New Editorial Content Director Of Successful Farming

Meredith Corporation announced that David Kurns has been named Editorial Content Director of the Successful Farming brand, effective August 1. He will replace Loren Kruse, who is retiring after 36 years with Meredith.

Kurns, 51, is a leading digital content expert. He was part of the founding team that launched www.agriculture.com. He later served as the first Editor-in-Chief of Meredith Interactive Media, which included oversight of the Better Homes and Gardens and Parents branded websites.

Kurns next took his editorial content expertise to the company’s business-to-business marketing services agency, Meredith Xcelerated Marketing. He was responsible for creating and directing custom marketing initiatives for major clients, including Kraft Foods, The Principal Financial Group, Chrysler, MetLife and Publix.

Kurns began his career as a newspaper journalist with stops at the Ames Tribune and the Quad-City Times. A 1982 graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications, Kurns currently serves as Chair of the ISU Greenlee School of Journalism Advisory Council. He is a past recipient of the James W. Schwartz Award for Distinguished Service to Journalism and Communication, the Greenlee School’s highest honor.

A native of Joliet, Ill., Kurns and his wife, Sharon, live in Johnston, Iowa. They have two children, Daniel (24) and Anna (21).

Agriculture.com® wins two MobileWebAwards

Less than one year after the re-launch of m.Agriculture.com, the site has been awarded two MobileWebAwards from the Web Marketing Association for Best Magazine Mobile Website and Best Magazine Mobile Application.

The two awards come shortly after the announcement of the industry-first Mobile Commerce Messaging suite of offerings. The new services include a unique [A] Deals feature that provides farmers with direct marketing promotions and discounted offers from advertisers.

After m.Agriculture.com was launched in 2010, its developers soon began testing new services most appropriate for mobile use. These services included dynamic, multimedia content like video, slideshows, and an “app tray.”

The mobile site helps farmers keep up with the latest markets, weather, news, technology, and now input buying opportunities.

Loren Kruse Retiring From Successful Farming

I just learned that Loren Kruse, Successful Farming Editor in Chief, is retiring. Here’s Loren seated on right with Scott Mortimer and Curt Blades during a visit I made to Meredith headquarters in the fall of 2010. That was when the company had just announced a major rebuild of Agriculture.com. You can still listen to our interview about that here: Interview with Scott Mortimer and Loren Kruse

So who will be the next Successful Farming Editor in Chief?

Meredith Corporation (NYSE:MDP; www.meredith.com) announced today that Loren Kruse, Editor–in-Chief of Successful Farming, will retire on September 13.

During Kruse’s tenure, he consistently enhanced Successful Farming’s relevance through the roaring agricultural economy of the 1970’s; the farm crisis of the 1980’s; and today’s current agricultural boom economy. He was instrumental in the launch of Meredith Corporation’s first website, agriculture.com, in 1995, and supervised the creation of Successful Farming’s first TV programs, “Living the Country Life” and “The Machinery Show.”

“I have enjoyed a fantastic career at Meredith and have been proud to work for the publication that founded this great company. Each day, I strived to build upon what E.T. Meredith created in 1902,” said Kruse. “The agriculture industry is a dynamic, important industry, and I’ve been dedicated to bringing the very best to our audience over the past 30 years.”
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Successful Smartphones

My digital edition of the new Successful Farming magazine just arrived today. I have not read it as of this post but the cover caught my eye. A story headline tease like “Smartphones put all the ag information you need in the palm of your hand” gets my attention, especially when the graphics above contain another phrase, “Hot new tool for your farm,” within iPhone icons!

I just scanned the story and it contains some good information including how farmers are using their smartphones with specific examples, recommended apps and more. Of course I would like to see the AgWired App in those recommendations but . . .

I use the Zinio app on my iPad to read digital magazines btw.

Blades Promoted at Successful Farming

File this under “Former intern does even better.”

Curt BladesSuccessful Farming magazine has promoted Curt Blades to national sales manager. In his new role, he will oversee and lead all advertising sales initiatives and research activities for the Successful Farming brands, including Agriculture.com and the Successful Farming Machinery Show. He was previously the sales and marketing manager with Successful Farming.

