Posted by: Kristy on December 15, 2014

Posted in: Newsletter, Uncategorized, Updates

A Great 2014 Leads Us to Greater Heights in 2015 – And We Need You

Mike_Opperman_399x399_web_r1By Mike Opperman

ARC Board President                                        

Flipping the calendar to another year causes pause to reflect on a year gone by with an excited eye toward future events. Looking back, your organization had another significant year of growth. More than 100 members, improved revenues and continued support from industry through sponsorships helped strengthen the ARC bottom line. There was more for membership to benefit from as well, with additional professional development opportunities and resources to further the skill set for public relations professionals. Another well-attended, insightful annual meeting helped provide those in attendance with terrific learning opportunities. That annual meeting also helped award great work through the Golden ARC program while recognizing two more significant past ARC leaders who were inducted into the ARC Hall of Fame – Gary Myers and Richard Howell.

The board also developed and put into place a strategic plan that will help guide future ARC growth. A significant part of that future growth, and a strong goal for 2015, is to continue to grow our membership. While membership programs will help make that happen, membership benefits are what bring value to your investment in ARC. We are looking forward to more professional development opportunities in 2015 through webinars, information on the ARC website, another terrific annual meeting program and other resources to help you grow your skill set.

But even as certain as it is that the calendar will turn to 2015 on Jan. 1, it’s equally as certain that you won’t benefit from these resources if you’re not a member. So take the time to give yourself a gift this Holiday season and renew your ARC membership before the end of the year. And keep right on giving by encouraging someone else to join.

While you’re at it, give a nod to supporting ARC through a corporate sponsorship. Industry support of ARC continues to grow as agencies and organizations realize the value in investing in the professional development opportunities available through ARC. In fact, more agencies understand the importance of supporting ARC, but there are still more who can get on board! See separate article in this issue for more details.

So as good as 2014 was, 2015 is shaping up to be even better. And as 2014 comes to a close, all of us on the ARC board of directors and staff wish you and yours a safe and joyous holiday season.


 2015 ARC Meeting Set for Denver!

ARC Annual Meeting June 23-25 at Magnolia Hotel

Den New OrleansBy Den Gardner

Executive Director


“Rocky Mountain High – ARC” is set for June 23-25 in Denver at the Magnolia Hotel.

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

Although the schedule for Denver is still tentative, these are some of the current plans for the program:

Wednesday, June 24

Can social and digital media be measured inexpensively? This hands-on presentation and Q&A 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.Denver 2

  • Protecting Pollinators Workshop

We’re also working on structuring a workshop session to cover pollinator-related topics such as:

  1. Is there really a pollinator “crisis”?
  2. What’s the latest science?
  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?

We’re still in the early stages of structuring this session, and want to look at the pollinator issue from as many angles as time allows. We are currently reaching out to potential panelists for this session. If you have any suggestions please contact Sally Behringer at


  • “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.” Tentatively planned is a panel with the Denver Post/The Cannabist marijuana editor, the Colorado 420 Coalition and a possible grower.Denver



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


  • The evening reception/dinner will feature our Hall of Fame awards program for the 2015 inductees.


Thursday, June 25


  • Tours that are tentatively scheduled for Thursday include the Cargill Ft. Morgan plant. This is the “infamous” plant toured by Oprah Winfrey and featured on her former daily talk show. We will discuss the PR tools used and the lessons learned from this high-profile event. Then we will head to the Oskar Blues Brewery’s Hops and Heifers Farm (where they grow their own hops to brewing the beer and feed the distillers’ grains to the cattle they raise for the beef they serve in the restaurant). While at the farm we will enjoy a BBQ lunch delivered by Oskar Blues’ “Barnstormin’ Smokateria on Wheels” Bonewagon food truck. 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.Magnolia Hotel Denver

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’re thrilled 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!”


See you this summer in Denver!




Corporate Sponsors Help ARC to Record Involvement

Corporate sponsors are a major ingredient in the growth of ARC from a professional standpoint as it helps fund our professional development at the annual meeting, manage our Hall of Fame awards and other association initiatives.

For 2015, ARC has a record number of sponsors and revenue. And we’re still at it and there’s time for you to be part of the new ARC next year and years ahead. Sponsorships in ARC are in the $750 to $2,500 range. Be a part of the re-birth of ARC and assist us in making our great organization better in the years ahead.

We’d like to thank all of our 2014 and 2015 sponsors. All help support professional development through our annual meeting, webinars, award programs and more.


Agri Marketing magazine – Hall of Fame

American Farm Bureau

Bader Rutter

Beef Checkoff

Charleston│ Orwig



Gardner & Gardner Communications

National Cotton Council

National Pork Board



South Carolina Farm Bureau

Swanson Russell

If you’re interested in being a sponsor of ARC, please contact Executive Director Den Gardner at 952/758-5811 or email us at


 Golden ARC Awards Contest Increases in Value

By Amy Keith McDonald, Golden ARC Program Co-Manager


Just as gold has gained value through the years, the Golden ARC Awards Contest continues to improve and increase in worth. This year, the 2015 Contest will incorporate somePicture1 new categories to best meet the ever-evolving work conducted by professionals in agricultural public relations. And, to better meet the demanding schedules of busy PR experts, the Contest will now offer the conveniences of an online submission process.

