2022 Fall ARC Light
Posted by: Christie Nissen on November 2, 2022
Posted in: Newsletter
New developments and growth in the Ag Relations Council!
Happy (almost) holiday season from the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC)! We have a lot of exciting developments to share with you in this edition of the ARC Light e-newsletter.
Ag Media Summit success
I had a great time representing ARC while at the Agricultural Media Summit in Raleigh, N.C., this summer. And I’m REALLY excited to report that we recruited 10 new student members during this event! Welcome to Reagan, Hannah, Fisher, Colin, Brooklyn, Sara, Daniela, Noralee, Schyler and Lauren!
New webinar series kicks off
Our new “Harvesting Knowledge” webinar series kicked off on Oct. 5 and was a tremendous success. More than 20 people attended the webinar, which featured agvocate Ryan Goodman (@BeefRunner) talking about the lessons to be learned from his successful “Pride in Agriculture” influencer campaign. You can listen to the webinar via the ARC website (www.agrelationscouncil.org) or through our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AgRelations).
Our next Harvesting Knowledge webinar will be on Dec. 7, at 12:30 p.m. Central time, and will feature Matthew Seeger. The topic is “Pre- and post-crisis risk communication revisited: Dynamic complexity and new approaches.” Stay tuned for registration details.
ARC internship program Is growing
During our October Board meeting, we approved a change to the ARC internship program. ARC interns will now also serve as a student board member, shadowing virtual board meetings to learn how an organizational board works, the benefits of being a board member and how to be an effective board member. It’s a terrific opportunity for students to not only experience an amazing internship with our partners at G&S Business Communications, but it’s also a great opportunity for leadership training.
Help get out the word to prospective interns. We need applicants! Get all of the information at the ARC website (www.agrelationscouncil.org) or by visiting the ARC Facebook page. Applications are due Dec. 31. Post the information on your social media platforms or e-mail the information to college students who might be interested. Please help in any way that you can. We appreciate it!
Mark your calendars for the ARC Annual Meeting
The 2023 ARC Annual Meeting is set for June 13-15, in Des Moines, Iowa. We’ll be staying at the Hotel Fort Des Moines. Your planning committee is already working hard to brainstorm ideas and put together a jam-packed itinerary of outstanding panels and as always, an incredible agricultural tour day. If you want to be part of the planning committee, contact me at email@example.com. We love volunteers and great ideas! Stay tuned for more details and information on how to register for the event.
ARC is always looking for new sponsors to help us bring more content, speakers and value to our members. If your organization would like more information on being an ARC sponsor, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to Kristy Mach at email@example.com.
Going to NAFB? Look me up
If you’ll be attending the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB) Annual Meeting and Trade Talk, I hope to see you there! I’m eager to see all of the ARC members who will be attending. Hopefully, we will have time to catch up and chat about all of the exciting developments with ARC.
Let’s grow ARC together!
Cell phone: 785-218-9759
ARC announces Annual Meeting Site: Des Moines, Iowa
On your 2023 calendar, block out June 13-15, for the Agricultural Relations Council Annual Meeting. ARC’s Annual Meeting will be held at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, Curio Collection by Hilton. Watch your e-mail and the ARC website for more information.
ARC intern shares her experience with Animal Agriculture Alliance
By Sydney Mitchell, 2022 ARC intern
This summer, I was a remote communications intern for the Animal Agriculture Alliance, a nonprofit that has the goal of safeguarding the future of animal agriculture. I was only able to have this amazing opportunity due to the ARC/Gardner & Gardner Communications internship program, which is a collaboration of the Agricultural Relations Council and host agency. In my case, the host was the Animal Agriculture Alliance.
This internship opportunity helped me learn more about communications work and gave me experience in my field. This experience has been extremely valuable in my college career and in searching for a full-time position.
As an intern, I spent most of my time on communications work. I assisted with social media, wrote blogs and press releases, and completed reports for internal and member-only communications.
One of my favorite parts of the internship was visiting the Alliance’s office in Arlington, Va. Working remote gave me a lot of flexibility, but it was great to see all of the team members in person and get to see the office. I was also able to meet the Alliance’s other two interns, who I worked with directly over the summer.
I worked closely with all of the Alliance’s team members and the other two interns. This experience allowed me to bond with the team members and become a true member of the team. This gave me experience in what a full-time position would be like. I was even able to lead the weekly staff meeting a few times.
One thing I loved about this internship was how willing the Alliance was to adapt this internship to what I wanted to work on. I chose to focus more on writing and was allowed to draft press releases, e-mail newsletters and more.
