Digital Media's Evolution and Impact on Telling Agricultures Story


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Digital media has had a significant effect on how ag communicators deliver content to audiences. Paulsen public relations talked with prominent ag journalists and communicators about how digital media has transformed the way news is gathered and what marketers can do to make sure their message breaks through the digital deluge.

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Digital Media's Evolution and Impact on Telling Agricultures Story

  1. 1. Digital Media’s Evolution and Impact on Telling Agriculture’s Story By: Bryan Bjerke and Krystil Smit
  2. 2. The Information Age has matured immensely in the last 20 years. Journalists and public relations professionals have gone from ripping wire copy and reading faxes to monitoring Twitter and stalking smartphones. Digital media has been a game-changer for ag communicators to deliver content to audiences. Paulsen public relations spoke with prominent ag communicators who shared insight about how digital media has transformed the way news is gathered, delivered and how agriculture’s story is told. Their dialogue in this Thought Paper describes key trends and behind-the-scenes secrets that marketers and PR professionals can use to reach media and consumers of content with effective and interactive messages. We’ll share inside information about the way ag journalists are using new digital tools and explore how mobile technology will influence the future of digital. 1
  3. 3. 2 A special thanks from Paulsen to all who participated in this study. Charlie Arnot is the CEO of the Center for Food Integrity John Blue is chief of community creation for Truffle Media Jeff Caldwell is a multimedia editor for Successful Farming Justin Davey is a mobile media producer at Meredith Publishing Gregg Hillyer is editor in chief for Progressive Farmer Bart Johnson edits and publishes Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net
  4. 4. 3 Lynn Ketelsen is the farm director for the Linder Farm Network Mark Lambert is the senior communications manager for the National Corn Growers Association Amanda Radke is a South Dakota rancher and the daily blog editor for BEEF Magazine Tom Steever is a broadcast journalist with the Brownfield Network Willie Vogt is the editorial director at Farm Progress Companies Chuck Zimmerman is president of ZimmComm New Media Gary Cooper president of Southeast Agnet Randy Wanke DuPont Pioneer Communications Manager
  5. 5. 4 Thanks to digital media, reporters and editors have been joined by bloggers and other citizen journalists taking advantage of the open access we all now have to information and opinion. The technology has also created new challenges for editors and reporters. From Mass Communication to Masses of Communicators What opportunities has digital media created? Charlie Arnot, the CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, sums it up. WATCH NOW
  6. 6. 5 It is now a digital democracy, with every owner of a smartphone and a blog or a Twitter account becoming a voice that is heard. It also creates opportunities that didn’t exist before. For Jeff Caldwell, multimedia editor, Successful Farming, digital media has created the opportunity to be more connected with his audience. Digital media has allowed journalists and audiences to connect and form mutually beneficial relationships. Hear what Jeff Caldwell, multimedia editor, Successful Farming, thinks about the benefits of digital media. WATCH NOW
  7. 7. 6 Caldwell also believes a line between traditional media and social media no longer exists. TAKEAWAYS: • Digital media has closed the gap between communicators and audiences. • Opportunities to harvest information, collaborate and connect with masses of communicators are abundant. • All media is social. Social media is already an antiquated term. It’s all social now to one degree or another. Jeff Caldwell “ “
  8. 8. 7 Ag Journalism’s Shifting Ground For ag journalists, the way to cover a story and convey ideas has changed forever. Radio, TV, print reporters, writers and editors have to know how to gather news in every format. Ag broadcasters have also seen the change. They’re used to the immediacy of a story and meeting deadlines, but their reporting is now taking other aspects of telling the story into play, including photojournalism and social media activities. Willie Vogt, editorial director at Farm Progress Companies, believes media must be intuitive and adaptive to readers’ needs. WATCH NOW
