ACDC News – Issue 10-12

“Suddenly, we dig farming” is the title of a lively commentary we added recently to the ACDC collection. Writing in the Los Angeles Times , Meghan Daum surveyed current public passions such as:

  • organic farmers as rock stars and heroes
  • favorite farmer contests
  • Internet social games such as Farmville, causing lost sleep over virtual crop rotation
  • “Farmer wants a wife” reality dating show

Read it here .

PR not enough in a food recall. Most companies in the food supply chain have a Plan A for recalls, according to an executive cited in an article we entered recently from Food Logistics . That is, they assume they will never have a recall. Some companies have plans to “focus on preventive measures and on public relations approaches for brands under siege.” Few get around to what recall planning actually requires:

  • Creating a detailed, written recall protocol plan
  • Staging regular mock recalls to give everyone involved in a recall a chance to practice their rules

This article by Carol Casper reviews information technology systems that permit a company – presented with a single piece of data such as a purchase order – to identify the location or disposition of every affected product within minutes if not seconds. That’s a vital key to protecting consumers, and their trust, when recalls occur.

You can read the article here .

Mobile phones give voice to those the media seldom cover . A recent survey in India revealed that an estimated 2 percent of space in mainstream media involved rural people and activities. Access to Internet and private television is low there, as well. However, mobile penetration is high, and growing. So mobile telephones are helping rural residents talk to each other, and the outside world, about matters important to them, according to a BBC report we added recently to the ACDC collection. The report describes a platform by CGnet Swara that works like this:

  • A “reporter” or “citizen journalist” listens to a local conversation about a topic of interest (e.g., issues in construction of a dam-like structure on a nearby river)
  • The reporter calls a Bangalore number to upload a report of that discussion
  • A text message goes out to all phone numbers on a contact list
  • Anyone who wants to hear the news report calls in to the same number and listens to it, individually or in a group (by amplified phone setting).

You can read the report here .

“Industry lobbying keeps public in the dark about broadband,” reads the headline of a March report from the Investigative Reporting Workshop of American University. The report by John Dunbar says that since 1999 the largest broadband and wireless providers and their trade associations have spent $873 million lobbying. Part of that effort focuses on conflicting views about providing “public data that could help the nation determine the width and depth of the so-called digital divide.” Concerns involve deployment of broadband services to rural America and low-income areas.

Read the report here .

On creative media: Smell of barbecued steak – from a billboard . Bloom food stores, located in several states of the southeastern U.S., are using scented air technologies to “jump out and really grab the consumers’ attention.” A billboard along the highway features a juicy steak while a big fan blows pepper and charcoal smells toward the road to add a hickory barbecue smell to what the passersby see.

You can read several news reports about this food advertising experiment, including some reactions from consumers.

Steak-scented billboard

Billboard sells with smells

Billboard emits smell of cooking steak

Encouraging employment outlook. Encouraging word for agricultural communicators comes from a new U. S. Department of Agriculture report on employment opportunities between 2010-2015. More than 6,200 annual job openings are expected in communications, education and governmental operations involved with agricultural and food systems, renewable resources and the environment. Among the priority occupations cited:

  • Science communicators
  • Food safety information specialists
  • Ecotourism specialists
  • Distance education specialists
  • Computer graphics technicians

“Graduates who are highly skilled in using electronic media and have experiences in multimedia operations will be most competitive.”

Opportunities for public relations specialists in these areas of agriculture are expected to increase 24 percent during the coming five years while opportunities for technical writers are expected to increase 18 percent.

You can read the report here .

Hosting a Nuffield Scholar . We in ACDC were pleased to host 2010 Nuffield Scholar Caroline Stocks of the Farmers Weekly ( UK) during part of last week. The international Nuffield Scholar Program recognizes excellence and develops leadership in agriculture. Caroline is deputy news editor of Farmers Weekly . She is using her scholarship experience to learn how media and organizations around the world communicate with their farmers. Her current travels involve research in Canada and the U.S. Later, she plans to gather information in Australia, India and the Netherlands. This week, she scouted the ACDC collection for research and other information of interest. She also met with some agricultural journalists and producers in east-central Illinois.

Visitors welcomed. We are always pleased to host professionals, students, faculty members and others interested in agricultural journalism and communications. Let us know if ACDC can be a “home base” and “research center” when you or your associates are looking for new skills, case examples, perspectives and background resources about effective agricultural journalism and communications.

Communicator activities approaching

July 24-28, 2010
“Rolling on the River, AMS Style.” Ag Media Summit in St. Paul, Minnesota USA.

August 26-29, 2010
Annual Conference of the National Market News Association in Portland, Oregon USA.

September 1-3, 2010
Annual Conference of the Association of Food Journalists in Santa Fe, New Mexico USA.

Best regards and good searching. Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas for the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents we might add to this unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Com Documentation Center, 510 LIAC, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to .

Get in touch with us when you see interesting items in the ACDC collection and can’t gain full-text access through information in the citation, or through online searching. We will help you gain access.