gardner, ARC Staff

At the June Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) annual meeting in Sacramento, CA, the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame, sponsored by Agri Marketing magazine and ARC, will honor the original ARC founders on June 21.

The award recognizes lifetime contributions to public relations and the ARC. The ARC board determined last year to honor the founders at one time through the hall of fame. All of the founders are deceased, except for Don Lerch, who is 98, retired in Juno Beach, FL, and was inducted in the hall of fame the first year it was established by ARC, which was 2012. ARC was founded 63+ years ago.

ARC was founded at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Chicago in the spring of 1953. A group of 26 professionals serving in agricultural communications decided that continuing adverse publicity about American agriculture, especially about agricultural chemicals, merited an organization of professionals with experience and talents in public relations to tell agriculture’s positive story.

ARC was formed, and the group agreed to meet at least annually in conjunction with other existing agricultural organizations. At least two of the Founders, C. L. “Cap” Mast, Jr. and Roy Battles, served as ARC executive secretary. A special award, the ARC Founders’ Award, was established in 1974 to acknowledge excellence in agricultural public relations. At its height, ARC membership reached 200 members.

Following are the original ARC Founders:

Ladd Haystead, (First President)               Ed Lipscomb, (First VP)                  Lowell A. Kern

American Petroleum Institute                               National Cotton Council                         American Petroleum Institute

Frank B. Atchley                                               Donald G. Lerch, Jr.                         Roy Battles

Grocery Manufacturers Association                    Lerch & Company, Inc.                           National Grange

Lyle Liggett                                                         Carl Bender                                        Charles Dana Bennett

National Cattlemen’s Association                        Sperry Corporation                                 Farm Film Foundation

Max Chambers                                                  C.L. “Cap” Mast, Jr.                         William Foreman

Vegetable Growers Association                            Ag Consultant                                          National Cotton Council

Walter B. Garver                                              Herbert A. Graff                               Val E. Weyle

U.S. Chamber of Commerce                                 Ralston-Purina Company                      Nat’l Ag Chemicals Association

Floyd Keepers                                                   George Krieger                                 William S. Moreland

Barn Equipment Association                                Ethyl Corporation                                  Rutgers University

H.P. Quadland                                                   Glenn Sample                                   Ernest Steward

H.P. Quadland Company                                       Indiana Farm Bureau                           National Cotton Council

John J. Lacey                                                      Louis H. Wilson                              Dave O. Thompson, Sr.

American Farm Bureau Federation                     American Plant Food Council             Ag Consultant

John C. Davis                                                     Jack Sampier

Nat’l Council of Farmer Cooperatives                 Nat’l Livestock Producers Association

2017 Golden ARC Awards

Deadline to enter is April 15, 2017.

The Golden ARC Awards contest honors the stellar work created by professionals in the agricultural industry.  The format and requirements for the Golden ARC Awards are similar to other leading PR awards programs, based on best practices for public relations and public affairs campaigns and tactics.

Entries may be submitted until April 15, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EST with an entry fee of $175. Both ARC members and non-members may enter the competition. Non-members pay an additional $190 with the first entry, thereby becoming a member of the respected organization. New ARC members who have not entered in the past may contact Kristy Mach at or 952-758-5811 to set up a profile. This profile must be set up at least 24 hours before entries can be accepted.

Winners will gather and share in their accolades at the ARC annual meeting, June 20-22, in Sacramento, CA. The Golden ARC de Excellence award for the best all-around entry in the campaigns division will also be presented at the awards dinner.

The Golden ARC Awards Program began in 1990 and came to be recognized as the most esteemed award in the agricultural public relations industry. The restructured contest reflects the many hats worn by today’s PR practitioner – with categories recognizing everything from full campaigns to tactics such as media relations and innovative new uses of social media.

Additional information on the awards program, including, categories, judging criteria, eligibility, deadlines & fees, submission guidelines, online entry directions and the winners archive can be found here.

To enter the contest, access the BetterBNC site here.

ARC Scholarship

ARC is in its third year awarding a $1500 scholarship to college students seeking a career in ag communications after graduation.  This year, nearly 30 students applied for the scholarship – a record-setting number – and the committee is reviewing the applications and will soon select a recipient.

Past winners are:

2016 – JD Rosman, Oklahoma State University

2015 – Kate Griswold, University of Wisconsin

Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2017 ARC Scholarship winner.

ARC/Alltech – Encourage Students You Know to Apply

The Ag Relations Council is teaming up with Alltech to host the first ARC internship this summer.  This amazing opportunity includes a $4,000 paid internship and a $1,000 stipend to travel to Sacramento for the ARC Annual Meeting.  To date, however, no one has applied!  Staff has been sending weekly updates to state and national Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) advisors and student chapter presidents.  Tweets and Facebook posts tagging PRSSA and National ACT have been sent on a weekly basis as well.

