First Audio

Chuck Zimmerman

As soon as our new blog design is complete and new website/server up and running we’ll begin true podcasting. In the meantime I’ll be posting links here to audio files you can listen to, especially this week at the Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show.

Here’s the first one. ZimmBlog Podcast

You should be able to click on that link and your media player will open automatically, download the mp3 file and play it for you. Let me know if you have problems. If you don’t have a media player I recommend Windows Media Player.

Looking forward to blogging you from San Antonio!

Audio, Podcasts

Are Press Releases A PR Strategy?

Chuck Zimmerman

I think they can be a very important part of a communications plan or we wouldn’t have a business that focuses on the production and distribution of press releases. I like to refer to them as news releases since reporters are looking for news. They’re not looking for an opportunity to provide free publicity to some company or organization (usually).

Here’s an interesting post that I thought you might want to read and contemplate. I will admit to not having read the book, which is the subject of the post. But it does contain some excerpts and in particular I agree with one phrase about genuinely helping the reporter do their job. That’s why we strongly encourage sending audio to radio reporters. That helps them and makes your release more likely to be “used.” So here’s that post. I’d be interested in your thoughts, especially if you’ve read the whole book.

Saturday, January 29

Press Releases Are Not a PR Strategy

* A new book from PR expert Linda VandeVrede takes a fresh look at our misunderstood discipline. The title of her book: Press Releases Are Not a PR Strategy. Some selling points of her public relations analysis:

“If you think your company’s lack of success in gaining “ink” in your favored publications is due to a dearth of news releases or a lack of hard-hitting messages that resonate with your customers, you may want to think again.”

High on the book’s myth list is the venerable press release. “In our digital world of minute-by-minute news updates and rampant information overload, press releases can be the least effective way to get your message across to your target audience,” says VandeVrede.

Who is the target audience for PR? Not the purchaser or end user of your products and services, as most companies believe. Instead, VandeVrede’s book maintains that, the editors and analysts responsible for writing about your company and its products can be your biggest obstacles or your strongest allies in getting your message across — and genuinely helping them to do their jobs can pay big benefits.

“One of the best lessons in this book is that the editor is your boss,” says Lisa Vaas, associate editor, “Not the product, nor the company. The best thing that a PR rep can do for me is enable me to deliver something honest and timely to my readers.”

posted by PR Machine at 1/29/2005

Public Relations

Busy Week For Talking News Releases Coming Up

Chuck Zimmerman

Things are heating up here at the office. We’ve got projects going on this coming week for United Soybean Board, National Biodiesel, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Beef Industry Council and of course Southeast AgNet.

Plus I’ll be travelling to the 2005 Cattle Industry Convention on Wednesday and hopefully blogging my way through it, going and coming. Look for audio, pictures, thoughts, news and just about anything I come up with.

There’s a big trade show there and I plan to talk to as many communications people as I can to find out how enlightened they are about the blogging and Talking News Releases.

Check back often or better yet subscribe to our blog and be notified of new posts automatically.


Can A Blog Replace a Website?

Chuck Zimmerman

That’s basically the question I was asked yesterday during a presentation to the executive staff of a division of a major ag company. They appear to be very frustrated getting information on their traditional website in a timely manner since it has to go through the “technical” folks who are always very “busy.”

I told them that although the answer is yes, since a blog is a website, they might want to consider a marriage of the two styles. They could for example make their blog the home page and have links to pages of static information that’s necessary, like contacts, products, ordering. The blog itself could be their constantly updated place to put the information they’re frustrated about.

They have researchers and field staff who have projects, thoughts and opinions that they want customers to know about. By setting the blog up properly they could actually all post to it. I think 4 of the 6 people attending had Blackberry’s. I told them they could actually email their post to their website from their little pda/phone and that got them even more interested!

They might even consider a blog of blogs. Meaning a blog page that links to blogs on separate topics like those of each division.

They were worried about letting just anyone post comments because of the fear of negative comments. However, as their communications director pointed out, they want honest feedback and if someone posts a “stupid” negative comment others will see it for what it is.

I cautioned them against restricting people from commenting since it seems like they might then run the danger of being seen as only an updated “commercial.”