Another task I was given was monitoring current news. This allowed me to stay up to date on current issues in agriculture and occasionally do more research into certain topics.
I was also assigned to create social content. I was responsible for finding ideas for content, writing captions, creating new graphics, scheduling them to be posted across the Alliance’s social media platforms and finally, uploading new graphics and captions to the Alliance’s Resource Center so anyone can use them.
Throughout the internship, I received guidance and help from my team members. I was able to learn more about hot topics in agriculture, strengthen my writing skills and gain experience using communications programs like Sprout and Pardot.
If you are a college student, I highly recommend taking advantage of internship opportunities. Many internships are what you make of them and often you learn more through an internship than through many classes you take. Also, don’t be afraid to try multiple internships over your college career. You will probably learn something new at each one and make new connections that can help you further down the road.
I’m so grateful for this opportunity and had an amazing experience. I was able to make connections across the agriculture industry, learn new things and gain valuable career experience. It was only possible because of ARC’s internship program. This year, you can apply for the ARC internship for a position with G&S Business Communications. Interns receive the paid internship position, a stipend to attend ARC’s Annual Conference and a student advisor position on ARC’s board of directors. I highly suggest you submit your application!
Applications due December 31 for ARC internship
College undergraduates: Apply for the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC)/Gardner & Gardner Communications internship, being hosted by G&S Business Communications – in Raleigh, N.C., or Chicago – during the summer of 2023. Find internship details at: https://www.agrelationscouncil.org/students/arc-internship.
Students interested in applying for the ARC Internship with G&S Business Communications should fill out an application, available at: https://bit.ly/2023ARCGSinternship. Applications are due Dec. 31. The intern will be selected by Jan. 31.
Funding for this internship, which lasts 10 to 12 weeks, comes from a Gardner & Gardner Communications grant to the ARC Foundation. The internship is worth $5,000, with a $4,000 stipend paid to the intern and $1,000 to be used to attend the ARC annual professional development meeting, set for June 13-15, in Des Moines, Iowa. The intern will spend 90 percent of his/her time on G&S Business Communications projects and 10 percent to support and attend the ARC Annual Meeting.
Furthermore, this internship includes a student-advisor position with the ARC board of directors. The person in this position will help shape the ARC community on the needs of those just starting their agricultural public relations careers.
G&S Business Communications helps innovative companies change the world. The agency’s Agribusiness practice is a business cornerstone, where researchers, media strategists, storytellers and engagement experts meet each client at the intersection of business and communications. G&S’s strategies help B2B clients meet their business goals and the work produces meaningful results that moves markets. The agency’s commitment to measurement ensures that its employees are constantly learning and improving to make programs better. With a global staff of 140-plus people, who operate primarily from four offices in New York, Raleigh, N.C., Chicago and Basel, Switzerland, G&S offers its clients a global network of support through PROI Worldwide partners.
Golden ARC Award Winner: Golden ARC de Excellence and Issues Management
Battling A Bug to Improve America’s Soybean Profitability and Sustainability
Provided by MorganMyers
America’s farmers are waging war against the soybean cyst nematode (SCN) to improve profitability and sustainability by harvesting more soybeans from fewer acres. These parasitic roundworms feed on soybean roots, robbing 23 percent of the plant’s yield potential, requiring farmers to plant more acres to feed the world. Research showed many farmers were unaware of SCN’s resistance to their management until The SCN Coalition, a public/private partnership conceived and supported by MorganMyers (MM), launched a campaign to help farmers actively manage SCN. To date, this campaign has motivated up to 18 percent more farmers to actively manage SCN, enabling them to farm more sustainably – both economically and environmentally.
SCN is the No. 1 yield-grabbing pest in U.S. soybean fields costing farmers more than $1.5 billion annually. Universities estimate that more than 67 percent of all U.S. soybean acres are infested with SCN. And that percentage is growing. SCN can now invade the roots of SCN-resistant varieties with PI 88788, a resistant source that is used in 95 percent of the SCN-resistant varieties that farmers plant each year. This has put farmers in a pickle because they only have limited ways to manage this pest. University research from 15 years of surveillance trials in farmers’ fields concluded that SCN is increasingly able to reproduce on the PI 88788 resistance source. Recent introductions of nematode-protectant seed treatments and an SCN-resistant variety with a different source of resistance called Peking, can help rescue fields with damaging SCN pressure, but market research revealed that many farmers are either unaware these options exist or that they need them. The farmers who are aware say they’re only losing 5.1 bushels per acre to SCN, while university research confirms their yield loss is closer to 14 bushels per acre or 23 percent of their potential.
