Posted by: Kristy on July 29, 2018

Posted in: Annual Meeting, Member-benefit, Newsletter, Updates

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Catching ARC President Rebecca Colnar in the tobacco fields during the misty pre-rain tour, sporting her Syngenta-sponsored ARC t-shirt.

ARC President’s Message

By Rebecca Colnar, ARC President

I’m sure I speak for all of the ARC members who rated our ARC Annual Conference in June in Kentucky with a big “10.” We had fantastic, timely speakers (see John Blue’s column, below) and an amazing and educational (and fun) ag tour.

How often do you get to ride across tobacco field in a wagon being pulled by a tractor (in a rain storm, no less), have the opportunity to see up-close future stakes-winning racehorses or tour a unique bourbon distillery including generous samples? There was a lot of learning. I commend ARC members for their curious minds.

At the sessions as well as on the tours, excellent questions were asked and the presenters and tour guides provided knowledgeable answers. If you missed the conference you also missed a terrific reception at the red7e ad agency which generously donated its space for a post-session reception Wednesday evening. Of course, my favorite aspect of ARC—the networking—did not disappoint as I met new attendees and reconnected with other colleagues who are also good friends.

ARC President Rebecca Colnar poses questions to the Kentucky ag panel at the 2018 ARC Annual Meeting.

I’d like to thank all of our sponsors for making this conference possible; please see the complete list elsewhere in this issue.

Although the summer conference is the highlight of the ARC year, there are plenty of ARC activities in the near future. I’m pleased that all of our ARC board members have donated either money or items for the ARC/AAEA Silent Auction at the Ag Media Summit in Phoenix in early August. This is a good fundraiser, with ARC splitting the profit with AAEA.

In addition, ARC is sponsoring a reception for agricultural public relations pros inside the Beltway August 5, at the Dubliner on Capital Hill in Washington D.C. As the year continues, our webinar guru John Blue has pertinent webinars planned in the upcoming months.

ARC continues to grow. Our membership numbers are more than 180, and we had a record number of attendees at our annual conference as well as a near-record number of Golden ARC Award entries. We are seeing new faces at our conference and are hearing from more members who would like to get involved in our organization.

If you attended our conference and loved it, please tell others to climb aboard for our 2019 event. That conference is slated for Kansas City, June 18-20, 2019, but before you say, “Been There, Done That” we will show you a Kansas City you haven’t seen before.

I hope everyone has a wonderful rest of the summer and please stay in touch with ARC, whether it’s about sponsorship opportunities, memberships, conference workshop suggestions, volunteering or just to say hello.

Warm regards to all involved with ARC.


Final Chance to Donate to the 2018 AMS/ARC/ACE Silent Auction!

By Kyle Wieskus, ARC Membership Director


Each year, the Ag Media Summit (AMS) partners with the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) on the silent auction at AMS to raise funds for student programming and activities at AMS and student scholarships through ARC. For 2018, we are excited to also be partnering with ACE (Association for Communication Excellence). The auction will be held in just a few days, on Aug. 6.

It’s not too late! Please consider making a donation for folks to bid on, while at the Ag Media Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona. ARC members always make up the majority of silent auction donors – let’s do it again in 2018!

Need some ideas? … Tech gadgets. Trips. Sports. Local fare. Handmade jewelry. Designer purses. Artwork.

If your summer is moving quickly and you just don’t have the time to get out there and find a donation, we would be happy to do the shopping for you.  Just let us know how much you would like to donate and we will take care of the rest! (Suggested cash donation is $50-100.)

We are almost out of time – but we still need your donations!  If you are attending AMS – please bring your item with you.  If you plan on shipping your item – it needs to arrive to the hotel in Arizona by August 4th.  Please contact Kyle Wieskus at if you are willing to donate. Kyle will send you the donation form to collect the details of your item and send shipping instructions.

Thank you!


Call Washington! Spread the good news …

ARC is sponsoring a happy hour for members of the Washington Ag Communicators on Aug. 15 at the Dubliner on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Several ARC members will describe our organization and solicit new members, who will be generously comped for the remainder of 2018 membership dues.





