Posted by: arcadmin on December 9, 2013

Posted in: Newsletter

Making Sure We Don’t End Up Somewhere Else

By Mike Opperman, ARC Board President


That infamous orator Yogi Berra once said “If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.” Recently the ARC board members got together to identify a path forward for the organization, so we don’t end up somewhere else!

Any organization is not worth its weight if it doesn’t provide value to its membership. Through surveys and personal communications with members, it’s pretty clear that the value ARC provides centers around professional development. In recent history, ARC has facilitated opportunities for professional development through the newsletter, the annual meeting, the Golden ARC program and by creating opportunities to network with other agriculture and business-to-business public relations professionals. While this platform has served to help rebuild the organization, much more has to be added to the professional development framework to serve short and long term member needs.

Your board of directors has set out to build this framework, starting with the development of a strategic plan. In building this plan, we asked board members for a response to one simple question: What does ARC want to be in five years? The answers to this question are the big red star on the map signifying the desired destination. Here is a snapshot of the answers, in no particular order of importance:

A significant provider of professional development resources for public relations professionals involved in agriculture and the greater food system

An organization with young people as a foundation. ARC should provide value to junior PR professionals so they can grow within their careers and the greater agriculture industry.

The facilitator of the Golden ARC awards program, the premier recognition program in the ag public relations industry.

An organization that values its history, signified through a robust and two-year-old Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame program (started by ARC).

A “right-sized” organization. We’ll guard against getting too big, lest we lose the professional intimacy that is a hallmark of the organization.

An organization with the technological tools (e.g., web site, social media, etc.) to lead the next generation of ag communicators to target the right audience (consumer or ag) with the right messages.

With these goals in our headlights, we mapped out a path for accomplishing these objectives. Our first step will be to learn from you, the members of ARC. This summer you will see a survey in your email inbox that helps us identify the challenges you will face over the course of the next five years, and what resources you need to meet those challenges.  Results will go a long way to determine what tools ARC can develop to help you along your professional development path.

We already have some ideas in place that we think you’ll enjoy. A revamped website is one of them, so we can provide greater access to content and enhance member engagement. Webinars will also be developed as well, featuring information on topics that surface from the research. A user-friendly membership directory will provide members with a protected list to contact any member by phone or email. A stellar annual meeting is planned for Madison, Wis. in June 2014. And there will be more to come.

If you have other ideas for how ARC can better serve you, by all means send them to me Over the recent years we’ve re-built a pretty sturdy ARC ship. We’re working on setting the best course and filling the ship with the tools and resources necessary to get us to our destination. The best part – we’re all in this together!



2014 ARC Meeting Set!
ARC Annual Meeting: New Time, New Location, New Format, New Excitement!

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

There is no doubt that the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) is back. It’s back with:

• A membership of well more than 100 members, including students studying for ag communications degrees from across the country through a new program sponsored by CCI Marketing and Gardner & Gardner Communications.

• The Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame, which now has recognized four great long-time public relations veterans – Don Lerch, Lyle Orwig, John Harvey, and Paul Weller. More will be added during our 2014 program. This program is sponsored by ARC and AgriMarketing magazine.

• A re-invented and vibrant Golden Arc Awards program, which now recognizes the best ag public relations work – from tactics to campaigns.

• Collaborations with the Ag Media Summit (silent auction) and NAMA (PR programming) are providing the organization with relevant forays to enhance ag communications with other like-minded organizations.

• Continued development of accreditation programs with PRSA to provide additional professional development for members beyond the annual meeting and webinars.

• A soon-to-be re-organized web site that is more user-friendly and useful to our membership.

Madison Here We Come

MadisonConcourseHotelAlthough the 2014 annual meeting is still a year off, we now are excited to announce that the annual meeting of the organization is being moved from the winter each year to the early summer. That means June 2014 for the Madison, WI, meeting. In addition, the format is changing to provide more professional development for the meeting, as another half-day of additional programming for its members is being planned.

So, mark your calendars for Madison on June 24-26, 2014, at the historic Madison Concourse Hotel. Named as Madison Magazine’s “Best Hotel” by its Readers’ Poll, the downtown hotel is one of the nation’s premier independent hotels. ARC members will get a rate of just $149 per night. The hotel is located near the State Capitol and State Street. It is conveniently located near all of Madison’s vibrant night-life and the University of Wisconsin Madison campus.

MadisonConcourseHotelRoomFor those members looking for professional development, the format for the meeting will now look like this at the 2014 meeting:

Tuesday, June 24 – Board meeting and dinner. (Any members are allowed to attend.)

Wednesday, June 25 – Registration at 8:30 a.m., with the meeting beginning at 9 a.m. Meetings will run throughout the day.

