Posted by: Kristy on April 9, 2015

Posted in: Newsletter, Updates

What’s the Top Annual Meeting on Your Agenda? ARC of Course

By Mike Opperman Mike_Opperman_399x399_web_r1

ARC Board President                                        

Like a lot of public relations professionals, I go to a lot of meetings every year. There is one meeting, however, that I look forward to the most—the Ag Relations Council annual meeting. Now, it may be that I’m biased because I’ve been a part of the organization for several years. Or it may just be because the networking and professional development really recharge my batteries.

To be sure, other industry meetings offer valuable information. The ARC meeting follows suit, but the content gives us insight into the communications strategies behind a topic—the challenges faced, the desired outcomes, the pathways used to meet those objectives, the lessons learned. This sort of professional development is unique to the ARC meeting. And that’s why I’m encouraging you to come again OR attend our meeting for the first time.

Since rising from the ashes several years ago, ARC has become a robust organization, with nearly 120 members, new programs for members and college students studying for ag communications careers, the resurrection of the Golden ARC program and much more in professional development.

What’s special about the ARC meeting goes beyond the workshops and seminars. We also get out of the meeting room and embark on tours that help us see unique aspects of agriculture first-hand. And it’s usually relevant to the specific geography. So we get to experience parts of the food system that we don’t often get to see. Again, something unique to ARC.

But let’s not count out our professional development workshops this year. Been to many professional development workshops that review the communications issues surrounding the legalization of marijuana? We’ll have that. There’s a reason our meeting theme this year is: “Rocky Mountain High – ARC.” Enough said. How about case studies on ag crisis communications efforts? We’ll have that too. And much more to inform and educate you to be a better ag communications professional.

As mentioned previously, another unique aspect of the ARC meeting is the ability to recognize great work and great people through the Golden ARC awards. We get to see the best of the best, and hear from some of the leading public relations professionals that have made our industry great. That’s unique to ARC, too.

The Hall of Fame is unique as well. ARC manages the ONLY national program that recognizes the industry’s best lifetime public relations professionals. This is our fourth year. Thanks to Agri Marketing magazine for sponsoring this award.

Despite all of the professional development opportunities, tours and added benefits, probably the most valuable part of the meeting is the networking opportunities with other public relations professionals. We like to call it “professional intimacy.” Our group is relatively small which lends itself to interacting with others, building camaraderie in addition to life-long friendships.

There are a lot of great meetings that happen in our industry. None of them are like the ARC meeting. All the more reason you should attend! See you in Denver. Please go to for more information or contact our staff at or 952/758-5811 and ask for Den/Kristy/Barb.

Rocky Mountain High. Where’s John Denver when you need him most? I’m tempted to hum a few bars of Brewer and Shipley’s famous ‘70s song (yes, you all know what I’m talking about), but those memories will remain in that decade – for now.



2015 ARC Meeting Set for Denver – Rocky Mountain High!

ARC Annual Meeting June 23-25 at Magnolia Hotel


By Den Gardner

Executive Director

“Rocky Mountain High” — the Ag Relations Council annual meeting — is set for June 23-25 in Denver at the Magnolia Hotel.

As the 2015 meeting is less than three months away, host and program chair Daren Williams and his team (Mike Opperman and Sally Behringer) are putting the final touches on a top-notch professional development program.

Here’s a quick look at the program. For a full agenda, please go to for more information.ARC Meeting Logo

Wednesday, June 24

  • “Rocky Mountain High” Marijuana Issues Panel. Legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado has created a number of issues voters may not have anticipated when they voted for “The Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act of 2012.” It is such a hot topic in the state The Denver Post hired a marijuana editor and launched “The Cannabist,” an online publication dedicated to “address cannabis’ ever-expanding role in our weekly lives via news coverage, pot-rooted recipes, arts features, strain and gear reviews, lifestyle profiles, business articles and more, more more.” Panelists include Ricardo Baca, The Denver Post/The Cannabist marijuana editor, a representative of the Retail Marijuana Education department of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and a marijuana grower.
  • Protecting Pollinators Workshop. We’re also working on structuring a workshop session to cover pollinator-related communications topics such as:
  1. Is there really a pollinator “crisis”?
  2. What’s the latest science and how is it all being communicated to consumers?
  3. What are different organizations doing to protect pollinators/educate the public about the importance of pollinators?
  4. Why is the pollinator issue important to agriculture?