  9. 9. 8 How has broadcast journalism changed? Tom Steever, broadcast journalist with the Brownfield Network shares his perspective. TAKEAWAYS: • Anticipating what the audience wants and when and where they want it is a competitive necessity. • Journalists today must have diversified skills incorporating traditional journalism, photojournalism, videography, digital and social media and content marketing. Tom Steever, broadcast journalist with the Brownfield Network notes it’s not just putting a story together for the air anymore, but digital media allows him to cover a story more in-depth. WATCH NOW
  10. 10. 9 Wide Open Spaces Professional journalists, who once were confined to column inches and seconds of news, now share their print space and airtime with citizen journalists who use Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social media outlets. News and information today is delivered through wide-open spaces. News and opinion lines have blurred with the opportunity for anyone with a viewpoint to share it with “authority.” Those media that embrace social spaces say it’s a way to start conversations and learn what audiences are talking about. The inside-out and outside-in, multi-way exchange can be advantageous. Willie Vogt thinks bloggers have become a great source of information. I know we have these citizen bloggers. They’re a great source. They’re going to give us a great heads-up on the things we need to be aware of.“ “ Willie Vogt
  11. 11. 10 Verifying sources has taken on a new look and accelerated speed, as journalists and bloggers can attest. Immediacy of news has increased personal responsibility on journalists. How do you deal with verifying news in regards to digital media? Chuck Zimmerman, president of ZimmComm New Media, has firsthand experience. He’s an active agriblogger and farm podcaster. WATCH NOW
  12. 12. 11 TAKEAWAYS: • Because of digital media, journalists are less confined to traditional dimensions and they use social spaces to increase information distribution and gather information from audiences. • Citizen bloggers have become a source for journalists, and multi-way communication can be illuminating. • Verifying information and confirming sources has become more challenging.
  13. 13. 12 Turning Technology into Results As the digital landscape continues to change and grow, it becomes more and more essential for ag communicators to not only adapt to the changes, but look for ways to take the cool toys of the present, such as smartphones that also double as cameras and HD video recorders, and turn them into cool tools that will enhance communication and understanding through strategies and tactics. As editor in chief of Progressive Farmer, Gregg Hillyer looks forward to what’s on the horizon for technology tools. WATCH NOW
  14. 14. 13 In the last five years, the number of devices capable of receiving information has expanded. People expect the news to come to them. They’re not going to seek out the news; they want it delivered to them. Amanda Radke, a South Dakota rancher and daily blog editor for BEEF magazine, has seen a shift in reader expectations and qualifications journalists must have. Today’s reader expects the news to come to them. So it’s our job to put it in front of them in every venue we can. We have to be multi-faceted in journalism. Amanda Radke “ “
  15. 15. 14 How are media producers using digital tools to interact with audiences? Learn one example from Justin Davey, mobile media producer at Meredith Publishing. TAKEAWAYS: • Readers and listeners expect their news to come to them. • Mobile technology has engaged new audiences. Being multi-faceted allows journalists to reach diverse audiences. WATCH NOW
  16. 16. 15 The Digital Media Evolution — WHAT’S NEXT? Digital media has revolutionized how ag communicators interact with consumers of their content, enabling connections at levels which traditional media could not offer alone. Ag communicators have adapted digital media to meet the expectation from audiences for instant information. This robust understanding of the evolution of ag journalists’ roles due to technology and how they’re using digital media to tell agriculture’s story, will prepare us for what’s next on the horizon. In the next section, we’ll explore how emerging technologies and market intelligence will accelerate both the demand for, and ability of, communicators to deliver intuitive content to consumers. The future is here …
  17. 17. 16 The Digital Media Evolution and Ag Communication: What’s Next and What Works Mobilizing the Future In the second part of our Thought Paper, we will explore how the changes in digital media can work for ag communicators who are trying to get their specific story told in an increasingly flooded marketplace. So where are we headed? What does the future look like for digital media and agriculture? Digital media continues to evolve with changes in both the way we send information and the way we receive it. There are new smartphones and tablets coming on the market virtually every day. And then there’s HTML5, which promises to improve the way multimedia is understood by computers and devices.