Thursday, June 26 – ARC business meeting, followed by Madison-area farm tours. Upon returning from the tours, the evening banquet will feature the Golden ARC Awards presentation, along with the naming of the most recent inductees in the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame.

Do you want to be on the program committee for 2014? Please contact ARC Board President Mike Opperman ( or the ARC office — Den or Barb – (

“We’re thrilled to be hosting the ARC meeting in our home state,” says Mike Opperman, board president of ARC. “Wisconsin is rich in agricultural history and production and ARC members will find our state enticing from so many aspects. Our capital city is a great place to be and we promise a program that will provide great professional development.”

A Little About Wisconsin

A leading agricultural state, Madison lies in the midst of fertile land, where dairy has always been the leading ag production segment. But did you know that it also leads the nation in production of snap beans, cranberries and ginseng? Other highlights include:

• Wisconsin’s fertile upland soils are well suited for alfalfa production, helping to feed  1.26 million dairy cows.

• Each year, Wisconsin growers harvest more than 1.8 million Christmas trees

• Dairy cows in the U.S. eat more than 800 million bushels of corn. Livestock eat an additional 1.1 billion bushels in the form of distillers dried grains from ethanol production.

• Wisconsin chicken farms produce 1.35 billion eggs.

• Wisconsin cheese makers produce more than 650 different varieties, types and styles of cheese.

• State mink producers produce 886,000 pelts each year – tops in the nation.

• Sale of cattle and calves account for $726 million in farm income annually.

• Wisconsin ranks #1 in dairy goats with 46,000 head.

• Dairy accounts for nearly 40% of all Wisconsin agriculture jobs, employing 146,200 people in the state.

• Wisconsin leads the nation in both the number and diversity of dairy farms. Our 13,000 dairy farms include rotational grazing operations, organic producers, and conventional dairy operations of all sizes.

• Wisconsin leads the nation in the number of on-farm bio-energy systems with 31 methane digesters installed and more planned. Methane digesters are being used on farms to turn manure into renewable bio-energy. Using this technology, five cows can provide enough power for an average size home, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

• The average farm size in Wisconsin is 195 acres.

• Wisconsin’s agriculture industry generates $59.16 billion in economic activity annually.

• Over 99% of Wisconsin’s farms are family-owned.

• More than 353,991 Wisconsin citizens, 10% of our workforce, rely directly on agriculture for their jobs.

Watch for more information from ARC in the near future on the program for the meeting.



AMS Silent Auction Proceeds Nearly $4,000 in 2012 – Looking for 2013 Items from ARC Members

By Den Gardner

ams12auction1The 2012 Ag Media Summit Silent Auction raised nearly $4,000 in Albuquerque last year. Now, the 2013 AMS in Buffalo is seeking items for this year’s auction. The auction is managed by the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) with net profits split between ARC and the AMS. This is the fifth year of the silent auction collaboration.

“We are very pleased with the overall results and want to thank everyone who donated something to last year’s auction,” said Barb Ulschmid, associate director of ARC and manager of the auction. “We had 40+ items in the auction. This year we’re hoping for even more.”  The deadline for donating items this year is July 26.

ARC board members all contributed an item to the auction last year, along with many ARC members.

ams12auction2The silent auction in the past four years has averaged about $3,500 annually in donations. “We would really like to take the auction to the next level,” Barb said. “We are looking at some new creative ideas to get more items with higher values this year.”

Members can donate an item or provide a cash donation and committee members will purchase appropriate items for the auction this year in Buffalo. We need YOU to bring or ship an item to help us raise funds for this event. Whether you decide to donate a corporate wearable, a signed book or a beautiful piece of art … remember, the donation must be worth at least $50 and will benefit the agricultural communications industry for years to come.

If creative thinking eludes you, just send a donation to the Barb at the ARC office. Your generous donation combined with Barb’s and Amy’s “shopping skills” will enable them to add some beautiful local flavor to the auction. Dig deep, find that white elephant, empty out the Schlotzsky’s closet or visit your favorite store. Bring us a silent auction item to be remembered!

ams12auction3The dollars raised by the two organizations are used for programs to emphasize future ag communicators. “ARC is pleased to collaborate with the AMS partners in this program,” Barb added. “It’s another way for us to help promote agricultural public relations and raise money for those who are the future of our industry.”

Items also can be delivered or shipped directly to the Hyatt Regency in Buffalo at Two Fountain Plaza, Buffalo, NY 14202. For larger items, you may take pictures to go along with the Bid Sheet and wait to ship to the winning bidder AFTER the auction.