PollinatorThus far Dr. Becky Langer-Curry, Bayer Crop Science, and Beth Conrey, president, Colorado State Beekeepers Association, are scheduled to appear. It is hopeful to have a beekeeper on the panel as well.


  • Effective Crisis Communications.


  • Can Social and Digital Media be Measured Inexpensively? This hands-on presentation and Q&A from John Blue of Truffle Media Networks, will discuss free and low cost approaches for measuring social media reach, impression, and ROI. This session will focus on: 1) outlining the value of measuring, 2) sharing information on low cost tools for PR professionals, and 3) how to add those tools into client proposals so the measurement process gets paid for.


  • The ARC Business Meeting, which will include an update on the strategic plan, election of officers and other pending association business. This will be held during lunch on Wednesday.


  • The evening reception/dinner will feature our Hall of Fame awards program for the 2015 inductee Steve Drake. This event will be off-site at the 1515 Restaurant in downtown Denver.


Thursday, June 25


Oskar BluesTours are still tentative for Thursday. Scheduled is a tour of Oskar Blues Hops and Heifers Farm. Lunch is also set for the Oskar Blues Home Made Liquids & Solids restaurant.

One other tour is still being arranged. Meeting planners promise to have members back to the hotel by 4 p.m. to get rested and cleaned up for the evening’s main event.

Thursday evening features the reception and dinner and recognizes the Golden ARC award winners.

So, mark your calendars for Denver on June 23-25, 2015, at the Magnolia Hotel. ARC members will get a rate of just $185 per night.

“We’ve got a great program and are excited to be hosting the ARC meeting in the Mile High City,” says Daren Williams, president-elect of ARC. “Colorado is rich in agricultural history and production and ARC members will find our state enticing from so many aspects, including low humidity and high…altitude!”

Kudos to Mike Opperman and his creative team at Charleston|Orwig for developing the logo for the 2015 meeting. And new this year: a souvenir t-shirt for the meeting courtesy of Syngenta.

Registrations are open at the ARC web site.



 Drake Named to 2015 Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame

Steve Drake has been named as the new recipient to the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame. The program, sponsored by Agri Marketing magazine and managed bySteve Drake 2 the Ag Relations Council (ARC), recognizes lifetime contributions to public relations and the ARC. Steve is also a former ARC Founders Award winner and has enjoyed a career in public relations that spans more than three decades.

Steve joins this illustrious group of current Hall of Fame members: Don Lerch, Lyle Orwig, John Harvey, Paul Weller, Richard Howell and Gary Myers.

After a career as an Associated Press news reporter and 10 years in college public relations, Drake entered ag PR in 1978 with the American Soybean Association (ASA). His accomplishments included:

Developing a PR team at the association, winning a PRSA Silver Anvil in the process.

  • Transitioning Soybean Digest to a commercial magazine from a house organ.
  • Creating with staff a broadcast news service.
  • Creating a photography division.
  • Supporting staff in growth of the association in membership and a more successful ASA convention.

After ASA, Drake formed and grew Drake & Company, focusing on association management through a multitude of clients, mostly in agriculture. His accomplishments included:

  • Working to coordinate Monsanto’s flood relief pre-program, generating $3+ million to rural families during the great flood of 1993. He won a Silver Anvil for this work.
  • Expanding and growing the National Christmas Tree Association through such efforts as the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation and the Trees for Troops program. This program alone has touched 122,000 military families with free Christmas trees.
  • Developed and implemented the 100th anniversary of the Alpha Zeta organization.
  • Worked with leaders of the AAEA, LPC and the Agricultural Publishers Association (APA) to create the Ag Media Summit (AMS). Today the AMS is the premier annual professional development conference for hundreds of ag communicators.

Ken Bader, former CEO of ASA and president, Global Agribusiness, says this about Steve: “His imaginative and effective public relations efforts are deserving of this national acclaim and recognition. I have known Steve for over 40 years when he was responsible for all public relations activities as well as serving as my ‘second in command.’ He is a superb and innovative public relations expert.”sTEVE dRAKE

Bader adds that he appreciated Steve’s leadership and ability “in helping forge farmer and industry’s positive perception of ASA’s initiatives with external publics including government officials. He is a masterful public relations professional who has few peers.”

