2023 Fall ARC Light
Posted by: Christie Nissen on November 2, 2023
Posted in: Newsletter
Get ready for the ARC Annual Meeting!
By Sally Behringer, ARC president
I know June seems a mile away, but our planning committee is already gearing up to offer another fantastic Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) Annual Meeting. This year’s meeting will be June 18-20, in lovely Cincinnati. We’ll be staying at the beautiful Hilton Netherland Hotel. More details on our agenda and registration will be announced soon so stay tuned!
Follow ARC on social media
Are you keeping up with ARC announcements and events via our website and social media? This is a great way to get the latest news on upcoming webinars and events, annual meeting updates and information on special programs, such as the ARC/C.O.nxt Scholarship Program and the ARC Internship program. Here are some handy links – be sure to bookmark these in your browser:
More events coming up
Our next Harvesting Knowledge Webinar is coming up on Nov. 30, and it’s a topic everyone in the industry is talking about! The topic is “Artificial Intelligence in Marketing: Avoiding Folly in Fast Tech” and our featured speaker is Casey Mills, vice president and director of social media at Swanson Russell. Learn more here: https://www.agrelationscouncil.org/harvesting-knowledge-webinar-series.
Membership renewals are coming
Take a moment and think about what ARC membership means to you. For me, it’s a chance to network in a group of my public relations professional peers and exchange ideas and information on how to do our jobs better every day. What’s your favorite thing about being an ARC member? Keep that in mind because renewal notices will be going out soon. Renew by Dec. 31, so you won’t miss updates on the annual meeting and other programming specials.
Internship applications are open
Internship application periods are open for two great internship opportunities. First up, Certified Angus Beef is looking for interns in several areas:
- Communications and Public Relations
- Producer Communications and Multimedia
- Marketing (new this year!)
Learn more about these internships (and other full-time career opportunities – including a Creative Director) at https://certifiedangusbeef.bamboohr.com/careers.
Also, applications are now open for the 2024 ARC internship program, which will be hosted by Curious Plot, a marketing communications firm headquartered in Minneapolis. Get more information on qualifications and how to apply here: https://www.agrelationscouncil.org/students/arc-internship.
Hope to see you at NAFB Annual Meeting!
Are you attending the National Association of Farm Broadcasting Annual Meeting in Kansas City, Mo., later this month? I hope to see you there! I’ll be on hand representing ARC. If you’re interested in learning more about ARC or if you’re a member with ideas for expanded member services or annual meeting content, say, “Hi!” and let’s chat.
Do you have questions or ideas on how we can continue to grow ARC and attract more members? I’d love to hear them! Contact me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for being a part of the Agricultural Relations Council. Have a safe, happy and blessed holiday season this year.
Let’s grow ARC together!
Curious Plot to host 2024 ARC/Gardner & Gardner Communications intern
Do you know a college undergraduate looking for an agricultural public relations summer internship? If yes, encourage the student to apply for the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC)/Gardner & Gardner Communications internship, being hosted by Curious Plot. A marketing, communications and consulting agency for the food, agriculture and companion animal care markets, Curious Plot’s core competencies are strategy + consulting, public relations, media, digital and engagement, and creative + experience.
The Minneapolis-based internship starts May 20 and ends Aug. 9. To learn more about Curious Plot internships, go to: https://curiousplot.agency/summer-internship.
ARC public relations intern applicants should be strong communicators with impeccable writing and speaking skills. They appreciate the art of crafting a brand’s reputation through earned media. Additionally, they can create a hook out of anything and bring creative ideas for event planning and have an interest in influencer marketing.
The ARC/Curious Plot intern will:
- Write press releases, white papers and other written deliverables
- Support influencer relations and communications
- Support media relations efforts and event planning
- Report on earned media performance for client-facing presentations
Furthermore, the intern will serve as a student advisor with the ARC board of directors. The advisor position will help shape the ARC community on the needs of those just starting out in agricultural public relations.
During the 12-week internship, the ARC intern will spend 80 percent of work time on Curious Plot projects and 20 percent to support and attend the ARC Annual Conference, set for June 18-20, in Cincinnati.
Students interested in applying for this internship should fill out the online application. Applications are due Dec. 31. The intern will be selected by Jan. 31.
Funding for this internship comes from a Gardner & Gardner Communications grant to the ARC Foundation.
ARC intern reflects on her experience with G&S Business Communications
By McKenna Greco, Rutgers University
I learned about ARC at the beginning of my senior year at Rutgers University. At that point, I knew I wanted to find a way to combine my background in agriculture with my writing skills, but I wasn’t sure exactly what that looked like. I was excited at the prospect of working with both ARC and G&S, and hoped that the internship would provide me with a little more clarity.