All of this started from a discussion of the traditional news release and taking them a step further by turning them into Talking News Releases. With the audio we produce they could then post full interviews on different subjects on their website or blog. That’s when they asked “What’s a blog?” And then we were really off to the races.

We even got into podcasting for those of you who are really enlightened. I’ll be writing more about this new form of audio distribution soon so stay tuned.

Public Relations

Reaching Consumers With TNR’s

Chuck Zimmerman

We like to talk about beef around ZimmComm. That’s because one of our regular clients is the Missouri Beef Industry Council. Of course you can see a picture of Steve, the Executive Director in a previous post.

Besides doing producer communications we also produce TNR’s (Talking News Releases) targeted to the general public promoting beef.

You can link to our latest release promoting the National Beef Check-off and see how we regionalize it for Missouri distribution. This can easily be done for any area of the country.

I think I’ll go have a hamburger now!


More Good Info On Blogging For Business – Perhaps Agribusiness?

Chuck Zimmerman

I was just forwarded a link to this article on More good information and links to resources. It may seem overwhelming at first glance if you’ve never been involved in blogging but it becomes easier as you realize how the technology allows you to communicate information in a fast, personal way.

I spoke with an overworked agricultural organization communications director this morning. When I asked him about creating a blog and featuring a link to it on their webpage his response was “I’m loathe to create a monster I can’t feed.”

I understand. That’s why you need ZimmComm. I said, “Just email me information you would want to post if you had time. I’ll do it for you.” In fact, everyone on his staff could just send us their ideas and we’ll do the posting for them. With 3 or 4 people sending little notes and ideas I’ve no doubt we could generate frequent content!

Of course, I would want to make sure the blog clearly states that ZimmComm’s providing a “posting” service and the individual posts would be attributed to the person who submitted it. Anything wrong with that?

What do you think?


Great Info On Blogging & PR

Chuck Zimmerman

There’s a growing amount of information available on blogging and the impact this is having on public relations. For example the first ever Blog Business Summit just concluded in Seattle. I almost went but business is good (busy) and I can read all about it through several blogs like Tom Peter’s.

Another resource of information is Global PR Week.

Here’s the heading on the site:

“Looking forward to 2.0

The first edition of the Global PR Blog Week 1.0 is now over. During one week, 35 practioners published more than 60 articles and interviews on the impact of personal publishing on Public Relations. Enjoy the reading – and stay tuned for version 2.0.”

You may want to browse on over and click around!

What does this have to do with agricultural communications? Everything! Farmers are like the general public in their internet habits and with USDA providing so much financing in the last couple years for the development of rural broadband access, you’re going to see some amazing things happen in the ag communications world. If you need some help figuring it all out please give me a call. I’d be happy to consult on your blogging project!

Public Relations

Helping Farmers Understand ARMS

Chuck Zimmerman

The Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service is using ZimmComm to send a series of 5 Talking News Releases to reporters around Missouri as part of their efforts to inform producers about the current ARMS (Agricultural Resource Management Survey) Survey that’s being conducted through the end of March. Here you can see me interviewing Gene Danekas, Missouri Director of Statistics, for audio we’ll include with the next release scheduled for distribution on February 7. Gene just recently presented this strategy to a group of visiting agricultural statisticians who were in Kansas City. Posted by Hello


Interesting Lunch Questions

Chuck Zimmerman

At lunch today the discussion centered around blogging of course and how this might become useful in the agricultural communications world since there isn’t much of it yet.

I’m going to write about a couple of the questions that were raised since I think they are of widespread interest. For example, it’s going to be somewhat challenging but I’m going to have to address the NAFB (National Association of Farm Broadcasters). I’ve been a member since about 1985 and still am but they’re facing some challenges. This should make for some interesting posts and I hope comments!

First, however, I’d like to challenge communications professionals to think about distributing information in a very new way. Blog it! Especially as it relates to you member organizations who hold big conventions and trade shows.

I’ll be attending the 2005 Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio and plan to provide plenty of posts going and coming. Especially since I just got my Dell AXIM pda a great little wireless lan card that I tested out tonight. I’ll be looking for those wi-fi hotspots!