Irwin Loiterstein, representing the National Christmas Tree Association, noted that Steve’s work in public relations for the association resulted in increased membership and sales of Christmas trees. The nationally-recognized Trees for Troops program, started in 2006, is still going strong.

“Steve and his staff were the glue that kept us together,” Loiterstein says. “The success of this and other marketing programs became a case study by a professor at the Ohio State University. It prompted members of the Christmas tree industry to form a committee to initiate a USDA checkoff board to make certain the promotion of real trees becomes permanent and mandatory instead of an emergency program with voluntary contributions. I am happy to say that the checkoff is part of the new farm legislation.”

Steve is currently president and owner of SCD Group, Inc., and editor of the SCD daily blog. His firm provides advice to associations and nonprofits regarding marketing and strategic visioning and he works with associations and for-profit companies on generational issues.

He also has taught communications courses at Washington University in St. Louis and public relations and journalism courses at Ohio State University, Clarke College and Albion College.




Golden ARC Awards Contest update

By Adelita Tyson

Golden ARC Awards Contest Co-Manager

Entries for the 2015 Golden ARC Awards (GAA) contest are now in the hands of the judges. This year’s GAA contest was updated to a new online entry system since its re-introduction in 2010. The response to the new entry portal was great (despite a later start in accepting entries because of changes in the application procedures) as ARC completed its sixth consecutive year of competition. Thank you to all who helped support ARC and submitted entries. There were approximately 60 entries in this year’s program.

In past years we would already be announcing the winners from the contest. However, the annual ARC meeting has been permanently moved to early summer. Thus, deadlines for the contests are now permanently extended each year.

The winners for this year will be announced at the 2015 ARC Annual Meeting in Denver, CO June 23-26, 2015. For the fourth time, one entry will be awarded the “Golden ARC de Excellence” for best overall campaign entry.

As noted earlier, the new online entry portal made the entry process much easier this year. But, we understand there are still kinks that need to be worked out. If you entered the contest and have some suggestions on how to make the new system even better, please let us know. We really do appreciate everyone’s feedback so we can make the contest a favorite for those in ag PR.

For a list of the current entry categories, visit the Golden ARC Awards website at If you have contest suggestions, please email them to Adelita Tyson, Golden ARC Awards Contest Co-Manager, at We look forward to reviewing everyone’s ideas.


Wisconsin Junior Named ARC Scholarship Winner

By Den Gardner

Executive Director

Kate Griswold, a junior at the University of Wisconsin, has been named the 2015 ARC Scholarship winner. Kate is pursuing a Life Sciences Communication degree, with her goal to graduate in May of 2016.

ARC (through its foundation) reinstituted its scholarship program this year after an absence of several years. Thanks to donations to the ARC Foundation from John Blue, Den Gardner, Bob Giblin, Richard Howell, Amy McDonald, Gary Myers and Daren Williams, the program awarded a $1,500 scholarship. ARC leadership will enhance the scholarship program in years to come and focus on other programs for college students focusing on a career in ag communications after graduation.

Kate has interned with John Deere and DuPont Pioneer the past two years in sales/marketing positions. She currently is interning at Filament Marketing.

Her collegiate activities and leadership involvement includes: Agriculture Future of America, Association of Women in Agriculture, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Ambassador, collegiate Farm Bureau and a student chapter member of NAMA.

The communications challenge between agriculture and consumers is of keen interest to Kate. “Continuing to connect farmers and families through marketing communications (public relations) for a large agriculture company is my overall career goal,” she says. “With animal cruelty videos, constant farming criticism and misconstrued agricultural facts, it is easy for the average consumer to mistrust American agriculture….I look forward to continuing to build trust in the food system, dispelling myths and addressing questions.”

Sarah Betzold, operational marketing manager for DuPont Pioneer, says Kate’s sales and marketing efforts while interning for the company left a “lasting impact on our employee team, rep team and with our customers. “

Faculty associate and NAMA advisor Sarah Botham noted that Kate’s focus beyond agriculture has embraced “communication, technology and advocacy as critical components of her education and of her contribution to global understanding of the ag industry….She is compassionate and creative; simultaneously analytical, organized and disciplined.”


ARC Webinar Update

By John Blue

ARC Board Member


For your benefit, here is the link to the ARC Webinar

5 Ways to BEEF up Your Social Media Monitoring held March 17, 2015.



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Social Media monitoring is critical to any organizations ability to respond to an issue or crisis.