  18. 18. 17 According to a recent survey conducted by Prosper Mobile Insights, half of smartphone and tablet users (51.1%) say they now check their email using only their mobile device. Overall, 7 in 10 smartphone or tablet users (69.3%) conduct at least one web-based activity solely with their device: • 45.3% admit to mobile-only Internet searches. • 42.3% connect with friends on Facebook sans stationary computers or other Internet-capable devices. • 29.6% say they conduct all their online banking on a mobile device. How important is mobile to the media? Jeff Caldwell offers a thought-provoking prediction. WATCH NOW
  19. 19. 18 With growing emphasis on, and usage of, mobile for news, Jeff Caldwell points out that developing customized content for mobile devices is crucial. Chuck Zimmerman is also noticing the mobile trend. The type of content people are going to be looking for in the mobile spaces is going to change. The sophistication of the mobile user is going to grow. So too will the responsibility for us to generate things that will exceed their expectations in both content and design so they keep coming back. “ “ Jeff Caldwell WATCH NOW
  20. 20. 19 Social Content Strategy And where will that content come from? In terms of social media, according to Willie Vogt, it’s a matter of figuring out which social media outlets to follow and how to manage the resources to handle the information. How do you decide whether to dedicate time and resources to social media? Willie Vogt discusses the challenges. WATCH NOW
  21. 21. 20 Amanda Radke believes it’s important to experiment with trendy platforms such as Pinterest to engage in a different way with consumers. The newest tool I’ve been using is Pinterest. I think we have a ways to go yet before we’re utilizing it effectively but I feel like there’s ways that we can interact with our consumers through that venue as well. In my area, I really try to stick to the consumer trends and the retail side of the industry so I feel social media has really helped me reach that demographic. “ “ Amanda Radke
  22. 22. 21 Justin Davey sees the options growing, especially for mobile, as HTML5 begins to emerge. I think there’s tons of potential — mobile websites and apps. HTML5 is promising to make things much easier for mobile, and I think that could really be a game changer. There are different mobile-only features that could work really well, such as geolocating. There are so many options for mobile that I think farmers and producers could find a lot of value in. That will be a huge area of growth in the future. “ “ With each new growth spurt comes the challenge to cater news and services to users and platforms. “Mobile has come on huge in the last five years, so we’re learning the tricks of the trade, what works and what doesn’t work on different operating systems. We’re now in our third generation of mobile so our mobile audience has changed greatly,” Davey said. “We’ve been able to bring on a whole new set of audience members that are engaged through iPhones and Androids. That was virtually non-existent to now being really successful.” Justin Davey
  23. 23. 22 In the Harvard Business Review HBR Blog, “The Future Isn’t About Mobile; It’s About Mobility”, David Armano examines what mobile really means. Mobility trumps mobile. The difference between mobility and mobile is like the difference between hardware and software. Mobile is linked to devices — it is always one thing, wherever it is. But mobility changes with context: cultures incorporate mobile technologies differently. For example, in Africa, SMS technology helps farmers pay bills electronically. In America, it helps teenagers keep up with their friends — an average of 60 times a day. Mobile itself is the nuts, bolts and infrastructure, while mobility is the context which determines if it all works together or doesn’t. “ “ David Armano
  24. 24. 23 Are you analyzing new technology carefully? John Blue with Truffle Media offers key questions to consider. As the pace of technology continues to accelerate, it’s essential, according to Truffle Media’s John Blue, to first analyze and then adapt. TAKEAWAYS: • Innovations in mobile technology will allow media to deliver information instantaneously and meet the demands of audiences. • Smartphones and tablets will continue to increase their influence on the industry and ag media. • Don’t settle for technology for technology’s sake; make sure it is the best solution for your business. WATCH NOW
  25. 25. 24 Tangible News vs. Technology So where does mobile technology leave traditional forms of media? Our group of thought leaders maintains that print publications and broadcast elements will continue to hold their ground with loyal readers and listeners. Is print media fading away? Not according to Jeff Caldwell. Listen to Amanda Radke describe the role of the print publication’s footprint. WATCH NOW WATCH NOW