Just a few weeks into my internship, I attended the ARC Annual Meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, as a student advisor to the board and the 2023 ARC intern. The educational panels at the ARC meeting provided insights into Iowa agriculture and beyond. Through these sessions, I gained a better understanding of the needs of agriculturalists across the country and learned alongside the public relations professionals that tell their stories. As a student advisor to the board, I had the privilege of seeing all the work that goes into the annual meeting as well as the value of collaboration across the industry.
ARC volunteers planned an entire day of tours and networking following the educational sessions. With the previous day’s lessons fresh in my mind, I saw firsthand the impact of strong professional relationships and sound PR practices on local farms and businesses. This was a valuable opportunity to not only meet the industry professionals I admire, but to learn and laugh alongside them while experiencing agriculture in new ways. The ARC internship was unique in that way. Education and experience went hand in hand as I returned to New Jersey with a more well-rounded perspective – one that I immediately applied during my internship at G&S.
Interning at G&S was easily one of the most worthwhile professional experiences I’ve had. The entire team was welcoming and eager to answer any and every question I had – and there were many! My supervisors went out of their way to tailor the experience to my interests and strengths while challenging me to tackle unfamiliar projects. I tried my hand at everything – from media pitches to agronomy blogs – and did so knowing that the work was meaningful to the agency and its clients. I am a more confident communicator, a more valuable team member and a more passionate “agvocate” than I was prior to my internship – thanks to the mentorship I received from multiple teams.
During my last week as an intern, I was able to write for the Thrive magazine. Working alongside such a driven team was one of the highlights of my internship, followed by my excitement at seeing the first article I worked on at G&S go from a rough draft to a published piece.
When my internship ended, it was bittersweet. I was disappointed at how quickly my internship had flown by but energized at the same time. I knew what it was that I wanted to do and I couldn’t wait to hit the ground running and apply my new skills. I was pleased to be asked to come back to G&S as a full-time employee.
I would like to extend a sincere thank you to both ARC and G&S for such a rewarding experience. For any students considering the ARC internship, take the plunge and apply. The relationships and skills you’ll develop will make it well worth your time.
ARC’s November 30 webinar focuses on AI in marketing
Register for the Agricultural Relations Council’s (ARC) Nov. 30 webinar, which features “AI in Marketing: Avoiding Folly in Fast Tech.” Casey Mills, Swanson Russell vice president | director of social media, will lead the one-hour webinar, which starts at 11:30 a.m. Central time.
As businesses strive to stay ahead in the rapidly evolving digital landscape, the allure of artificial intelligence (AI) can be both enticing and treacherous. During the webinar, Mills will explore the current capabilities of AI in marketing and its potential at both ends of the spectrum. Learn how AI could be both a hero and a headache for marketing teams.
Mills helps set top-level strategy for social media and content marketing, ensuring that social media is on trend and tracking against business goals. He brings a collaborative, analytical mindset to Swanson Russell’s Engagement Group and regularly supports the agency’s Experience Group with audience analysis and segmentation. In his nine years at Swanson Russell, Mills has helped establish the social media practice, becoming a thought leader in B2B social media and content marketing.
Register at: https://bit.ly/arc-nov-2023-webinar
ARC offers media training webinar
“Honing Your Media Training Skills” headlines ARC’s Jan. 10 webinar. Daren Williams, Curious Plot senior vice president of public relations and reputation management, will lead the one-hour webinar that starts at 12:30 p.m. Central time. Registration for this webinar will open in mid-December.
The Jan. 10 webinar will feature media training tips for media trainers. Williams began media training clients in the throes of crisis in the late 1990s during his time at FleishmanHillard (FH) in Kansas City, Mo. For several years at FH, he led a monthly session at the Pioneer Hi-Bred Carver Center, where he conducted media training for researchers to talk about the safety of biotech crops and other issues. He went on to lead spokesperson development for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, training farmers, ranchers, chefs, dietitians, medical doctors, scientists and other subject matter experts on behalf of the beef checkoff. Williams will share his tips for conducting effective media training for food and ag spokespeople, regardless of their skill level or lack of experience.
Williams has more than 35 years of experience as a strategic communications counselor in food, agriculture, health care, consumer products and financial services. He has worked with and for national commodity boards, representing almonds, beef, dairy and pork; farmers’ cooperatives, including Dairy Farmers of America, Farmland Industries, Welch’s and Ocean Spray; and technology providers, such as BASF, Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer, now Corteva. Early in his career, Williams represented food and agriculture trade associations in the nation’s capital. He began his career as a staff member on Senator Bob Dole’s 1988 presidential campaign.
Travel to Cincinnati for the 2024 ARC Annual Meeting
Mark your calendar for the 2024 Agricultural Relations Council Annual Meeting – June 18-24 – at the Hilton Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati. Watch your e-mail inbox and future “ARC Light” newsletters for more details.
