Posted by: admin on January 20, 2021

Posted in: Newsletter

Message from the President

All the technology in the world will not stop your brain from publishing a typo. Last month, I was updating the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) website with several interviews and discovered I misspelled agriculture as “agricuture.” After a while, your eyes glaze over the misspelled words, you hit publish and the world now knows the truth about your spelling. 😊

These interviews (list below) provide some insights from inside and outside agriculture. I was able to learn a few new things and was also reminded of other aspects of public relations and communications.

These interviews will be published on: You are getting access to these early as members of ARC.

First up is Christopher S. Penn, co-founder and chief data scientist with Penn talks about marketing and public relations, his approach to producing content (See the Video-First Transmedia Content Framework) and he provides a little dip into machine learning.

Audio link: and transcript with audio playback:

Next is a conversation with Melanie “Mel” Hasler, an ag comm student at Purdue University. She shares her thoughts on media, tips on the apps she finds useful, and why she uses social media. Audio link: and transcript with audio playback:

Lastly, we have a conversation with our very own Daren Williams, past ARC president, former beef guy and now senior director, global communications at Almond Board of California. He shares his history in public relations, from being on Senator Bob Dole’s (R-KS) 1988 presidential campaign to working at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association during the pink slime issue, and helping expand the story about almonds with the Almond Board of California. Audio link: and transcript with audio playback:

We’re developing this year’s ARC webinar series and it will be published on the ARC website shortly.


Stay well and do good work,

John Blue

ARC President 2019-2021


Orwig provides major endowment gift to ARC Foundation

Lyle Orwig, founder of Charleston|Orwig, now rebranded as C.O.nxt, has generously fully funded the Agricultural Relations Council/C.O.nxt Scholarship Program with a recent contribution of $75,000.

A long-time champion of agricultural public relations/public affairs, Orwig is a founding inductee of the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Agricultural Relations Council and Agri Marketing magazine. He has been an ARC member for decades and his former agency has been active in the organization through the years.

“The Foundation can now invest this and earn additional dollars for the endowment,” said Orwig. “We hope that the returns at some point will allow the ARC Foundation to increase the value of the scholarship each year and become even more meaningful for the recipients.”

The scholarship program has honored seven students since it was re-instituted in 2015.

“This is an extremely generous gift and will help the ARC Foundation immensely,” said Kristy Mach, ARC executive director. “Lyle’s generosity through the years from a time, talent and financial commitment cannot be measured. We are thrilled with this gift and know that Lyle remains committed to the mission of ARC.”

The ARC Foundation established the endowment a couple years ago, with major commitments from Orwig, along with Gardner & Gardner Communications, through a financial gift from Den and Sandy Gardner. Den managed ARC through his company for 10 years. His firm annually underwrites for ARC the Gardner & Gardner Communications Internship Program.

ARC plays a key role in increasing the professionalism of its members through its annual meeting, regular webinars, Golden ARC Awards and more. “This is a vital organization for our industry,” added Orwig. “We encourage other leaders in the industry to step forward and be regular funders of this foundation and the endowments.”

Gardner noted that ARC nearly disbanded a dozen years ago. Now it has about 200 members and recently had its largest number of entries in its awards program in decades. “ARC is strong today because a handful of public relations (PR) professionals stepped up many years ago to revitalize the organization,” he said. “Now it’s time to take that next step in its journey to provide leadership in ag PR.”

The ARC Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Other regular contributors to the endowment are Agri Marketing magazine (led by Lynn Henderson), through an annual contribution to the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame, G&S Business Communications, Truffle Media, Jim Evans and Richard Howell.

ARC continues its search for endowment partners for such annual professional development efforts as:

  • Its webinar series
  • The Golden ARC Awards
  • The Founders Award
  • Keynote speakers at ARC’s annual meeting

For more information on how to participate in the ARC endowment effort, please contact ARC Executive Director Kristy Mach at: or 952-758-5811.