ARC member Susanna Elliott of Alltech plans, among other traditional duties, to utilize the intern to assist with communications efforts surrounding its ONE: Alltech Ideas Conference, an event that attracts more than 3,000 leaders in agriculture from nearly 70 countries.

“We plan to have the intern write press releases, blogs, articles and social media posts,” Elliott says. “Alltech is a strong supporter of ag-related education. We are thrilled to host the intern.”

Encourage students you know to apply.  All the details on the internship and application can be found here.


Webinars Update

By John Blue, Truffle Media

ARC kicked off its webinar season with some great presentations. In December we were treated to an update by Malissa Fritz, CHS, Inc., on the Cenex brand campaigns. If you were at the 2016 ARC conference, you may remember our stop at CHS for a series of presentations, with one of them being Malissa.

View the webinar:

In January, ARC’s own Daren Williams with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association provided a behind the scenes look at how to respond to an international organization saying meat is bad.

View the webinar:

The February webinar brought us a look at a long-running public relations campaign called CommonGround. Missy Morgan, Osborn Barr, shared how the campaign has evolved and what changes have been made to help it be relevant seven years after it started.

View the webinar:

And coming up March 16 will be Cindy Cunningham, National Pork Board, and Daren Williams, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, sharing approaches to help PR professionals stay ahead of a major national issue.  They will help clarify what role communication plays in the event of a crisis, using Foot and Mouth Disease as an example.

View the webinar:

To access the webinars, click the links and provide this password (case sensitive): ARCPR7827 


ARC Silent Auction at AMS Preview

 The ARC Silent auction at the 2016 Ag Media Summit in St. Louis raised nearly $4,000.  The funds benefit youth programs and is split between ARC and AMS.  In total, nearly 50 generous items were donated, and a big thank you to all ARC board members, each of whom contributed at least one item to the auction.

The Ag Relations Council receives an incredible amount of visibility from the auction at AMS, which adds to the monetary value it produces for our youth initiatives.

Items receiving the highest bids included techie gadgets, university apparel and gift baskets.   Consider donating an item valued at $50 or more ‑‑ a sweatshirt, basket of school-related items, stadium blanket, accessories, etc. The ACT chapter who brings in the most money for their item will win $250 for their chapter. We expect both students and professionals to be out-bidding one another on these fabulous items!  Feel free to promote to your alumni to generate excitement before people get to Snowbird Resort in Utah..

The 2017 Ag Media Summit takes place at the Snowbird Resort in Utah and we look forward to receiving your incredible donations.


New ARC Members in 2017

By Kyle Wieskus, Membership Director

Alltech, Inc. – Jennifer Norrie, On-Farm Communications Manager

Alltech, Inc. – Justin  Ellis, Brand and Species Marketing Manager

American Farm Bureau Federation – Ray Atkinson, Director of Strategic Communications

California Farm Bureau Federation – Dave Kranz, Communications/ News Division Manager

Charleston Orwig – Allison Hartman, Junior Account Executive, Public Relations

Gardner & Gardner Communications – Kristi Gardner, Associate

Honey Creek Media – Jamie Johansen, Owner

Kansas Farm Bureau – Sandi Cowdin, Creative Services Manager

Kansas Farm Bureau – Meagan Cramer, Director of Communications & Marketing

Kansas Farm Bureau – John Schlageck, Senior Editor/ Writer

Kansas Farm Bureau – Sheridan Wimmer, Communications and Social Media Manager

Louisiana Farm Bureau – Carey Martin, Director of Public Relations

Louisiana Farm Bureau – Avery Davidson, Assistant Director of Public Relations

Louisiana Farm Bureau  – Kristen Oaks, Social Media Specialist

Merek Animal Health – Kelly Goss, Director, NA Communications

Ohio Farm Bureau – Amanda Domsitz, Communications Specialist

Ohio Farm Bureau – Patricia Petzel, Vice President, Communications

Ohio Farm Bureau – Lynn Snyder, Sr. Director, Communications

PadillaCRT – Megan Fairchild Anderson, Senior Director

Perfect Fit Presentations, LLC – Dan Manternach, President

The Pollack PR Marketing Group – William Ostedt

United Ag – Maribel Ochoa, Membership & Marketing Manager

United Ag – Laura Leahy, Membership & Marketing Manager

U.S. Grains Council – Julia Debes, Communications Manager

The Following Companies are Taking Advantage of the Young Professional Program:

The young professional program is a free member (35 years and under) for every two paid memberships by your organization.  If you have any questions or to take advantage of this offer, contact Kyle Wieskus, membership director.

·    Alltech, Inc.

·    American Farm Bureau Federation

·    Charleston Orwig

·    Gardner and Gardner Communiations

·    Kansas Farm Bureau

·    PadillaCRT

·    Ohio Farm Bureau

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