“Curt has a proven track record of providing exceptional customer service and helping bring creative solutions to our marketing partners,” said Scott Mortimer, publisher of Successful Farming. “I am very pleased to announce his promotion and look forward to him leading all advertising efforts at Successful Farming.” Blades will also continue to oversee the research efforts of Successful Farming, and the new database venture SFMiD.

“We will continue to be the most customer-oriented advertising sales and marketing team in agriculture,” said Blades. “I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to serve our customers and internal team in this new position.”

As Chuck mentioned in a previous post, Curt started off his career in the agribusiness world as an intern with us at Brownfield Network – many, many moons ago. But, while we keep getting older, he still looks like that fresh-faced college kid to me!

March 15 is National Ag Day

National Agriculture DayThis year marks the 38th anniversary of National Ag Day on March 15, an event which will be celebrated in classrooms and communities across the country as well as in the nation’s Capitol.

The Agriculture Council of America (ACA) has three major Washington DC events planned this year – Coffee with the Secretary, the Mix-and-Mingle Luncheon, and the National Celebration of Agriculture Dinner. John Deere will once again partner with ACA, as well as Successful Farming and DTN-The Progressive Farmer, to sponsor the DC events.

The events honor National Agriculture Week and mark a nationwide effort to tell the true story of American agriculture and remind citizens that agriculture is a part of all of us. A number of producers, agricultural associations, corporations, students and government organizations involved in agriculture are expected to participate.

In addition to public service announcements and other educational programs, ACA and partners will sponsor students to attend the Washington D.C. events. Representatives from FFA, 4H, AFA, the Consortium, and Student NAMA will visit with legislators, participate in a mix-and-mingle luncheon, and attend special events throughout the day.

The winners of the National Ag Day Essay Contest will also attend the events. High school students around the country have submitted written or video essays about the importance of agriculture with the theme “American Agriculture: Your Food. Your Farmer.” One winner in each category – written and video – will receive $1,000 and round-trip airfare to Washington, D.C., for recognition during the Celebration of Ag Dinner. The Ag Day Essay Contest is sponsored by CHS Inc., the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal, National Association of Farm Broadcasting (NAFB), National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA), Country Living Association and McCormick Company.

Consumer Food Habits Study Presented at AG CONNECT Expo

AG CONNECT ExpoWhat do consumers think about food? Betsy Freese, Living The Country Life, told AG CONNECT Expo attendees about the results of recent survey results from the Better Homes & Gardens magazine editors. They mainly focused on women readers and their food habits in the last two year.

Betsy says that between 2008 to 2010 they found that the economy had an impact but that they’re still interested in organic and locally grown food although their use of those foods hadn’t really increased during this time. The economy is probably the reason as they are making fewer trips to the grocery store. They also looked at what types of meat they were consuming and found that beef and pork were stable while chicken had declined very slightly. Fresh fruit and vegetable use went down also probably due to the economy. There was a whole part of the study on food safety. In the past two years food safety confidence was steady although it had declined in the time period before this survey. She says the local food movement seems to have hit a plateau in the last couple years. She says that there is a lot that farmers can take away from the study. She thinks it is very important that farmers don’t try so hard to segment what kind of farmer they are, as in organic vs. non-organic and try to work together more.

You can listen to my interview with Betsy here: Interview With Betsy Freese

2011 AG CONNECT Expo Photo Album

Farm Market iD Partners with Successful Farming

ZimmCast 272Successful Farming® and Farm Market iD have joined forces to create “SFMiD,” what they are calling “the most comprehensive agricultural and rural lifestyle database in the industry.” SFMid will offer a wide variety of options for multi‐sourced farm and rural lifestyle data, as well as customized solutions to help agrimarketers better understand owner/operator relationships, establish electronic communication data points, and know the farmer as an individual person.