Contest categories were adapted after a committee of ARC members evaluated the 2014 divisions as compared to the current body of work created across the nation by PR professionals. The members recommended the addition of several categories, with special focus on digital submissions. The new category listing, including additional opportunities in both the Campaigns and the Tactics Divisions, will be announced on Jan. 1 on the Contest Facebook page. If you have not already “liked” the page on Facebook, be sure to do so to be among the first ARC members to see the new categories.

The online entry procedure also marks a big change for this year’s Contest. ARC members and non-members submitting entries of materials conducted in full or partially during 2014 will complete their entry form online before the final submission deadline of Friday, March 6th. Entrants will then have the option of either printing (or saving to a disk) and mailing in their submission in physical form, or completing the entry form online and uploading the digital file(s) of their entry. In either case, the entry form will be found and completed online, and the payment will be made through Paypal or a mailed check.

The Golden ARC Awards contest honors the stellar work created by professionals in the agricultural industry. Reinstituted in 2010, the format and requirements for the Golden ARC Awards are similar to other leading PR awards programs, based on best practices for public relations and public affairs campaigns and tactics.

Categories fall into two divisions – Campaigns and Tactics. A student category is also available, with free entry to student ARC members. Categories reflect the broad scope of public relations and public affairs activities today, including campaigns and a range of tactics, from traditional media releases to social media. The Golden ARC de Excellence award for the best all-around entry in the campaigns division will also be awarded. The winners will receive their honors at the ARC annual meeting, June 23-25th in Denver, CO.

The Golden ARC Awards Program began in 1990 and came to be recognized as the most esteemed award in the agricultural public relations industry. The restructured Contest reflects the many hats worn by today’s PR practitioner – with categories recognizing everything from full campaigns to tactics such as media relations and innovative new uses of social media. More information is available at or at the ARC website,


“Park” Your Best Work in 2015, for 2016!

New Online Entry Simplifies Golden ARC Awards Contest

By Amy Keith McDonald, Golden ARC Program Co-Manager

We may be thinking ahead, but…Throughout 2015, professionals interested in entering the 2016 Golden ARC Awards Contest (for work conducted in full or partially in 2015), can “park” their best work, in digital files of various formats such as PDF, word documents, etc., on the contest website throughout the year, in a folder password protected for their unique access. Then, when it is time for entries to be due, the entrants can go back and choose which materials, already conveniently located in one place, they choose to submit and can complete the forms online. No last-minute rush to choose and find those files, print them off and find fresh materials to submit, or to paste to foam core and buy a bundle of notebooks.

So, start 2015 off right! Visit after Jan. 1 and create an account to enter NEXT year’s Contest. Then, each time you archive a file of the good work you do during 2015, save a version to the online folder. You can pick and choose your best to submit a year from now, from the files all conveniently located in one place. (Learn more about this year’s Contest changes at, on or after New Year’s Day, 2015.)


ARC Reinstates Scholarship Program for University Students Studying Ag Communications

The Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) has reinstated the scholarship program for college students studying ag communications. Through our newly established Foundation, ARC will grant one $1,500 scholarship for the 2015-2016 school year.

“We are excited to begin this scholarship program again,” said Executive Director Den Gardner. “We hope to provide more scholarships in the future, and this is our first step.”

ARC conducted a scholarship program up until about 10 years ago. Through the financial contributions of recent Hall of Fame recipients Richard Howell and Gary Myers, along with pledges from several others in the organization, ARC will now award its scholarship in the spring. Donors include Daren Williams, Amy McDonald and Bob Giblin.

“ARC believes in promoting careers in ag PR and this is one more effort to accomplish that goal,” said Mike Opperman, president of the ARC board of directors.

In October, notices were sent to universities and college announcing the program. Students have until March 1, 2015, to submit their applications. Among those contacted are the Ag Communicators of Tomorrow (ACT) students through its state chapters.

ARC members are encouraged to help spread the word about the ARC Scholarship. If you know of a student interested in applying for the scholarship, please direct them to the website or direct all questions to the ARC office; email ARC at, phone: 952/758-5811.


Applications Due March 15 for New Inductees of Ag PR Hall of Fame

Nominations are due March 15 for the Agricultural Public Relations Hall of Fame, an award program honoring agricultural public relations professionals who have made lifetime contributions to the industry.

The program, sponsored by the Agricultural Relations Council and Agri Marketing magazine, will recognize its fourth group of recipients at the June 2015 ARC annual meeting in Denver, CO.


