April 16, 2010

AgChat, which started as a moderated Twitter chat (@agchat), has now developed into a multimedia resource for farmers — the AgChat Foundation, www.agchat.org. Its founder Michelle Payn-Knoper (@mpaynknoper) and other strong advocates for agriculture — agvocates — are leading the way, using social media to tell ag’s story. Does it matter? Yes. Should you care? Yes, regardless of whether you’ll ever set foot on a farm.

Why you should care: Our modern agriculture system means we have food and plenty of it. The 2008  Time Use Survey shows we spend only about 30 minutes a day on food preparation and clean-up. Yet, our fridges and bellies are full. And, there’s no apologies to be made for it. Modern agriculture is based on science backed by the nation’s leading researchers in the Extension System. Does that mean farmers get a free ride when they pollute or treat animal poorly? Of course not. However, today, agriculture is facing a fight like no other. It’s critical that farmers tell and show what their livelihoods — and legacies — are all about.

I’m trying to do my part, but I failed recently. I was on a call with other ag writers, when one person said that farmers have been complaining for years. Maybe that’s true. However, today’s battle with HSUS and the like is on a whole different scale. But, for one reason or another I did not delve in to make that point. I will next time, though, taking cues from those in the AgChat Foundation. It really is that important.

Logo lessons

March 29, 2010

Bill Gardner, a Wichita-Kan.-based national logo trends expert, gave a captivating presentation at our recent Public Relations Society of America – Kansas  lunch program. The topic: the top 15 design trends for 2010. Gardner has tracked trends for several years through research and the online database he created, www.logolounge.com. The site now boasts more than 133,000 logos, all searchable by keyword, designer, timeframe, country or more.  His 2009 report can be found here, with the 2010 posting soon: http://www.logolounge.com/logotrends/.

The logos he presented were fascinating, even beautiful. However, Gardner’s take on what logos can — and should — do for a company also fascinated.

“Design makes a difference in purchasing when products are homogenized,” says Gardner. He asked such questions as ‘What does your logo sound like?’ and discussed logos that confront, or make you interact. He also talked about how some companies use words (taglines) as part of the logo, to make the most of that impression with the customer.

Gardner’s presentation reinforced the message that knowing who you are as a company — and reflecting that in all you do — is a powerful tool for success. You can check out more of his thoughts on trends in the sixth of his LogoLounge book series, due out soon.  Follow him, too, on Twitter: @logolounge.


(Guest blog post on www.lifemeetswork.com)

LifeMeetsWorkA funny thing happened on the way to my home office. Actually, it’s not all that funny. I’ve lost my knack for time management. Here’s why.

Read more here:  http://www.lifemeetswork.com/blog/blogdetail.asp?sectionID=3&articleID=150

Job title dilemma

August 4, 2009

top-logo[1](Guest blog post on www.lifemeetswork.com.)

I have lived the “life meets work” philosophy for almost 20 years now. It’s not because I discovered the trend early. I simply married into a farm family. Even in today’s world, farm families have an uncanny approach to integrating work and life. Case in point: New tractors still come with a “companion seat” option, for kids to ride along.

Lately, though, I struggle for an answer when a professional acquaintance asks me what I do. Read more here: http://www.lifemeetswork.com/blog/blogdetail.asp?sectionID=3&articleID=128.

Iva Lou

July 6, 2009

Souders Historical Farm-MuseumIva Lou would be the first to admit that words like “public relations,” “strategic planning,” “messaging,” and “goal-setting” are not part of her every-day vocabulary. Yet, she’s a master at them, in her own unique way.

I’ve learned much from Iva Lou these past few months. She asked for my help to develop a brochure for Souders Historical Farm-Museum, a 10-acre tract near Cheney, Kan., that recreates rural and small-town life in the late 1800s to mid-1950s. The museum was created by her brother, Floyd, and his wife, Norma — an amazing couple who dedicated their lives to preserving history.

When Floyd and Norma died, Iva Lou was left in charge of the estate and the museum. This is quite an undertaking for an 83-year-old woman, who would much rather spend her time playing the piano, gardening or doing crafts.

I was thrilled to help, as our family has toured the museum over the years and even has family photos and artifacts on display. I went into our first meeting full of ideas re: a web site, volunteer outreach efforts, special visitor days, etc. Iva Lou politely, but decisively, told me her goal was simple — develop a brochure so visitors could tour on their own, saving her the ongoing hassle of finding volunteer tour guides. She wasn’t interested in “raising awareness” — as we PR-types say. She was just fine with the family reunions they have scheduled year after year, as well as the handful of regular visits from school and church groups. Anything more would require staff and budget she just didn’t have. I admit that it was hard to hold back. The museum has so much potential. That potential may have to wait for another time.

We will have the brochure wrapped up in time for the many visitors during Cheney’s 125th anniversary celebration this August. I am proud to have helped Iva Lou make museum visits more meaningful for her guests.

Along the way, I have enjoyed our many chats on history, women’s rights,  mothering, yoga, Oprah, religion, country life and so much more.  I hope I find another reason to visit Iva Lou at her Ivy Laurel acres farm.

Followers and leaders

June 5, 2009

“You have to be a good follower to be a good leader.”
“Rarely do we have total situational awareness.”
“The uniform represents organizational trust that those who wear it have been thoroughly trained and have integrity.”

Those were some of the insights shared by 2nd Lt. Nick Mercurio and Sharon Hamric, McConnell Air Force Base communicators, at our recent PRSA Kansas lunch. Mercurio is chief of public affairs and Hamric is chief of community relations.

I was impressed — inspired, even — by their commitment to honestly and ethically communicate the McConnell story and raise awareness of the base and its service members. Mercurio’s comments regarding decision-makers, and the lack thereof in the corporate world, was particularly striking.

His personal example: He graduated last year with a bachelor’s in English from the Air Force Academy. He was immediately assigned to be chief of public affairs for the base, with not one day’s worth of real-world experience. Not a problem, he says, thanks to four years worth of leadership training and character development at the academy. The training prepared him to gather the necessary intelligence and then make the best decision based on that intelligence. Does he always make the right decision? No. But, he does always strive to make the best decision, based on the information available. He gives no apologies for making a decision.

A simple, but not an easy, methodology that I hope to emulate.

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