That got our attention, so we called John Montandon, President of Farm Market iD, to find out more about what this new partnership has to offer. In this ZimmCast, John talks about how they are using the latest technology – both in communications and agriculture – to offer agrimarketers the most comprehensive information about their customers.

Find out more here: ZimmCast 273

Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsors, Novus International, and Leica Geosytems for their support.

The ZimmCast is the official weekly podcast of AgWired. Subscribe so you can listen when and where you want. Just go to our a Subscribe page

Successful Farming Gets WOW Award

Successful Farming gets a WOW from Media Industry News.

Successful FarmingSuccessful Farming® magazine was announced the Media Industry News (min) b2b Wow Award-winner at the Integrated Marketing Awards ceremony in New York City amongst more than 300 top-level media executives. The Wow Award is presented to the most innovative integrated marketing campaign or idea.

“We hear a lot today about social media and social networking – users interacting with other users,” said Scott Mortimer, Publisher of Successful Farming. “In ‘All Around the Farm’, farmers have been sharing ideas for over 80 years. You might say it’s the great-grandfather of social media. It has continuously been a resource for our readers and is recognized as a favorite editorial feature in every issue.”

“All Around the Farm” began in 1929 as a forum in which farmers and ranchers could share problems and brainstorm solutions. While it first ran exclusively in the print version, the program has since expanded throughout the years into all of the brand’s formats. Besides being a regular feature in the monthly magazine, it has a presence on Agriculture.com, on the “Machinery Show” on RFD TV and is a popular book.

Advertising Options On Agriculture.com

Curt BladesFormer intern does good. That’s how I describe Curt Blades. Yes, Curt was an intern for me once upon a time. He was also my guide for my day at Successful Farming headquarters and this behind the scenes look at the new Agriculture.com. We toured the building so I could see the studios and the prop shops for the various publications and programs produced here by Meredith Corporation.

To wrap up my web remote from Agriculture.com Curt and I talked about what the newly designed website means to advertisers. All of us in the media know how important they are to our success and Successful Farming has some very interesting opportunities for advertisers now and in the future. Curt says they’ve not only included more traditional advertising options like leader boards but also some creative ideas that don’t make an advertiser rely on click through’s only. There are new units available so the messages can stand alone. Additionally, advertisers have an opportunity to own a section. There are also opportunities for sponsored news. Listen to my interview with Curt to hear how your company can take advantage of the new Agriculture.com. Curt Blades Interview

Agriculture.com Public Launch Photo Album

A More Mobile Agriculture.com

Justin DaveyThe newest member to the Agriculture.com team is Justin Davey. Justin is a multimedia producer and focused on the new mobile version of the website.

Jason says that in addition to current markets, weather, and news, the new mobile site will include some new features like:

* Ag Poll: Join in polls that will give you a snapshot of what’s happening with other farmers today.
* Photo Sharing: Share your photos from the field and help show the world what’s happening out on the land.
* Ag Reminder: Receive timely reminders of topics that will help you manage your farm business on a daily basis.

Justin Davey Interview

Agriculture.com Public Launch Photo Album

Market Man On Agriculture.com

Mike McGinnisWhen it comes to markets Mike McGinnis is in a unique position, literally. He’s the only farm magazine/website reporter with a desk on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. This allows him to provide up to the minute information from traders and a video wrapup of the markets a couple of times each week on the new Agriculture.com. You’ll find him on the website where he’s known as Marketeye. Mike McGinnis Interview

Agriculture.com Public Launch Photo Album

Multimedia Master For Agriculture.com

Jason MeekerWhen it comes to multimedia content on the new Agriculture.com you will find lots of it. Talk about media convergence! Successful Farming magazine not only has an online home but in the latest issue of the printed publication you’ll find video content! Yes, it’s true and I got away without taking a photo of it to share. I’m pretty sure I can get one though. Okay, let’s get back to the website. Jason Meeker is the manager of multimedia content. He says they’re now able to feature video on all of the various sections and pages. In fact, visitors will be able to add their own videos very soon. Right now they can upload their own photos and share them.