Note: The first two minutes of the audio has some distortion issues during Daren Williams’ intro; what he says is important, so we left it in.

Learn five things you can do immediately to provide more actionable intelligence without getting bogged down in data. These no-cost steps can be incorporated into any existing program, from the most robust to low-cost solutions.

Joseph Hansen is a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Issues & Reputation Management team (a contractor to the Beef Checkoff), working on industry-wide issues ranging from antibiotics to beta-agonists. He focuses on matching the industry response with the overall external environment; monitoring traditional and social media closely to inform a response. Prior to joining NCBA Joe worked for the American Red Cross in Domestic Disaster Public Affairs. He holds a Master’s Degree in Crisis and Emergency Management from Florida Atlantic University.

Daren R. Williams – From deformed frogs to oil spills to pink slime, Daren has more than 25 years of issues and crisis management experience in food and agriculture. As executive director of communications at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (a contractor to the Beef Checkoff), he helps develop and deliver the story of modern beef production to media, influencers and consumers.

Prior to joining NCBA in 2006, Daren was a senior vice president in the Kansas City office of FleishmanHillard where he handled food safety, environmental, and other communications challenges for major food and agribusiness clients.



ARC Silent Auction at AMS is a SuccessAMS lOGO

By Kristy Mach

The ARC Silent auction at the Ag Media Summit in Indianapolis last year raised nearly $4,500.  The funds benefit youth programs and is split between ARC and AMS.  In total, 66 items were donated, and all of our ARC board members donated to the silent auction. We encourage all ARC members to donate to this great cause.

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

Items receiving the highest bids included techie gadgets, University apparel and gift baskets.  The 2015 Ag Media Summit takes place in Scottsdale, Arizona and we look forward to receiving your incredible donations. If you don’t have an item to donate, please consider a cash donation of $50. Staff will purchase Silent Auction items on your behalf in Scottsdale to include in the auction.


 ARC Membership Keeps Climbing

By Rebecca Colnar

Membership Committee Chairperson

At our 2014 annual meeting, ARC set a goal of 100 members for 2015. I’m happy to report that we have passed that goal and now boast 113 members. That includes 89 new and renewed members, 19 ACT student members and 5 national officers. That’s exciting! What’s really exciting is there are still more potential members to recruit and some who still need to renew. Part of ARC’s membership benefits include webinars, and it was exciting to have one on social media monitoring last month. The workshop was informative and provided good insight and tips for those who want to learn more. Our Rocky Mountain High Annual Conference in late June in Denver promises to be stellar with great speakers and tours. Of course, I always contend the very best reason to join ARC, besides professional development, is the people. ARC is made of professionals across the spectrum of ag communications, and that is what makes a membership so valuable. If you’re in a marketing communications agency, you meet association communications people from across the country. If you work for an association, you meet government agency people. Government professionals meet corporate ag professionals. It is a wonderful organization for networking.

Urge colleagues and business associates involved in agriculture to join ARC today. Have them drop me or our ARC office a note and we’ll get them any information they need and sign them up. Then encourage them to come to our annual meeting. Once they see, they will believe. With the continued growing need for ag communicators, ARC is the organization to help you improve all of your communication skills.

On a final note, we have a new member from Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company. I can already see what state is going to get the vote for a future conference! Welcome to all of our new members; to all of those renewed ARC members—thanks for coming back.








Spring Calendar of Events

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

June 24-26, 2015

ARC Annual Meeting

The Magnolia Hotel

Denver, Colorado


July 27-28, 2015

ARC/AMS Silent Auction

Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch, Scottsdale, AZ


New ARC Members 2nd Quarter 2015

ARC welcomes the following new members:


Hilary Bingham, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company

Bryan Bjerke, Paulsen

Wayne Carlson, broadhead

Sally Credille, Osborn Barr

Beth Davis, AdFarm

Kylie Deniz, Lessing-Flynn Advertising

Kayla Hedrick, Osborn Barr

Laura Hirschman, Swanson Russell

Melissa Kessler, U.S. Grains Council

Lyndsey Murphy, American Farm Bureau Federation

Katelyn Parsons, U.S. Grains Council

Noel Perkins, Florida Dairy Farmers

Kelly Reilly, Osborn Barr

R. Kelly Schwalbe, BCS Communications

Josh St. Peters, Osborn Barr

Hannah Thompson, Animal Agriculture Alliance

Sharlet Tiegen, Demeter Communications



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