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Professional topics that agricultural journalists and communicators addressed around the world during 2010

Dozens of issues, trends, ideas and skills featured in conferences and events.

By Jim Evans.

What’s on professional conference agendas these days?

“I would be interested in learning about professional improvement topics that agricultural journalists and communicators are addressing in their meetings and conferences.”

That suggestion by an IFAJ associate stirred my own thinking.  Why not take an international look at the conference and meeting programs of these professionals?

What follows is an overview of professional improvement topics I have identified through a review of websites and other online sources in countries around the world.  The list is by no means complete. Language barriers limited the scope of the review, for example.

Even so, what follows is a listing of titles for 86 professional improvement sessions carried out during 2010 by 21 agricultural journalist and communicator guilds and groups in 11 countries.  These state, national and international organizations are based in Europe, South Asia, Africa, North America and the Western Pacific Region.

You will find the topics arranged within general categories that may help you identify patterns of focus and emphasis. Some topics overlap the categories, of course.

Here they are, by category —
86 possible programming ideas for your organization            

May you find interest in them – and may they spark some new programming ideas you can use in your organization.

Audience relations

Consumer interest in food production
What “frontline” consumers want to know most about how foods are produced
Building your brand: creating lasting emotional bonds with your consumers
Supper with a farmer
Building advocacy among farmers and ranchers

Communications planning

Crisis management in the new social media age
What are brand managers thinking?  Bridging the communication gap
Challenges facing audience development
Developing and strengthening your unique brand
A fresh look at telling rural-urban stories

Electronic media/Information technology

New media market basket
Social media for agricultural public relations
Cutting edge communications in the digital age
Using social media for marketing and sales
Big webisphere: how publishers, journalists and advertisers can make money and get messages out effectively
Navigating the dangerous waters of the Internet
Using LinkedIn to network
Is agribusiness really on the social media and networking train?
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube…Oh my
The changing ag media market
Social media at its best
Harnessing social networks and photo sharing websites
Engaging the public through social networks

Graphic design

Image processing basics
Establishing a graphic identity in multimedia
Logo concepting

Health and wellbeing of ag journalists

What’s keeping you awake at night?

Communications management

Social media 101: how to monetize
Getting broadcast in the budget
Annual address of a media leader
Managing an effective exhibit marketing program

Media selection

Creativity vs. practically: one sings on the printed page, the other draws readers to the Web
Media buying: how the games have changed


Small flash crash course
Why conventional wisdom is bad for good photography – and how you can overcome it
Writing and photography workshop
“Off auto” – photography workshop
How to photograph food


Copyright, trademark and your business presence
Copyright in the digital age
Contract wars
Big ethical question: relationship among agricultural editors, advertisers and audiences
Legal rules for social media marketers
Issues in online journalism
Monitoring rural press freedom
Journalism ethics among agricultural writers

Public relations

Public relations for agriculture during the decade ahead
The ongoing challenge from animal activist groups
Characteristics of a winning public relations program
How agriculture should respond to increasing public scrutiny


Reporting on disasters
Cutting through the “spin”
Art of investigative journalism
Agricultural journalism between passion and pressure
Media guidelines for agricultural safety stories
Focus on covering current issues (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions, rural policy)Agricultural reporting
Animal rights/humane treatment fights
Covering the White House as a blogger on food issues
The administration’s anti-obesity campaign
Know your farmer, know your food, know your agricultural journalist
Correspondent skills development (workshop for rural journalists) and refresher course
Journalistic use of Twitter
Digital tools for working journalists
Best practices for gathering online news
Tech savvy gadgets for farm broadcasters


Research you can use


Preparing journalists for specialized reporting in agriculture
Risk/crisis/disaster communication education
Training for journalists
Sharing successful marketing stories
Food and fuel breakfast
Popular songwriter
Quiz night
What I’ve wanted to know
Wikis for the workplace

Writing and editing

Writing from the heart
Making your writing shine
Storytelling in the moment
The long and short of editorial content
Sharing ideas forum
Local food messaging
Unconventional focus on climate, environment and food
Developing value of editorial content
Focusing to write
How to lose the boring and keep the reader

What other professional improvement topics
did agricultural journalists and communicators
address during 2010?

What professional improvement topics
should be addressed during 2011?

Send your information and suggestions to the author at evansj(at)
We will be pleased to share them. Thanks.

(This professional development feature is provided through a partnership of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists and the Agricultural Communications Documentation Center, University of Illinois.)

January 2011

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