Greetings to you as we begin a new year.
Those of us who work in the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center wish you the best and hope that we can help you locate information to strengthen your communications efforts during the year ahead.
We extend special thanks to Warren Clark of Clark Consulting International, Kathy Gill of eNet Digest and Ron McMullin of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. They helped the Documentation Center provide information to a recent inquirer who was looking for lists of agricultural software suppliers.
The public asks of organizations, with increasing intensity. We often hear this demand voiced in terms of “accountability,” “value-added” and “cost-effectiveness.” Throughout the public and private sectors, organizations are scrambling to demonstrate their value.
About the economic value of agricultural information? Agricultural communications research often deals with “upstream” matters such as documentation of communications problems and descriptions of techniques used for communicating. Sometimes the research helps assess readership levels or other indicators of exposure to messages. Occasionally, studies measure knowledge gain, attitude change, intentions or other kinds of behavioral change associated with communications. Seldom do they address the economic impacts of such efforts, the “downstream” aspects that are basic indicators of effectiveness and value.
If agricultural college communicators’ lack of attention to accountability hasn’t been at least in part the consequence of a parallel lack of attention (until recently) by administrative leaders. “I think that may reflect some complacency growing out of the many years of stable or growing budgets. But it is a new era, and new thinking is called for.”
Of “News and Announcements,” members of Cooperative Communications Association (CCA) are addressing this same matter. Through a research program, they plan to identify tools that cooperative communicators can use to measure how their efforts influence business success.
By e-note if you have thoughts about how communicators in agriculture can more effectively assess what they do, in terms of economic impact and value.
For communicating the benefits of cooperative organizations to members were identified in the lead article of the January issue of Cooperative Communicators Association News. The author, Doug DiMento of Agri-Mark, Inc., briefly describes practical ways in which to use existing information systems (such as voice mail and fax systems) more fully and to “seek the help of others to tell your story.” Let us know if you’d like to see the article, or check with CCA.
The Documentation Center recently added a doctoral dissertation that examines farm operators’ perceptions of risk from agricultural chemical usage. The citation: Mark A. Tucker, “The influence of social-learning factors on farm operators’ perceptions of agricultural-chemical risk in the Ohio Darby Creek Hydrologic Unit.” The Ohio State University, 1995. Mark Tucker(firstname.lastname@example.org) heads the teaching program in agricultural journalism at the University of Missouri.
Recently we noticed this little sign posted in the café of a west central Illinois town: “There’s not much to see in a small town, but what you hear makes up for it.” Have you seen any good signs lately? Let us know.
Best regards and good searching.