  26. 26. 25 Gary Cooper is the president of Southeast AgNet. He believes that the new technologies enhance traditional media. Growing up in a vegetable farm family, we always kind of had a joke — if a farmer had five sources of weather, he’s going to check five sources of weather. They may all say the same thing; they may not. I don’t think that rule changes with technology. They’re not going to abandon something they’ve grown to trust. But they’ll use other technology to keep them up to the minute with things that some traditional media may not be able to. “ “ Gary Cooper
  27. 27. 26 Bart Johnson, the editor and publisher of Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net, says that the demographics of the ag audience are trending younger but that doesn’t mean the younger audience is ignoring traditional media. Obviously it’s tracking younger. We’re finding that whether it be smartphone usage or tablet usage from farmers. What’s really interesting talking to younger farmers, they still like to read the paper. That’s that one thing. Ag is special. You look at the dailies, they’re struggling. So many young people will tell you ‘I don’t read a paper.’ I don’t know whether it’s tradition in ag, we still find a lot of those young guys still sit down and read the paper like grandpa did, like dad did. “ “ Bart Johnson
  28. 28. 27 What about the younger generation influencing the older generation with technology usage? Listen to what Gregg Hillyer has to say about younger farmers bringing the older generation to the digital table. TAKEAWAYS: • Traditional media forms will continue to provide a trusted, tangible source of reliable news, information and advertising. • The younger, more tech-savvy generation will help move the older generation to understand and utilize digital media. • Mobile will enhance opportunities and frequency of reaching diversified audiences. WATCH NOW
  29. 29. 28 The digital divide is often closing a gap between marketing and communications departments as they begin to find synergies in creating and marketing content for users. Content can be used to build credibility in tandem with attracting and nurturing customers. Those organizations that master the communication/ marketing mix are most successful in generating powerful content across all channels. Finding Common Ground How do you find the right marketing communications mix? Jeff Caldwell shares his thoughts on the matter. WATCH NOW
  30. 30. 29 Developing high-quality content entices readers and listeners to engage. Educational series or interviews with experts that solve problems or entertain readers are ways writers and marketers can share the line and reach digital users with a marketing mix of editorial and product information. One way that works well is to cultivate online communities around content and encourage third party endorsements for products and services. The outcome can be even more effective than advertising or editorial. Today’s consumer is more likely to believe a consumer review versus an advertisement. “ “ Amanda Radke
  31. 31. 30 What Works Understanding the digital media landscape is an excellent start in identifying which tactics are best to break through with a message. But ag communicators also have to understand how to reach the key influencers in ag media that can help tell the stories. How do you reach key influencers? Hear Mark Lambert, senior communications manager for the National Corn Growers Association, share how digital demands have increased the need for speed and connectivity. WATCH NOW
  32. 32. 31 Randy Wanke, communications manager for DuPont Pioneer, says being proactive in helping to shape industry messages requires dedication to monitoring a continuous news cycle. “There’s an acute awareness, not only within Pioneer but within agriculture, and it’s an awareness that needs to be there, that the way digital media works and the way the continuous news cycle works is that things turn on a dime and we need to be prepared and well-versed in social media and digital medial in a way that allows us to do two things. One is proactively help to shape the messages to help mitigate any potential issues; and then also is to be able to react in a very quick, decisive and thoughtful way,” Wanke said. “It’s made our industry and made us as communication professionals be more in tune on a 24-7 basis on what communication is taking place.” What is the secret to making an ag connection with consumers? Charlie Arnot offers great advice. WATCH NOW
  33. 33. 32 In the case of Pioneer, Wanke believes an important element is knowing the media outlet’s capabilities and understanding of agriculture. “ “ One of the struggles you have is working with reporters who don’t have a robust understanding of agriculture and really having to take that extra time to help be an educator,” Wanke said. “What I’ve really tried to focus on is first to get in their rolodex and let them know we’re here, explain who we are as a company. The value that I’ve tried to bring to the table is to say, we know this is how you cover agriculture and this is how we can help you cover it in that way. Randy Wanke