Golden ARC Award Winner: PR Campaigns – Marketing Communications for Non-Ag Audiences Purina Flock’s Operation Fresh Egg
Provided by Filament
In 2021, the rising sentiment in our world was, “It’s been a long year, flock friends.” (Thank you, pandemic.) So, Purina launched the Operation Fresh Egg campaign to put smiles back on faces during a challenging year and spread a little love with delicious backyard eggs.
The campaign’s objective was never about featuring products or driving sales; it was about something bigger than us, something we could all smile about together. Purina gave our community of backyard chicken raisers all the tools and inspiration they needed to share their fresh eggs with their friends, family and larger communities, including egg carton labels and gift tags.
The original initiative was so successful that Purina brought Operation Fresh Egg back for a second year in 2022. But this time, we made it even better.
Planning for success
With continued research and the key findings and learnings from 2021, Purina set out to rebuild this campaign for maximum impact. We went lean where necessary, doubled down on efforts that created widespread awareness and reached further into our audience to introduce the initiative to new faces.
Purina put together an extensive communications plan to make the campaign an even bigger success than 2021. Strategies included:
- Creating a more localized, grassroots media relations effort.
- Empowering members of Purina’s online community to encourage their communities to participate.
- Introducing influencers to this initiative and asking for their help spreading the good word.
- Designing fresh materials and printing tons of supplies to ship to dealers and chicken subscription boxes.
- Enhancing the campaign landing page for a better user experience and easier-than-ever downloading process.
- Developing a full-blown social media strategy to prepare for widespread community activations.
Our target audience was any backyard chicken enthusiast across the United States. Farmers, urban chicken owners, celebrities, influencers, Purina feed dealers – we wanted them all to participate!
Everyone was encouraged to join in on the mission to spread kindness. Purina chose this audience due to their direct access to fresh eggs, their passion and pride in the life they keep, and the honor they hold sharing it with others. By participating, chicken raisers became more loyal to Purina and started conversations with community members, encouraging them to raise chickens (#PurinaFed, of course.)
Bringing the flock community together
In 2022, Purina ignited this initiative, creating moments that celebrated the positive impact of fresh eggs and brought the flock community together.
Through a multitude of avenues, including feed dealers, print-at-home, subscription boxes and more, Purina offered free branded Operation Fresh Egg carton labels and asked the community to use them to package their eggs and pass them along. They also asked chicken raisers to share their stories on social media using the hashtag #OperationFreshEgg and watch the love and kindness unfold in front of them.
Through awareness tactics like social media, influencers, media relations and gift baskets, Purina showed that not only do chicken raisers provide their families with delicious fresh eggs, but they also make significant impacts in their communities.
One fresh egg at a time
Together, Purina and its flock community spread love and kindness – one fresh egg at a time. In doing so, they further cemented Purina’s category leadership and brand loyalty.
Our goal was to celebrate the backyard chicken-keeping lifestyle and to highlight the two primary reasons people began raising chickens: farm-fresh eggs and happiness.
We did this by reaching as many chicken owners as possible with a Purina-positive sentiment – whether it be loyalists expressing their love for the brand or new flock parents interested in Purina. Not only did Purina double its awareness in 2022, but the comments and shared words from our audience were off-the-charts positive.
While others were focused on product features and benefits, this campaign worked deeper to create a lasting connection with Purina. The amount of grateful, loving and fulfilling emotions Purina received proved this campaign elevated Purina’s brand reputation.
Golden ARC Award Winner: PR Campaigns – Corporate Social Responsibility Rural Minds Matter
Provided by Kansas Farm Bureau
Donna Wise was 18 years old when her dad died by suicide. We often associate this age with high school graduates heading to their first year of college if they so choose, but for Wise, she dealt with loss.
“I recognize how much I lost and of course how much he lost,” says Wise, a Sedgwick County Farm Bureau member who raises corn, wheat, sorghum and soybeans in Clearwater. “Had he been able to find another way to deal with the pain he was feeling, there could have been an entirely different outcome. My life would have been different.”
Too often, we hear stories of losing loved ones to mental health struggles. Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) recognizes the immense stress farmers and ranchers feel with stressors, including, but not limited to, volatile weather events, the changing prices of grains and commodities, increased input costs and a global pandemic. With research from American Farm Bureau Federation and others, KFB put action into lessening the stigma around mental health and increasing access to mental health resources, especially when it comes to farmers and ranchers through its Rural Minds Matter campaign.
KFB was intentional and sensitive about sharing the stories and perspectives of its members through YouTube videos of members talking about their experiences with mental health. These Farm Bureau members shared openly about their struggles, their hopes and words of encouragement to others who may be experiencing difficulties with mental health. These members’ stories were also featured in an article in the winter issue of KFB’s magazine, Kansas Living, which reaches more than 106,000 families.