For further information please contact Barb Ulschmid or Amy McDonald. Barb can be contact at 952-758-5811 or email the ARC office at Amy can be reached at 254-445-4333 or


Membership Continues to Grow in ARC

By Rebecca Colnar, Membership Chair, ARC

Can’t believe it’s already time to write for the ARC Light for summer.  Finally the weather has turned pleasant and it’s a good time to enjoy the outdoors. It’s also a good time to get your colleagues to join ARC. At the strategic planning meeting by the ARC board on May 31, the board discussed how to add value to an ARC membership. Of course there are the Golden ARC Awards, Hall of Fame, excellent annual conference and networking. But we also agreed that making an easily accessible job bank and providing professional development webinars were other good ways to make the ARC membership worth your money. And we’ll be working on those efforts this summer.

Speaking of money, ARC is still offering the $87.50 membership (half price!) to the end of the year for NEW members of the association, so we encourage colleagues to join today.  ARC currently has 65 renewed members, 30 new members and 23 Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) students, thanks to the generosity of Warren Clark and Den Gardner. We’re over the 100-member goal, but we can’t rest on our laurels. Call a few folks and get them to sign up.

The last thing to say is when the board discussed what was most important about ARC, the greatest benefit everyone saw focused on the quality of our membership. Whether you’re a freelancer who has the opportunity to meet the owner of a large ag marketing communications agency, or a livestock or commodity association that wants to discuss high-level strategy with a farm organization, ARC is all about the people you get to know.  At the risk of sounding sappy—although ARC is a great organization that can enable you to expand your professional networking base and career development–there’s also a very good chance you’ll make some truly great friends along the way.

Contact the office at for more information. Ask for Den or Barb. Have a great summer.


Can You Be Great at Public Relations?

By John Blue, Truffle Media

Can you be great at public relations (PR)? Absolutely. But it takes practice and experience. To be really great at PR means gaining experience on hard hitting issues. Along the way you may make your way through the launch of a new product, save the reputation of someone, or run point on a media attack on your organization.

But before those experiences come you way, you need some training and insight. So how can you get better at PR?

People One common sense recommendation is to talk with other people practicing PR. Part of this is learning about who is who. And part of the personal connection is about hearing the “war stories” first hand. Those people who have been through a PR high or low can offer insights that are hard to come by in training sessions or books.

Those work in public relations know there are many associations that can be help in professional development in this field. One of course is the Agricultural Relations Council. Others would include the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), The National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA), The American Agricultural Editors’ Association (AAEA) and more. All can provide insight on how to apply tools and techniques, develop strategies and practices, and to meet others interested in PR.

Another path to meeting people involved with PR are journalists. Yes, they are writers for news and publishing organizations. But these people also have to understand the issues and be able to handle criticism, feedback, and (sometimes) backlash. Some reporters/editors take on the challenge to discover what is behind the PR  and pull out undiscovered information. They have expertise to understand PR and use tools to analyze the issues.

One journalist organization to consider is the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) group. This organization focuses on the investigative journalism that faces PR all the time. They offer several events throughout the year for networking and training.

Tools Tools help you be efficient with your time or help extend you abilities. Below are some tools to help people be better at PR.

Help a Report Out (HARO) is a resource reporters use to post questions, relying on someone in the large crowd of HARO readers to supply answers or comments.

The Data Journalism Handbook is full of technology tools and approaches to organizing information and understanding how to use it. This resource guide is a free book on line and inexpensive as a Kindle book.

RSS Readers help you scan large quantities of information quickly. While Google Reader maybe going away, there are other services to help. Best recommendation is Feedly.

Movies: Alternatives To Training Believe it or not, many movies use PR in their plots. For example, Thank You For Not Smoking, a movie about the tobacco industry, has many angles on PR throughout the film. Business Insider even complied The Top 10 Best PR Movies Of All Time list. While the movies are fiction, many of the approaches and techniques are based on real life experiences.

  • Help a Report Out (HARO)
  • The Data Journalism Handbook
  • RSS Readers
  • Movies: Alternatives To Training

For more information, contact me at 317-450-1958, Or contact Den Gardner at the Ag Relations Council office – 952-758-5811,



Calendar of Events

August 5-6, 2013
ARC/AMS Silent Auction
Hyatt Regency, Buffalo, NY
Monday, August 5, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Open for bidding
Tuesday, August 6, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Open for bidding
Bidding closes on Tuesday, August 6th at 2 p.m.
Go to for additional auction info.

June 24-26, 2014
ARC Annual Meeting
Madison Concourse Hotel
Madison, WI



New ARC Members 3rd Quarter 2013

ARC welcomes the following new members:
G.B. Crawford, Florida Farm Bureau
John Montandon, DairyBusiness Communications

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