Now that our Golden ARC Awards contest is complete, it’s our turn to return the favor and judge PRSA Maryland’s Best in Maryland Awards!

We are looking for 15-20 professionals to judge the contest. This is a great way to see what others are doing in the industry, and help us gain new ideas, best practices or even “what NOT to-dos!”

Judges can be new to the PR world, but we are also looking for senior professionals as well.

The timeline is as follows:

  • By September 1 – Commit to judging by simply emailing Kristy Mach at
  • September 21 – Judging begins
  • October 12 – Judging deadline

Please enlist any colleagues or PR friends as well. The more judges we receive, the lighter the load for everyone!

Contact Kristy Mach ( or 952-758-5811) with any questions.


ARC Annual Business Meeting Held in Louisville

By Kristy Mach, ARC Associate Director


ARC President Rebecca Colnar presided over the annual business meeting in Louisville during the annual conference. The business meeting serves as a way for the board of directors to update the membership on actions taken over the last fiscal year of the organization.

The Ag Relations Council is financially strong, despite a bit of a tough fiscal year for the organization. The annual conference attendance was up compared to previous years, which helped the organization’s bottom line. The board and staff continue to responsibly manage the budget and rely on sponsorship, membership, Golden ARC Awards entry fees, and conference attendance as the largest areas of revenue for ARC.

Colnar thanked the sponsors for their continued support of the organization, which brought in $18,000 in 2018.  Please thank the following sponsors:

  • Agri-Marketing
  • G&S Business Communications
  • National Pork Board
  • National Crop Insurance Services
  • MorganMyers
  • FLM Harvest
  • Swanson Russell
  • Bader Rutter
  • Syngenta
  • National Cotton Council
  • Rabo AgriFinance
  • Look East
  • Charleston│Orwig
  • MustangRED Communications
  • Cow Camp Communications
  • Kentucky Farm Bureau
  • Alltech

Membership, the cornerstone of ARC, continues to grow and there are currently 188 members.  A successful Young Professionals program was rolled out in 2017-2018 and garnered 17 new members as a result. State farm bureaus and commodity groups, whose national association is already a member, receive a discounted membership. As a part of that initiative, 19 new members joined. The board is committed to ideas that help grow and attract young people to ARC.

On Aug. 15, a group of Washington, D.C. ag communicators will meet for a happy hour sponsored by ARC. The goal is to grow ARC’s presence with national commodity groups and ag comm professionals working and living in D.C.

The successful ARC webinar series, managed by board member John Blue, educated members and non-members and brought in more than $750 in revenue for the organization. John is already looking forward to more great offerings well into 2019.

Some ARC Board members enjoy dinner before getting down to business in Louisville.

A new board of directors was voted in during the business meeting. Your 2018/2019 board of directors for the association and the ARC Foundation is:

  • Rebecca Colnar, Montana Farm Bureau, President
  • Daren Williams, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Past President
  • John Blue, Truffle Media, First Vice President
  • Sally Behringer, MustangRED Communications, Second Vice President
  • Laurie Langstraat, National Crop Insurance Services, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Sarah Kolell, Rabo AgriFinance, Director
  • Kevin Waetke, National Pork Board, Director
  • Cyndie Shearing, American Farm Bureau Federation, Director
  • Lori Hallowell, Bader Rutter, Director (new)

Lori Hallowell, Bader Rutter, was elected to the board of directors. Deron Johnson, FLM Harvest, is leaving the board of directors after many years of service.

ARC continues to recognize greatness in the industry through the Golden ARC Awards program and the Agricultural Hall of Fame. The silent auction at the Ag Media Summit (AMS) also continues to be well received and is a great awareness and fundraiser for ARC. Articles on those successful programs are found later in this newsletter.

During the annual ARC Foundation business meeting, financials and foundation programs were discussed. The foundation has been conservative in spending and carried over more than $7,500 from previous years.

The board awarded one $1,500 scholarship to Jane Hulse of Ohio State University.