Winning A Farmer-funded Grant. In 2017, the North Central Soybean Research Program (NCSRP), a farmer-funded checkoff organization, provided an annual renewable grant each year during a four-year period with the goal of moving more farmers to actively manage SCN. MM’s strategy was to unify the industry influencers who farmers trust for agronomic solutions – seed/crop protection dealers, crop advisers and university Extension – and then mobilize them as credible “message multipliers.” The logical strategy was to create a coalition of public universities and private companies that would align and commit to activating their communication channels and sales networks to carry SCN messaging directly to farmers. Leveraging the market and university research were key success factors in creating this alignment – one meeting at a time.
Meet The SCN Coalition. This industry activation resulted in a 40-member public/private partnership, including two national checkoff organizations, eight private industry partners and 30 universities from 28 states and Ontario, Canada. This partnership became known as The SCN Coalition, a Delta Force committed to helping farmers actively bring the fight to SCN. In that spirit, MM created the message: “Take the test. Beat the pest.” It becomes the coalition’s battle cry, supported by education, training, events, grower activation and media coverage:
- Tools for the Troops. Website, online resource center, coalition outreach, communications and management.
- Launch and Refuel Events. “Commodity Classic” convention/trade show exhibit, farmer learning sessions, press conferences, interview and coalition meetings.
- Industry Partner Activities. 32-page Corn+Soy Digest insert, ongoing direct communications to seed/crop protection dealer networks and farmers.
- University Extension Activities. Ongoing SCN sampling program, media interviews, summer field days, bulletins and winter farmer meetings.
- “Let’s Talk Todes” Campaign. Online, video docuseries promoted directly to farmers.
- Steady Promotion Drumbeat. Ongoing press releases, media interviews, e-news and social media posts.
- SCN Benchmark Research. Pre- and post-quantitative market research with more than 1,000 soybean farmers.
Behavioral Outcomes. In 2021, the original quantitative farmer survey was repeated with message recall questions added. The survey showed The SCN Coalition moved up to 18 percent more farmers to adopt practices to actively manage SCN-resistance beyond the established behavioral objectives:
- 18 percent increase in farmers using nematode-protectant seed treatments – from 22 to 40 percent (13 percent above goal).
- 10 percent increase in farmers rotating genetic sources of SCN resistance – from 39 to 49 percent (5 percent above goal).
- 10 percent increase in farmers naming Peking as a genetic source of resistance – from 15 to 25 percent (5 percent above goal).
- 7 percent increase in farmers planting SCN resistant soybean varieties – from 59 to 66 percent (2 percent above goal).
- 6 percent increase in farmers rotating non-host crops – from 71 to 77 percent (1 percent above goal).
Message Awareness Outputs. 28.1 million potential impressions by the end of 2021 and high message recall further demonstrate the success of this campaign battle: More than 76 percent of farmers recalled “rotate to non-host crops,” 65 percent recalled “rotate resistant varieties,” 66 percent recalled “consider a nematode-protectant seed treatment,” and 55 percent recalled “actively managing SCN.”
Active Management Ignites Yield and Growers’ Bottom Line. The projected economic impact of The SCN Coalition is staggering. Surveyed growers who are actively managing SCN report capturing an additional 5.1 bushels per acre, adding $48.45 per acre to their bottom line – based on an average soybean price of $9.50 per bushel during that time. But university research demonstrates that depending on the level of SCN reproduction occurring on resistant soybean varieties in growers’ fields, up to 23 percent more yield may have been recouped by actively managing SCN.
Golden ARC Award Winner: Social Media
California Beans’ “12 Days of Beans” Campaign
Provided by AC&C Marketing
Growing Qualified Follower Count with Giveaway Contests
From 2020 to 2021, California Beans’ core audience of largely Gen X female consumers expanded to include millennial female consumers via social media efforts spearheaded by AC&C Marketing. Social engagement increased 46 percent year over year as content strategy addressed consumers of both generations looking for healthy protein-dense food for themselves and their families. California Beans’ social media audience was liking, saving and commenting more than ever before. The clear goal for Q4 of 2021 became acquiring more followers who aligned with the new core audience.
Engaging a More Comprehensive Group of Healthy Consumers
California Beans’ core audience in Q4 2021 was comprised of females 22 to 44 years old, who enjoy cooking at home, especially healthy food, including vegetarian and plant-based meals. Targeting for the Q4 Instagram campaign focused on California users across key food and agriculture hubs in the audience, namely San Francisco, the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto area and Los Angeles. Targeted interests were vegetarianism, cooking at home, food, vegetarian cuisine, recipes, foodie, cooking and plant-based diet. The target age range was expanded to 22 to 64 years old to cast a slightly wider net.