ARC unveils upcoming webinars

Join your fellow ag public relations professionals for the February Agricultural Relations Council’s (ARC) webinars.

“Your work is great, but is your contest entry?” headlines the Feb. 2 webinar, 11 a.m.-noon Central time. By attending this webinar, you will learn how to take your ag communications contest entries to the next level. Three highly regarded panelists will share advice on preparing and packaging award-winning entries.

Daren Williams – senior director, global communications at Almond Board of California

Tina Charpentier – senior vice president, environmental sciences and agriculture at Padilla

Bob Giblin – owner, R. Giblin Marketing & Communications LLC

“Bob has decades-long experience with the Golden ARC Awards contest, as well as PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) contests,” said ARC Executive Director Kristy Mach. “Tina and Daren have been awarded the Golden ARC de Excellence by ARC and have extensive experience of how to put together winning contest entries.”

Register Here

On Feb. 18, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Central time, Jessica Best, Barkley vice president of data-driven marketing, will deliver “Great e-mail marketing in 2021 and beyond – tips and approaches to creating, delivering and understanding the ROI of email marketing.”

“E-mail is still a core channel for campaigns to reach people,” Mach explained. “Jessica will share information about best practices of e-mail marketing, tools to help support e-mail campaigns and what to look out for when running e-mail marketing.”

Register Here


ARC seeks scholarship applicants

The Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) and C.O.nxt launched its 2021 scholarship application program. ARC/C.O.nxt will award one, $1,500 scholarship. The scholarship is generously funded by an endowment to the ARC Foundation from Lyle Orwig, founder of Charleston|Orwig.

Qualified applicants are college students studying ag communications and/or public relations, with an interest in working for agribusiness companies, marketing communications agencies, national/state/regional commodity or general farm organizations, and other positions that promote agriculture. Additionally, applicants must have an overall grade point average of at least 2.5 and 3.0 in the major area of study (4.0 scale). The scholarship will be awarded through the bursar’s office at the recipient’s college or university.

Application requirements include providing one academic/professional reference, typed application, writing/editing sample, resume, transcript and completed scholarship application form.

Click here for more scholarship submission details. Submit ARC scholarship applications and supplemental materials by March 15. The ARC/C.O.nxt scholarship recipient will be notified by April 15.

Direct ARC scholarship-related questions to: Sandra O’Rourke at: or 952-758-5811.


Enter the newly revised Golden ARC Awards contest

There’s no doubt that 2020 will remain a memorable year for decades to come. Speaking of memorable, what memorable tactics and campaigns did you create this past year?

Enter those memorable public relations tools in the 2021 Golden ARC (Agricultural Relations Council) Awards contest. Entries are due April 12.

To get a little edge on the competition, attend the Feb. 2 ARC webinar “Your work is great, but is your contest entry?” Click here for more webinar details.

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.

To better reflect the broad scope of contemporary public relations activities, a small group of ARC members revamped and updated many Golden ARC Awards Contest categories. A complete list of the revised categories, reflecting the evolution of agricultural public relations and with an added focus on social media, can be found here. Click here to learn about contest requirements.

Please note that entrants must obtain login information at least 24 hours prior to entering the competition. Contact Contest Manager Sandra O’Rourke ( or 952-758-5811) to obtain login credentials or for more information about the contest.


Golden ARC Award Winner: Special Events

Idaho Potato Commission – The Idaho® Potato Hotel
Provided by EvansHardy+Young, Inc.

We asked EvansHardy+Young the following questions about the winning project, “The Idaho Potato Hotel.”

Please briefly describe your winning project.
A little background first: The renowned, Big Idaho® Potato itself is a 6-ton spud made of steel, plaster and concrete, and was built in 2012 in celebration of the Idaho Potato Commission’s (IPC) 75th anniversary. It traveled the roads of America on a 60-foot-long semi-hauler truck for eight years, making high-profile appearances and becoming a sensation in towns across the country. However, the giant spud wasn’t built to withstand 175,000 miles of traveling. After seven years, the russet was replaced with a sturdier fiberglass spud. The question was, what to do with the old one? The unexpected and highly creative answer: Turn it into a hotel!