  34. 34. 33 TAKEAWAYS: • Monitoring digital media is important for brand reputation management and shaping messages. • Recognize the level of agricultural understanding and interest when approaching and pitching to journalists. • Engaging in digital media may be a company-wide initiative that requires training and identifying opportunities by multiple people. How do you make sure you’re reaching all digital channels all the time? Mark Lambert points out the extra time and steps to deliver a message take manpower and training of existing employees. WATCH NOW
  35. 35. 34 The Inside Track to Media Thinking digital and looking for opportunities becomes easier when it is coupled with the advice of ag journalists and editors about how to effectively interest them in what you have to say. Journalists and editors still rely on agrimarketers and PR firms to put them in touch with the people in agriculture who can provide background or put a personal touch on their stories. “We need help,” Willie Vogt says. “We need you to connect us with sources still, just like the old days. I’d rather interface with someone in a PR firm that can get me to the four people I need to talk to than make five phone calls to get to one person. That role isn’t going to change.” Hear what Gregg Hillyer has to say about relationship-building. WATCH NOW
  36. 36. 35 Building relationships with media and personalizing content to the audience takes on even more importance as digital channels become more abundant and the competition for consumers’ attention is fierce. Is a relationship with journalists enough? Listen to Jeff Caldwell explain the importance of targeting the message. Amanda Radke offers the tips that a producer carries more weight than a product when it comes to coverage. WATCH NOW WATCH NOW
  37. 37. 36 Knowing the way things work at a publication or a broadcast network will make a big difference in getting through to the right people at the right time. In addition to knowing the editor and audience, Randy Wanke says to customize the communication in a way that is easily understood. Listen to Willie Vogt explain how important it is to direct information to the right editors. Keep it simple. Don’t get too jargony or wordy. Put it into plain, simple English. Keep in mind who your audience is. Randy Wanke “ “ WATCH NOW
  38. 38. 37 Lynn Ketelsen, the farm director for the Linder Farm Network, suggests a few simple, but important questions to ask yourself when trying to reach media. Who do you want to reach? How do you want to reach them? And what do you want to tell them? And I would also say, use a mix of media. Don’t forget the traditional media in that, because there’s still a role for newspapers and magazines and for radio — a very important role. As a matter of fact, in some cases, it can be even better than using digital media. Lynn Ketelsen “ “ How do you know the audience? Jeff Caldwell tells us the secret is engaging and being authentic. WATCH NOW
  39. 39. 38 Agrimarketers have resources that ag media doesn’t have access to but would love to have. “I need B-roll video when I’m doing a video story,” Willie Vogt says. “I need photos. I’m paying stock companies right now because every web story has to run with a photo. Google drives all your web traffic. Google gives more weight to a story that has a photo in it. Google gives more weight to stories that have links in it. So I have to buy photos because we don’t always have photos that match every story that runs but we have to run a stock photo in every story that runs. That’s why you’re seeing stock photos in every story that runs.” What else do journalists want from sources? Learn from Justin Davey about easy access and multiple formats. WATCH NOW
  40. 40. 39 If you’re looking for ways to integrate your message into current stories and trends, Willie Vogt says head to social media and the Web. Follow us on Twitter, follow us on Facebook. Check our websites out; see what we’re writing about. And then see if it’s a match to what your client is trying to say, or if there’s a thing that’s a potential new idea. We’re always open to new ideas. “ “ TAKEAWAYS: • Building relationships with key media is foundational to publication success. • Know the audience and communicate clearly, simply and concisely. • Look for ways to engage with media and potential customers through social media to personalize a product. Willie Vogt
  41. 41. 40 LOOKING FORWARD Digital media will continue to reinvent itself as mobile technology becomes more sophisticated. Rich media experiences are on the horizon as content is generated to be social, sharable, inclusive, interactive and individual. Our observations in this thought paper are just the beginning of Paulsen’s ongoing discussion and discovery of how ag media will evolve to keep up with industry challenges and opportunities. As digital and mobile advances continue, Paulsen public relations will stay on top of these changes with ongoing observations to provide a comprehensive picture of how to have a competitive edge in delivering content effectively through the latest in digital and mobile media.
  42. 42. the ag and rural lifestyle specialists • 605.336.1745 3510 S. First Ave. Circle • Sioux Falls, SD 57105 Follow us: We welcome you to continue referencing this study at