ACDC News – Issue 14-09

Issue 14-09

Just a handful of food brands have high digital IQs

“The $321 billion US packaged food market’s appetite for digital is growing, yet just a handful of brands are truly differentiating themselves when it comes to their digital presence.”

That was the take-away from a new study by digital business intelligence firm L2 ThinkTank. It ranked 80 U.S. packaged food and beverage brands by their:

  • use of website and e-commerce (effectiveness of site and e-commerce investments)
  • digital marketing (search, display, and email marketing)
  • social media (brand presence, community size, and engagement)
  • mobile (compatibility and marketing on different devices)

You can see the top-IQ brands, bottom-IQ brands, and other findings of the study in a 2014 news item from at:

“Local” and “organic” – a jumble of meaning to consumers

Recent research among consumers in Canada and the U.S. helped identify perceptions about the terms “local” and “organic.” An online survey of 2,511 consumers revealed communications challenges and opportunities such as:

  • 23% of the total sample incorrectly perceived “local” as having been produced organically (locally).
  • 17% perceived “local” as involving no use of synthetic pesticides.
  • 20% perceived “local” as involving less pesticide residue on product.
  • 21% perceived “local” as involving natural fertilizer used.
  • 17% incorrectly associated “organic” with being produced locally.
  • Some perceptions of Canadian and U.S. consumers differed substantially, especially with regard to “local.”

“Sadly, ‘local’ and ‘organic’ have had the misfortune of entering our vocabulary as separate concepts and then getting jumbled into one, unclear concept.” Researchers suggested adding education throughout the marketing process to help plant producers clarify and correct terminology for all consumers.

You can read the research report at:

A new look at farming decisions in Australia

Thanks to Neil Inall for alerting us to a new and comprehensive report of survey research in Australia about how farm managers make decisions that involve land management practices. Published in June 2014, it was commissioned by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences.

Findings explore the motivations of broadacre, dairy, and horticulture managers as they consider changes in land management practices.

  • Financial benefits topped the list over environmental benefits and personal motivations.
  • However, the study showed the importance of all three motivations suggested promoting all three.
  • It also revealed findings such as barriers to adoption of sustainable land management practices, sources of information, importance of local groups and networks, and differences in the influence of various service providers (such as consultants, state government, production groups).

You can read this report at: Drivers of practice change in land management in Australian agriculture. Synthesis report-Stages I, II and III – PDF [2.6 MB]

Focus on new models and structures for news organizations

We recently added to the ACDC collection a 2012 report from Free Press (Florence, Massachusetts) highlighting discussion these days about ways in which news organizations can “focus on their public mission instead of just their stock prices.”

  • Nonprofit ownership (501(c)3 model) through philanthropies and other resources emphasizes news media as public trusts that provide crucial public services necessary for a democratic society.
  • L3Cs: a low-profit limited liability corporation. “A time-tested, for-profit business that is organized and operated primarily to serve a charitable purpose, with profit a secondary concern.”
  • Worker-owned media and cooperatives “may offer a way to provide quality journalism to diverse local communities.”

Please remind us of – or alert us to – agricultural/rural media models that involve these structures or others. Send your information to us at . Thank you.

You can read this report at:

The arts – missing link in rural revitalization

A comprehensive review of literature led Julia Anwar McHenry to observe that reconnection with the arts and creativity may be the missing ingredient to the survival in rural and regional Australia. Her article in the journal Rural Society identified functions of art, such as:

  • Tourism, income generation and employment opportunities
  • Enhancing participation and creativity in public decision making
  • Strengthening community capacity
  • Strengthening identity and sense of place

You can read the abstract of this article, “A place for the arts in rural revitalization,” at:

Please check with us at for help in gaining full-text access.

A related source, “Arts and Humanities in Rural America,” from the U. S. Department of Agriculture is available online at:

“Interest in agri social media continues to grow”

That is the title of a June news report by Peter Hill on the website of the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists. It features a guild member and rural consultant who is helping farmers define their needs and objectives, and educating them in “using these free platforms for infinite rewards.”

“Whether it’s a northern arable farmer wanting to swap notes with his counterpart in the south, a farm shop wanting new customers or a group of farmers who collectively seek industry advice, social media has a role to play.” A cited example involves a #forageaid campaign on Twitter which, since 2013, has connected those who are in need of animal feed and bedding due to extreme weather with those who have a surplus.

You can read the news report, with links to social media resources, at:

Communicator activities approaching

September 3-7, 2014“Risk and resilience.” Annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in New Orleans, Louisiana USA.Information:

September 4-8, 2014“Innovations from a small island.” Annual IFAJ Congress of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in Aberdeenshire Angus, Banffshire and Moray, Scotland.Information:

September 16-17, 2014“Growing to greater heights.” Fall conference of the National Agri-Marketing Association in Chicago, Illinois USA.Information:

October 2-5, 2014“Dig deep.” Annual conference of the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation on Prince Edward Island, Canada.Information:

November 12-14, 2014“From our roots our future grows,” celebrating 70 years of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB). Conference in Kansas City, Missouri USA.Information:

Those flashing lights in summer nights

We close this issue of ACDC News with a perspective about “rear-view communications” by what are commonly known as fireflies or lightning bugs. We marvel at those small winged beetles in temperate and tropical regions, flashing their lights as they fly after dark in gardens, fields, woods, and yards. The poem comes from a 1905 issue of Entomology News .

The lightning bug seems brilliant,
But he has not any mind;
For he stumbles through existence
With his headlight on behind.

Best wishes and good searching

Please pass along your reactions, suggestions and ideas. Feel free to invite our help as you search for information. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @ACDCUIUC . And please suggest (or send) agricultural communications documents we might add to this unique collection. We welcome them in hard copy (sent to Ag Comm Documentation Center, Room 510, 1101 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, IL 61801) or in electronic format sent to