The second annual ARC internship was hosted by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA.) Madeleine Bezner, Texas A&M, received a $4,000 stipend for her work with NCBA and a $1,000 travel stipend to attend the meeting in Sacramento. Please read the article Madeleine wrote about her experience elsewhere in the newsletter. The internship is generously funded by a $3,000 contribution from Den & Sandy Gardner and Gardner & Gardner Communications. NCBA funded the additional $2,000. Later this year, we’ll be searching for the 2019 intern host.

At the close of the business meetings, Colnar thanked Deron Johnson for his commitment to ARC through volunteer efforts with the NAMA/ARC Reception at NAFB Trade Talks, and his many years of service on the board of directors.


Golden ARC Awards Banquet 2018 a Success!

By Kristy Mach, ARC Assistant Director


Winners of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) 2018 Golden ARC Awards Contest were announced June 21 at the organization’s annual professional development meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. Recipients of this year’s 34 Golden ARC Awards and 11 Merit Awards join an elite group of highly-respected leaders in agricultural public relations in the elite awards program.

For the seventh straight year the Golden ARC de Excellence Award was awarded. The 2018 winner was National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) for the campaign titled “‘Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.’ Rebranding campaign.” This year’s selected entry was from the Campaigns Division, Organization or Corporate Reputation category.  NCBA credited Meghan Pusey, Martin Roth, Season Solorio, Alisa Harrison for their work on the campaign. In addition, NCBA took home three Golden ARC Awards.

Other organizations and companies stepping into the winner’s circle included American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and the AFBF Foundation for Agriculture, earning six Golden ARC Awards and one Merit Award; Osborn Barr with four Golden ARC Awards; and GS Business Communications with three Golden ARC Awards and one Merit Award.

Other big winners included Illinois Soybean Association, with two Golden ARC Awards and two Merit Awards; and FLM+ with two Golden ARC Awards and one Merit Award. Bader Rutter, Charleston Orwig and Ketchum received two Golden ARC Awards each.

“The quality of this year’s entries again surpassed previous years’ submissions, and judges provided valuable comments and critiques for each submission to enable entrants to continue to improve their craft,” said Kristy Mach, associate director of ARC. “The Golden ARC Awards Contest is the only award competition directed to agricultural marketing communications professionals that is not judged by our peers in agriculture.  The competition is judged by public relations professionals who are not directly or indirectly linked to the entries.”

This year’s competition was judged by members of the Maine Public Relations Association. “The judges focused on a number of objectives including audience analysis, creativity, execution and campaign results, especially measurability,” continued Mach.

Originated in 1990, the Golden ARC Awards Contest recognizes the best and brightest in agricultural public relations, and is open to both ARC and non-ARC members. The categories reflect the broad scope of contemporary public relations activities.

The format and requirements for the Golden ARC awards are similar to other leading public relations awards programs, based on best practices for public relations campaigns and tactics. More information is available at the ARC website,

A complete winners’ listing of the 2018 Golden ARC Awards Contest is here.


2018 Golden ARC Award Winners at the ARC Annual Meeting, Louisville, Kentucky.


ARC Hall of Fame Inductees include Jean Merry, Carroll Merry and Jeff Altheide

2018 Ag PR Hall of Fame Winners Inducted

By Amy Keith McDonald, ARC member and awards banquet emcee


Three deserving agricultural public relations professionals were honored by their induction to the agricultural public relations Hall of Fame. Long-time ARC members and innovative PR experts Jeff Altheide, Carroll Merry and Jean Merry were selected as the 2018 honorees.

ARC members at the 2018 Annual Meeting enjoyed learning more about each recipient, and seeing images of their “brand” through the past decades.

The Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame is sponsored through the generosity of AgriMarketing magazine and the ARC Foundation.

Think of who you would like to see join this list of honorees. Next year’s 2019 Hall of Fame Nominations will be due March 15, 2019. This award is given annually to agricultural public relations professionals who have made significant lifetime contributions to the industry. Nominees must be a current or past member of ARC to be considered.



Editor’s Note: From the 2018 Agricultural Relations Council Annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, Colleen Parr Dekker and Megan Kuhn with Elanco share insights on consumers and how they view trust in agriculture.