Donna Wise is a strong emotional feature in the Rural Minds Matter campaign. Her story is poignant and heartbreaking and draws on human compassion of realizing everyone is struggling. The campaign also features a nurse practitioner who works in a rural area of Kansas and shares her experiences of helping her community live healthier lives – not just through treating high blood pressure or diabetes – but also through caring for their mental health. Two male farmers share how they’re recovering from mental health issues and how important it is for them to share their story. One member shares her experience of mental health after wildfires ripped through Kansas in December 2021. She encouraged farmers and ranchers to be open about their struggles.
One reader reacted to the story in Kansas Living, saying, “You will absolutely save lives with the mental health story. It is one of the most comprehensive pieces I’ve ever seen combining personal accounts, resources, signs to watch for and reasons to hope. You did an extraordinary job finding people with heart-wrenching stories to share, stories that your readers will connect with immediately. These very private people opened up about their most terrible moments and you captured those so beautifully.”
The campaign also includes several mental health-related articles on the consumer-focused website, www.kansaslivingmagazine.com and KFB’s website, plus materials created with K-State Research and Extension, a “You Are Not Alone” brochure, social media content and a dedicated page on the KFB website. To share these important messages broadly, a toolkit was created for KFB’s 105 county Farm Bureaus to easily share within their own communities. In addition, a member who is passionate about the topic wrote an editorial that was shared with newspapers across the state. Farm Bureau staff are also part of several focus groups that discuss mental health. Kansas Farm Bureau is committed to raising awareness about the mental health challenges faced by farmers and ranchers. They understand the importance of sharing stories of vulnerability and making resources available for help.
Golden ARC Award Winner: Marketing Communications for Agricultural Audiences Fueling the Future
Provided by New Holland with Curious Plot
With the continuing rise of fuel, energy and input prices, and the push for sustainable practices, alternative options to power equipment are being considered more by farmers. To address these challenges, New Holland developed the T6.180 Methane Power tractor. A tractor that can be fueled by biomethane created from cow manure or crop waste, and can reduce running costs by 30 percent, lower CO2 emissions by 10 percent and minimize overall emissions by 80 percent.
Previously launched in Europe, New Holland made the strategic move to introduce the T6.180 Methane Power tractor to the North American market in February 2022. The launch was a culmination of a multiyear approach to create and bring to market a tractor lineup that furthered the use of more sustainable fuel sources. As gears switched from internal to external promotion, New Holland partnered with Curious Plot to help introduce the T6.180 Methane Power tractor in North America and sustain excitement post-launch in 2022 and well into 2023.
The key to bringing this story to life was a significant focus on public relations – from media relations to speaking sessions, to appearances on Jay Leno’s Garage with the tractor. A public relations-first approach ensured New Holland would be able to drive awareness and create educational opportunities to further the T6.180 Methane Power tractor story.
At the core of it, seeing the tractor up close helps anyone be able to grasp the opportunities afforded by the T6.180 Methane Power tractor. Ag media members are no different. Trade shows like World Ag Expo, Commodity Classic, the Farm Progress Show and World Dairy Expo served as crucial platforms to elevate the tractor, not only with potential customers, but influential media members. In 2022 and 2023, the tractor was centerstage at all of these events and was a pivotal point of discussion with numerous media members.
But trade shows offered more than just an opportunity to engage with customers and media on the showgrounds. It gave New Holland the chance to go in depth and speak on the technology, concept and impact of the tractor. One of the driver themes of the T6.180 Methane Power tractor is New Holland’s Energy Independent Farm concept. This concept enables farmers to grow energy crops and use agriculture waste to generate biomethane and power their T6.180 Methane Power tractor with this sustainable fuel to achieve near-zero CO2 emissions and ease the burden of energy costs. With partner company Bennamann, New Holland hosted a Knowledge Nook session at World Dairy Expo 2022, titled, “Fueling the Future: Smells Like Methane.” The session focused on the on-farm infrastructure required to create biomethane to fuel equipment like the T6.180 Methane Power tractor.
To find other unique ways to promote the T6.180 Methane Power tractor, New Holland secured a place on Jay Leno’s Garage. The episode, which aired in October of 2022, included a segment of the episode focused on the tractor. It included Leno and Kelly Clarkson test driving the T6.180 Methane Power tractor and talking about the tractor and its use of biomethane. By leaning into non-ag platforms, this helped garner further awareness and credibility for the tractor and its fuel concept with a wider audience.
Units of the T6.180 Methane Power tractor are expected to make their way onto North America farms, shortly. With this progression, the story of the T6.180 Methane Power tractor has only begun and so has its impact on what the industry can expect from this next generation of tractor technology.