Driving Qualified Follower Growth via Incentive
Monthly social media reports demonstrated that contests were the top-performing posts for the brand during 2021. A holiday social media campaign with several contests in a short timeframe offered a clear path to acquire more followers aligned with the California Beans’ core audience.
AC&C Marketing launched a campaign lasting 12 consecutive days from Dec. 10-23, on the California Beans Instagram account, named the “12 Days of Beans.” The goals were to increase follower acquisition and engagement, while tying seasonal recipes featuring beans to the holiday recipe content trend in the weeks leading up to the holidays. To grow follower count and increase reach, the 12-day campaign offered users three separate contest opportunities and each contest post was boosted. Each day of the campaign, interactive Instagram Stories were posted along with posts to further drive engagement. A #12DaysofBeans hashtag was used on all campaign posts and shared in Instagram Stories related to the campaign for visibility of campaign content. To visually cue the transition to holiday content, the existing California Beans logo also had a refresh with new holiday colors and snow to tie in with the 12 Days of Beans campaign.
Three contests were featured during the campaign:
The first contest offered a brand-new cookbook, Grist: A Practical Guide to Cooking Grains, Beans, Seeds, and Legumes, as the prize. Entry requirements were: 1) Follow California Beans IG account, 2) Like and save the post, 3) Comment with favorite holiday recipe and which variety of beans it includes, and 4) Tag two friends.
Beanitos Collaboration Contest
Beanitos Chips approached California Beans through Instagram DMs for a partnership opportunity. The two brands aligned well, both focusing on locally grown beans, so the two brands collaborated for the second giveaway. The contest was to win a Beanitos goodie box and a $50 Amazon gift card so followers could purchase even more Beanitos. Entry requirements included: 1) Follow California Beans and Beanitos Chips Instagram accounts, 2) Like and save the post, 3) Comment with Beanitos Chips variety you’re most excited to try, and 4) Tag two friends. An extra entry was included if users shared the post in Instagram Stories and tagged both California Beans and Beanitos Chips.
Prize Pack Giveaway
The third contest was to win a bean-related prize pack that contained a slow cooker, The Bean Cookbook: Creative Recipes for Every Meal of the Day, and a $50 Whole Foods gift card. There was a high engagement rate on this particular contest and it received more “extra entry” submissions through Instagram Stories than any previous contest before. Entry requirements included: 1) Follow California Beans, 2) Like and save the post, 3) Comment with what you’re most looking forward to this holiday season, and 4) Tag two friends. An extra entry was included if users shared in Instagram Stories and tagged California Beans.
Building Brand Community and Partnership
The California Beans Instagram gained 332 new followers and saw a 9 percent engagement rate with 104,473 impressions, 1,969 likes and 1,311 comments, as a result of the 12 Days of Beans campaign.
- Cookbook Giveaway Analytics: 2.3k+ Likes, 122 Comments, 50 Eligible Entries
- Beanitos Collaboration Giveaway Analytics: 3.3k+ Likes, 394 Comments, 295 Eligible Entries on Cal Beans, 204 Entries on Beanitos, 499 Total Contest Entries
- Prize Pack Giveaway Analytics: 5.5k+ Likes, 814 Comments, 577 Total Contest Entries
Direct quote from Beanitos: “In all honesty, this has been one of the best giveaways in the matter of success we’ve had in a while and would be more than interested in working together, so please reach out in 2022. We would love to work with y’all again!”
AC&C Marketing recognized the opportunity to not only increase California Beans Instagram followers, but to increase followers in line with their core audience of both millennial and Gen X female consumers by incentivizing sharing within their friend network (of similar profiles). Using a top-performing content type for both generations three times across the holiday push allowed for not only a follower lift but a new, promising partnership and community of better-qualified consumers for California Beans.
Golden ARC Award Winner: Unique Tactics and Executions – Open Category This is ALMONDCENTER!
Provided by Daren Williams, Almond Board of California
The Almond Conference 2021 was a unique one in a complex year for the California almond industry, and the annual State of the Industry address at the start was crucial. We had an enormous amount of information to convey. Even more, there were an array of moods we needed to weave together – excitement, resilience, collegiality, confidence and hope. We had to do it right.
We had to keep it entertaining but informative and serious but not depressing! The answer came in the form of a fast-paced news show – think SportsCenter meets The Daily Show. This is AlmondCenter!