Jason says the new Agriculture.com is all about sharing content within and without of the community. He says they’re continuing to produce regular feature content like Machinery Pete. I had to look in envy at Jason’s Mac Pro which he uses to edit a lot of their video content. Jason’s also very involved in the Successful Farming Machinery Show on RFD-TV. Jason Meeker Interview

Agriculture.com Public Launch Photo Album

The Agriculture.com Community

Jeff CaldwellContinuing my behind the scenes look at the new Agriculture.com let’s meet Jeff Caldwell, Jeff helps manage the “community” that makes up the online home of Successful Farming magazine. One of the interesting things he’s found about the members of the community are how they get involved. As you might imagine if you think about it as a group of people sharing common interests and ideas, some are very active and some aren’t. According to Jeff the very active members make up about one percent of the total with almost twenty percent willing to do posts and comments. That leaves almost eighty percent who “lurk” which means they’re reading, watching and listening. I think this is very common to most online communities and why I don’t recommend measuring success of your online efforts just on how many people may comment on a blog for example. Unless you realize that the percentage of people doing so is very small.

Within the new Agriculture.com there continues to be a number of topical forums like the award winning Farmers for the Future targeted to young farmers. Jeff is the “hall monitor” for these forums which is very important. Successful Farming doesn’t just set up a forum for discussion and then walk away. Jeff monitors the conversation, contributes and even encourages participants.

Another way Jeff utilizes the information posted by community participants is for his own editorial purposes. By seeing what they are talking about he learns what’s important to them and that is a big help in determining the type of editorial content he should be focusing on with his own writing. All in all, I think you’ll find that Jeff and his team are very in tune with their audience by being part of the online family. Jeff Caldwell Interview

Agriculture.com Public Launch Photo Album

Agriculture.com Looks Good on iPad

Successful Farming iPadsIf you don’t have an iPad then just ask your Successful Farming and Agriculture.com representative to show you theirs. Here’s the team with their tablets all showing the new Agriculture.com.

I’m going to continue my coverage of the public launch of Agriculture.com tomorrow with several more behind the scenes interviews talking about the community, multi-media tools, markets and the mobile version. It’s time to head back to ZimmComm World Headquarters for this agriblogger. See you from there tomorrow.

Agriculture.com Public Launch Photo Album

The Agriculture.com Philosopher

John Walter is the Executive Editor of Agriculture.com but in reality he’s the philosopher for the home of Successful Farming online.

John is showing off his new iPad which he used to show me some of the new features on the website. John says there are three legs to the the website, the farmer, the publisher and the agrimarketer and they all interact on an equal basis. He calls it the Co-Active Network as shown by the graphic.

Anyone can create a “persona” on the site that then allows them to use the interactive tools for the purposes of activities like commenting or selling something via a classified ad. Farmers can even comment on the markets. I’m betting there will be some very interesting thoughts shared there! John Walter Interview

Agriculture.com Public Launch Photo Album

Background On New Agriculture.com

The first office I visited here at Meredith Corporation headquarters was that of Scott Mortimer (left). Visiting with us were my guide for the day, Curt Blades and Successful Farming Editor In Chief, Loren Kruse (right).

We had a conversation about why they rebuilt Agriculture.com, the online home of Successful Farming magazine. Scott says it had been about 6 years since a major change of this magnitude had been conducted and the current effort actually started 2 years ago. I agreed with Loren that content is still king and even though the new website is employing some interesting new technology, farmers and ranchers will still find the same level of agricultural news and information they’ve always expected from Successful Farming. Interview with Scott Mortimer and Loren Kruse

I’ve been shooting photos here at the Successful Farming headquarters and will be adding to them during the day: Agriculture.com Public Launch Photo Album

How Do You Like Agriculture.com

Yes, one website can promote another! Today AgWired is promoting Agriculture.com.

Of course a little screen shot is nice but you need to visit Agriculture.com and start clicking away to get the full effect. I’ll be doing it myself while talking with members of the design team today to learn what they’ve put together and why.

Please feel free to post your comments. What do you think? New and improved? Like it?