Kristie Wolfe, a former Tater Team member who traveled with the truck for two years, asked IPC if she could have the potato and turn it into a tiny hotel. IPC couldn’t turn down the odd but intriguing request. Plus, how else could they dispose of a 6-ton potato? Kristie found the perfect site in south Boise, pulled permits, built the foundation, relocated the Big Potato, furnished it and listed it for rent on Airbnb. Since its grand opening in 2019, the Big Idaho Potato Hotel has become one of the most fascinating Airbnb rentals in the world.

How did you create PR (public relations) for this project?
We generated PR for IPC and the Big Idaho Potato Hotel launch by hosting a kick-off event at the hotel, complete with targeted press releases, invitations to local media and influencers, and hired an Associated Press (AP) photographer. The launch event took place on Earth Day, Monday, April 22, 2019. To leverage this nationally recognized day, features of the recycled, eco-friendly hotel were highlighted in a press release and communicated during the event. At the event, IPC President Frank Muir presented Kristie with a welcome sign that tells the history of the Big Idaho® Potato Hotel. The sign now stands in front of the hotel for visitors to read. Guests were invited to tour the hotel and silo (where the bathroom is located), and interview Frank and Kristie. The AP photographer uploaded six photos to the wire by 11 a.m. Mountain time.

What were the results?
The launch of the Big Idaho® Potato Hotel surpassed all expectations. Two weeks after the event, more than 850 million media impressions had been generated with coverage in all 50 states and in 24 countries, including high-profile placements like Live! With Kelly and Ryan, USA Today and People Magazine, while also receiving coverage on more than 100 local TV stations. The event created a $1 million value in advertising equivalency and most importantly, IPC was mentioned in 90 percent of all articles. The opening of the Big Idaho Potato Hotel has proven to be a great way to reinforce the message that Idaho is the “home” of America’s favorite potatoes!


2019 Golden ARC Award Winner: Digital and Social Media: Video

Keep It Simple Spencer!
Provided by the Almond Board of California


If you are feeling adventurous and want to test the temperament of a California almond grower, just slip the word “water” into a conversation, sit back and watch what happens.

Water is a contentious word in California ag. For years, the state has felt the tension between people living in coastal cities and farmers in the Central Valley. Throw in the salmon fisherman and tiny Delta Smelt. Trying to find a balance between people, food and the environment has been a challenge, particularly in drought years.

But if you want to start a positive conversation with a grower about water, talk to them about how they can increase yields and profits with a few simple tweaks to their irrigation system and management. Even better, have the conversation in an orchard and show them how to do it. Cue the Almond Board of California (ABC) Industry Communications team and in-house irrigation expert, Spencer Cooper, and put him on camera, mustache and all. Then create a YouTube channel to host a series of short, simple, hands-on tips for growers. This is “The Irrigation Station.”


Foreseeing a future with reduced water supplies, almond growers invested in newer technologies, improved irrigation practices and strategic storage efforts to increase water use efficiency – or what we call “more crop per drop.” Over the past 20 years, growers have reduced the amount of water required to grow a pound of almonds by 33 percent, an improvement made largely due to increased adoption of new technology and practices.

Progressive by nature, almond growers didn’t stop there. In the summer of 2018, the industry adopted its Almond Orchard 2025 Goals. One of the four goals states that growers are committed to reducing the amount of water it takes to grow a pound of almonds by an additional 20 percent by 2025.

To support growers in implementing efficient water management practices, the Almond Board of California hired a local irrigation specialist, Spencer Cooper, to provide “boots on the ground” support. But with more than 7,000 growers in the Valley and only one man on the ground, it would take years to reach every grower, so ABC created nine episodes of “The Irrigation Station,” hosted by Cooper and featuring leading irrigation experts.