Previous winners have been:

 Daren Williams, The Beef Check Off, Inductees Richard Howell and  Gary Myers, ARC President Mike Opperman, Charleston Orwig (Shown Left to Right)

Daren Williams, The Beef Check Off, Inductees Richard Howell and Gary Myers, ARC President Mike Opperman, Charleston Orwig (Shown Left to Right)

    • Don Lerch
    • Lyle Orwig
    • John Harvey
    • Paul Weller
    • Richard Howell
    • Gary Myers    


Nominees must be current or past members of ARC to be considered. Inductees will be selected based on criteria including:

  • Years of membership in ARC;
  • Service to ARC (president, board member, committee chair, etc.);
  • Professional accomplishments/achievements in ag communications; and
  • Awards/Recognition in service to ag communications within ARC and also outside of the organization.

“We had a tremendous response to our Hall of Fame award program and another stellar class of honorees will be inducted in Denver next June,” said ARC Board President Mike Opperman. “This is the single-best opportunity for the industry to recognize the professionals who’ve shaped agricultural public relations.”

For 2015, up to two inductees will be chosen. Nominations will be reviewed and chosen by a committee of ARC members.

“We hope all members of the agricultural communications community will consider nominating a deserving individual,” said ARC Hall of Fame committee chair Reggie Hall, of South Carolina Farm Bureau. “Recognition of this type not only honors the individual, but validates all of the professionals who work in agricultural public relations every day.”

For additional questions/information, please call the ARC office at: 952/758-5811 to the web site at: Or E-mail ARC at



ARC Silent Auction at AMS is a Success

By Kristy Mach

The ARC Silent auction at the Ag Media Summit raised nearly $4500.  The funds benefit youth programs and will be split between ARC and AMS.  In total, 66 items were donated, and all of our ARC board members donated to the silent auction.

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.

Auction 2 Auction 3 Auction








Don’t forget ARC this holiday season

By Rebecca Colnar

Membership Committee Chairperson

During the busy holiday season, it’s easy to forget to do some important things—like pay the electrical bill (“Why is it so cold in this house?”); leave the bottle of champagne in the car when it hits sub-zero (“Uh-oh”) and, most importantly, pay your ARC 2015 dues. Take a moment to either write a check to ARC or get online and renew your membership. To date, there are 31 renewed and six new members, bringing our total to 37 member. However, there are still 63 unrenewed members; if you’re an unrenewed member, you know who you are.

ARC keeps improving every year, from adding webinars to having an excellent new website. We continue to be a great way for colleagues to network, and our annual conference in June features unique speakers focused on public relations, communications and, yes, food. We hope you can join us in Denver in late June.

It’s easy to renew your membership or join online; but if you prefer, print out an application and mail the check. Dues are $190 for the first member joining from a company, with $115 for the second and additional.

I’d like to welcome six new members for 2015 thus far: Nancy Anderson (Texas A&M AgriLife), Kari Barbic (Am. Farm Bureau Federation), Carly Barnes (Ketchum), Cassie Becker (GROWMARK Inc.), Sue Dillon (Paradowski Creative) and Will Rodger (American Farm Bureau Federation). Be sure to reach out and thank these new members for their belief in the advancement of quality public relations.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to help surface more members, send me an email ( or give me a call (307-461-0150). Together we can keep ARC growing in membership and offering meaningful membership benefits as we head into 2015. We’ve gone from about a dozen members five years ago to more than 100 today. Let’s all play a role in keeping our momentum going. Have a wonderful holiday season!


When Activists Have You Up Against the Ropes

Activists against the ropesCome Out Swinging – ARC’s October webinar focused on a water rights case study and how social media was used to influence legislation. Michael Rentiers, Managing Partner for Push Advocacy, and Reginald Hall, Promotion and Education Division Director for the SC Farm Bureau Federation, presented details on a strategy to help stop legislative attempts to repeal a South Carolina surface water withdraw law.

“People are getting their views from the Internet and making decisions based on what they see and read. For better or worse, that is what is happening. Lies and misinformation can spread faster that it’s ever been done before.” says Michael Rentiers. “If you are not on guard or proactively shaping your own messages on the Internet, you are already a step behind.”

The South Carolina Farm Bureau (SCFB ) launched a digital campaign utilizing a micro site ( ) that focused only on the specific issue. Additional tactics utilized targeted email campaigns to South Carolina legislature, contextual search ads on the water rights issues, and social media to help share and spread the message. These approaches helped turn the tide in public option, and grew the SCFB Facebook likes to 14,000 from 1,000 in six months.

This case study webinar is available (below) to ARC members as part of their membership at The password, case sensitive, is: ARCWater7827

Also, here is a PDF of the presentation:


Winter Calendar of Events

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

January 30, 2015

Golden ARC Contest Early Bird Deadline


March 6, 2015

Golden ARC Contest Final Deadline


March 1, 2015

Applications due for Scholarship Program for University Students Studying Ag Communications


March 15, 2015

Applications due for New Inductees of Ag PR Hall of Fame


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 1st Quarter 2015

ARC welcomes the following new members:

Nancy Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife

Kari Barbic, American Farm Bureau Federaion

Cassie Becker, GROWMARK Inc.

Sue Dillon, Paradowski Creative

Will Rodger, American Farm Bureau Federation

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