2021 was a difficult year for the almond industry, which faced a major drought, COVID-19 hardships, low prices and a clogged supply chain.
On the flip side, many growers, suppliers and vendors had not gathered in person for two years due to the pandemic. So, people were thrilled to get together and catch up on industry developments. People were excited.
One thing we knew for sure: we didn’t need another “death by PowerPoint” presentation. We needed an event. We needed to celebrate being together again, showcase the global reach and accomplishments of the Almond Board, and remind everyone – from growers to global buyers – that the industry is creative and contemporary. We needed to give people a reason to smile – and applaud.
We had big goals and a short planning and production schedule – about six weeks from conception to show time.
So, as any good comms team would, we brainstormed. We mixed our communications, production and TV expertise and – we like to believe – our wit. We would put on a faux news show that was clever, fast paced and high energy.
To anchor the show, we called on Almond Board CEO Richard Waycott and Board Chair Brian Wahlbrink. Then, we wrote a script built around their talents and their willingness to poke fun at themselves.
To ensure high-quality video and graphics, we brought in Lux Productions, a local video production house, to shoot video and build big screen graphics that mimicked SportsCenter. We projected the graphics on a giant LED screen to give the set the look of a TV studio.
Now for the content. We connected with our subject matter experts and marketing teams around the globe to craft 15 individual news segments featuring ABC’s work around the globe to build demand for California almonds. Then, we encouraged them to have fun and ham it up!
We had our “cast,” messages and audience. Next up, make them all sing – though, thankfully, not literally. We scripted and choreographed a show that was at times cheeky and at times serious, weaving in laugh lines while continuously, sometimes subtly, conveying serious information.
Our anchors introduced our “correspondents” as if they were live on location. We had correspondents in London, Seoul, Hong Kong and New Delhi go out on their streets to shoot their reports, opening and closing like they were bantering with the anchors. Closer to home, we filmed our “local” correspondents in front of a green screen that put them in front of a drained reservoir, the Port of Oakland, Disney Studios and, of course, several almond orchards. The segments were all pre-recorded, but the information was new and vital to our audience.
We were reporting a year of record shipments and changing markets, but even good numbers can bring those yawns. To bring excitement to the stats, we periodically tossed it across the studio to “Big Bryce at the Big Board,” featuring ABC’s shipment 6’6” numbers guru Bryce Spycher (think Steve Kornacki on election night).
And this was a TV show, so obviously it needed commercial breaks. That was our chance to show real commercials the Almond Board airs around the world.
Since this was an in-person conference, we staged AlmondCenter as if we were shooting a live episode. The audience was our “live studio audience.”
Based on anecdotal reports from staff about how attendees enjoyed the show – and learned so much – AlmondCenter achieved its objective. But we have more than that!
Among conference attendees surveyed after the conference who attended the State of the Industry, 73 percent rated it excellent or above average.
Plus, trade media wrote about AlmondCenter in their conference reporting, a high compliment considering how rare it is for the typical State of the Industry stories to talk about the format of the session. Ag Alert, the weekly newspaper from the California Farm Bureau, not only described the format of the show, they also wrote their conference round-up story based on direct quotes and information from AlmondCenter.
So how do we top AlmondCenter in 2022? Maybe “Almonds: The Musical.” But then we’d have to find out if our people really can sing!
ARC board member Hallowell receives NAMA award
The National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA) recognized Lori Hallowell, Bader Rutter, as a 2022 Professional Development Awards of Excellence recipient. Hallowell’s professional commitment derives from a deep-seated passion for agriculture. For more than 30 years, her concern for the land, livestock and feeding the world has driven her to continually push her industry to improve and innovate. As a public relations leader, Hallowell inspires her Bader Rutter team to seek new and effective ways to deliver content in an ever-changing world. Her progressive approach and understanding that to reach producers, agencies must capitalize on diverse content vehicles, has helped her team excel despite unprecedented challenges in recent years. Passionate about developing the next generation of ag communicators, Hallowell devotes countless hours as a mentor and has been active within NAMA for nearly 30 years.
ARC member Richard Howell passes
Richard Howell, a long-time ag communicator, died Sept. 20, at the age of 89. Howell began his career as the Voice of the Ohio Farm Bureau. Later, he worked with the Farm and Industrial Equipment Institute and American Dairy Products Institute. Also, he served as editor of AgriMarketing magazine.
During his career, Howell was active with the National Association of Farm Broadcasting and Agricultural Relations Council. He served a term as ARC president and was inducted into the ARC Hall of Fame in 2014.