The idea behind the video series was to take a difficult subject – water efficiency and irrigation management – and detailed topics – how to conduct ground truthing and check your irrigation system performance – and present them to growers in a short, compelling and sometimes quirky way.


As a teaser to promote videos – and introduce their charismatic host – ABC debuted an “outtakes” video that foreshadowed the entertaining approach to addressing serious topics in the series. The videos were then released throughout the growing season that coincided with the almond lifecycle and irrigation decisions growers need to make at that time.

One of the key goals of the video series is to promote the Almond Irrigation Improvement Continuum, a tool for irrigation management developed by the Almond Board. The Continuum tool was featured prominently in each episode, answering three key questions about a variety of irrigation practices and tools:

  • Why is this practice or concept important to me as a grower?
  • How do I implement this practice on my operation?
  • Where do I go to get additional information about this topic?


Using a “surround sound” approach, ABC reached growers through a variety of channels, including Facebook, radio and print. Results reported in the Golden ARC Award entry included:

  • Facebook posts featuring these videos performed incredibly well. The latest video shared, on the Pressure Chamber, reached 30,088 people and had an Estimated Ad Recall Lift (estimate of the number of additional people who may remember seeing your ads, if asked, within two days) of 2,870 people among an audience heavily refined to ensure we are reaching eyes in almond-growing regions.
  • In ABC’s “In the Orchard” eNewsletter, the videos reached 8,900+ subscribers and drove solid traffic (consistently among top-three content pieces from January 2019 through April 2020 at 876 total unique clicks, or on average 40 percent of all clicks for those issues).
  • Requests for copies of the Continuum resource outpaced supplies on hand and 150 copies were distributed in 2019.

Two years after the launch in January 2019, the Irrigation Station YouTube video series continues to be a resource for almond growers, garnering more than 10,000 views to date.


Golden ARC Award Winner: Digital and Social Media: Smartphone or Tablet Application

American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture – My American Farm STEM app
Provided by American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, Bailey Corwine

For today’s crop of mobile-native elementary school children, the idea of a cell phone app is nothing new. However, the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, in conjunction with Corteva Agriscience, introduced a mobile app that may feature a novel concept for some children: agriculture connected to their science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educational content.

The My American Farm STEM app includes four free educational games, which can all be played offline, to help kids from pre-K through fifth grade learn about various agriculture and STEM topics. The games include Keys to Stewardship, which focuses on science and environmental conservation, The Great Seed Search, a game about technology, Thrive, an engineering game, and a math game called Operation Peanut Butter.

The app is being honored with a 2020 Golden ARC Award for the category Digital and Social Media: Smartphone or Tablet Application. This is an honor the Foundation for Agriculture is especially proud of, according to Daniel Meloy, American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture executive director.

“We are honored to have the My American Farm STEM app recognized by the Agricultural Relations Council with a Golden ARC Award,” said Meloy. “Especially this year, it is important for us to provide quality ag resources like this app for kids who are learning at home.”

With an increased focus on digital resources due to the transition of online learning for many students, the broader My American Farm platform can be a valuable resource for parents, educators and children alike. The My American Farm app’s companion website also features more than 100 free educator resources, such as ag lesson plans, activity sheets, comics and a large selection of other agricultural-themed games.

The app was created in April 2019 and the website in 2011 to help meet the growing demand for STEM education resources and are geared toward third through fifth grade students. My American Farm can be downloaded from the Apple App store or the Google Play store.

Parents and educators clamoring for more resources can also access the Foundation for Agriculture’s weekly at-home educational activities, each week around a specific agricultural theme. Past themes have included Christmas trees, traditional Thanksgiving menu items and pumpkins.

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture was founded in 1967 with the mission of building awareness, understanding and a positive public perception of agriculture through education. The Foundation focuses on creating resources, offering educational opportunities, publishing accurate agriculture books and sparking curiosity about where food, fiber and fuel originates.


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