“Who Does the Consumer Trust?
Breaking Through in a Post-Truth World”

By John Blue, Truffle Media


Key takeaways from the “trust in agriculture” presentation at the ARC annual meeting:

  1. In an effort to create more transparency for consumers, negative labels and absence claims are actually generating more confusion and fatigue. They want to be told what’s right, not what’s wrong,
  2. There is a strong consumer preference for positive labels, and
  3. There is still a disconnect between food and agriculture messages and communication.

Going deeper:

  • Use emotional language that engages audiences in a discussion – not a debate – and follows with the right amount of credible information designed to help them see all sides of the conversation.
  • To get an audience listening, start with healthy animals.
  • Today consumers believe the industry can — and is — evolving, and they want to hear more.




Editor’s Note: From the 2018 Agricultural Relations Council Annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, Philip Brown, Deph Digital Media, shared insights on how building community is key to engagement in Facebook.


“Is There Really A Facebook Apocalypse?”

By John Blue, Truffle Media


In his “Is There Really A Facebook Apocalypse?” presentation, Philip offered these key thoughts:

  1. Facebook is not going away any time soon,
  2. Build a community, not an audience, and
  3. Create content that is conversational and not attention grabbing.

Actions to consider in Facebook:

  • Use the 80 / 20 rule – 80% native content, 20% owned content,
  • Go live (video) to get 6X engagement,
  • Don’t post click bait, and
  • Be choosy with what you are sharing.

Go deeper:



Editor’s Note: Our 2018 ARC Intern was selected this recent Spring and is spending her summer in Colorado at NCBA, contributing to their public relations efforts. As part of her “prize package,” the winning student Madeleine Bezner also was awarded a working trip to the ARC Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to contributing to photography, organization and other activities during the meeting, we asked her to provide her reflection of the annual meeting and any value she believes it offers students nearing graduation.


Intern reflection: 2018 Agricultural Relations Council Annual Meeting

By Madeleine Bezner, ARC 2018 Intern

ARC 2018 Intern Winner Madeleine Bezner, Texas A&M University, pitched in with her photography skills at the Louisville annual meeting.

As I traveled home from the 2018 Agricultural Relations Council Annual Meeting, I couldn’t help thinking thoughts of satisfaction and motivation. Quality professional development was delivered, and the networking opportunities were second to none.

However, what struck me most about the ARC meeting were the people. From my observations, ARC has evolved into a community of driven individuals who are passionate about agricultural public relations and, most importantly, are committed to finding the best practices to bridge the disconnect between consumers and agriculture. Furthermore, ARC members support and encourage one another professionally, which I found admirable.

Key takeaways included research on consumer trust, tips for engaging with consumers, innovative social media tactics, perspectives on Kentucky agriculture and an overview of ARC history. Above all, I witnessed recognition of highly-respected leaders within agricultural public relations.

After learning ARC’s values, listening to guest speakers and engaging with fellow attendees, it became evident to me that I truly was “stepping into the winner’s circle,” cue said satisfaction and motivation.

As I embark on my career, I am grateful I had the opportunity to learn the value of ARC and I look forward to staying involved. Thank you to ARC for allowing me such a unique internship and thank you to National Cattlemen’s Beef Association for an outstanding learning experience.




Look Who’s Talking …


While post-2018 ARC annual meeting evaluations were glowing … we were exceptionally pleased to hear from a longtime and loyal ARC member and past president, Warren Clark, of CCI Marketing. Warren, unable to attend this year’s meeting himself, has been quick to promote ARC through the years, and share with potential members the value he and others have reaped from the organization.

He shared with us a part of an unsolicited email he received, from a first-time ARC annual meeting attendee. In turn, we’re sharing with you.

“The ARC meeting was a great experience.  The speakers on the first day provided excellent information that would be useful for the beginner like me as well as the seasoned communication professional.  Despite some rain showers the farm tours turned out to be wonderful.  As a life long Kentuckian I was very proud of the showcase of all the different types of agricultural industry we have in the Commonwealth.  I cannot say enough about the people I met!  I walked in there not knowing anyone and left with some new friends.  Everyone was so welcoming.  I look forward to seeing all of them next year!”

Jenny Stelmach, Vice President of Communications
American Agri-Women



New Members Joining ARC Now Get Unexpected Advantage!

By Kyle Wieskus, ARC Membership Director

It’s not too late to become a new member of this fantastic organization!  If you join now, your membership dues will cover the rest of 2018 and ALL of 2019!  Contact Kyle Wieskus at or call the office at 952-758-2367

Record setting 62 new members for ARC in 2018! Welcome!

  • Almond Board of California:  Melissa Mautz
  • Almond Board of California:  Danielle Veenstra
  • Alltech:  Brain Lawless
  • American Agri-Women:  Jenny Stelmach
  • American Farm Bureau Federation:  Steven Kilger
  • American Farm Bureau Federation:  Shiloh Perry
  • American Farm Bureau Federation:  Elise Schafer
  • American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture: Leah Gibson
  • American Farm and Ranch TV:  Mike Borscow
  • Bio Huma Netics: Ray Speakman
  • California State University:  Alexis Ford
  • Cognet Consulting and Communications:  JP Cativiela
  • Colorado Corn Administrative Committee:  Kimberly Reddin
  • Corteva Agriscience:  Robyn Heine
  • Elanco:  Colleen Dekkar
  • Fastline Media Group:  Susan Artebaum
  • Fastline Media Group:  Lauri Young
  • Farm Journal:  Rhett Hawkins
  • G&S Business Communications:  Jeff Altheide
  • H.J. Baker:  Alissa Ann Smith
  • Iowa State University:  Megyn Walston
  • Karowski & Courage:  Glenn Karowski
  • KDL Communications:  Keena Lykins
  • Kentucky Beef Council:  Kiah Twisselman

    ARC annual meeting attendees often exchanged information during and after sessions … enabling ARC members to gather a host of useful tips.

  • Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association:  Carey Brown
  • Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association:  Emilee Wendorf
  • Kentucky Center for Agriculture & Rural Development:  Kati Bowman
  • LP & M Advertising:  Abby Young
  • Michael Torrey Associates:  Kerry Lynch
  • Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation:  Jodi Jetson
  • Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation:  Eric Bohl
  • Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council:  Christine Tew
  • MFA Incorporated:  Madison Byrd
  • National Cattlemen’s Beef Association:  Maddy Ruble
  • National Cotton Council:  Amy Mohundro Sarkissian
  • National Pork Board:  Claire Mosker
  • Osborn Barr: Jillian Baker
  • Osborn Barr:  Greta Bierbaum
  • Osborn Barr:  Tina Charpentier
  • PadillaCRT:  Jessica Hall
  • PadillaCRT:  Kimberly Huston
  • PadillaCRT:  Kyle Kaptusa
  • Paulsen Marketing:  Greg Guse
  • Paulsen Marketing:  Sarah Hill
  • Porter Novelli:  Jimmy Szczepanek
  • ProAg Crop Insurance:  Richard Stinson
  • Rabo AgriFinance:  Heather Stettner
  • Riverview LLP:  Natasha Mortensen
  • Sterling-Rice Group:  Laura Morin
  • Sterling-Rice Group:  Laurel Muir
  • Texas Cattle Feeders Association:  Maddy Bezner
  • Trans Ova Genetics:  Sara Kober
  • University of Missouri – Columbia:  Alexa Nordwald
  • University Trailer Corporation:  Scott Johnson
  • Utah Farm Bureau Federation:  Matt Hargreaves
  • Utah State University:  Corryn LaRue


We’re Buying the Drinks, But You’ll Have To Wait ’til November

ARC will again partner with the National Ag Marketing Association this year to offer hard-working (and hard-supervising) PR practitioners a few beverages during and after set-up at the National Association of Farm Broadcasters meeting in November.

Mark your calendars for the reception on Nov. 7, from 5-6 p.m. in the Garden Terrace of the Westin Crown Center in Kansas City.


Kansas City, Here We Come!



Mark your calendar for next year’s ARC Annual Meeting, which, believe it or not, we plan to make even better than this year’s spectacular event. Plan to join us!

ARC 2019

June 18-20, 2019

Kansas City, Missouri







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