The Atlantic Canada Farm Writers’ Association presents: Building your Communications Toolbox

2012 Professional Development Day

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 ~ 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Schnitzel Haus Restaurant*

153 Aulac Road, Aulac New Brunswick

 9:30 –   10:00 AM          Registration

10:00 – 12:00 PM           The Social Shift –Communicating is not what it used to be. We’ve evolved to an on-demand   reader who wants their news immediately, and wants to share their views right   away, in real time. What are you doing to keep up? Social media guru Andrew   Campbell, Fresh Air Media, will highlight the social media shift and how   it will affect you, your organization or business, and more importantly, your audience. He’ll also cover some important how-to ideas when talking about your brand, and how to take advantage of tools that are free to use.

12:00 – 1:00 PM             Buffet lunch – Enjoy the delicious variety of   food and mingling 

1:00 – 3:00   PM             Refreshing Newsletters –Want to add more oomph to your newsletter? Have it read more? Is it effectively spreading the word? Emily Brennan, associate with Cape Consulting Group will share her experiences developing and re-jigging newsletters for clients. She’ll also cover tips and tricks for organizing content and   designing a style that invites your reader.

Cost to attend   (payable at registration): $30, includes buffet lunch

Everyone is welcome! If you do any kind of communications work in agriculture, whether it’s direct market sales to consumers, newsletters for your ag organization membership or social media for your farm group, come and build your communications toolbox.

To help ensure your lunch, please register BEFORE Friday, December 7

with Andy Walker at awalker@pei.sympatico.ca
(Please indicate any food allergies or restrictions)

*Directions to Schnitzel Haus Restaurant

From NS and NB

  • From  Trans Canada Highway 2, take exit #513A (Aulac)
  • Merge/turn right off the ramp onto Highway 16
  • At the stop sign, you will see the restaurant directly in front of you (~ 100 m)

From PEI

  • Travel west from the Confederation Bridge on NB-Highway 16 towards Aulac (~ 65 km)
  • The highway will end at a stop sign directly in front of the restaurant.

Social Media: Use Your Twitter Lists

I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog by posting a social media tip that I’ve found particularly helpful in this spinning technology-driven era.

So, here we go:

I’m a huge believer in using the list feature on Twitter. It helps organize the conversations that are coming in to your news feed. I find lists also help me focus the messages that I’m sending out. If I spend a lot of time reading my Atlantic Canada list — most of whom are not farmers — then my tweets tend to be more about more every day events and happenings. If I’m only reading my Canadian Farmer lists, then that’s where my mind is, that’s where I’m gathering my information and that’s what I’m tweeting about.

Keeping up on lists is an important for time management. It’s far easier to organize and sort people as you follow them then it is to go back through several hundred. Also remember that you can only list 500 tweeps under each list heading. One of my farm writer colleagues reorganized his Canadian Farmer list into sector headings: Dairy, Livestock and Crops. So when you’re creating lists, think ahead a bit to who you may follow and organize your lists into specific, yet not constricting, headings.

You can only create lists and sort those you follow on Twitter. You can also select, on creation of the list, whether your lists are public or private. Another Canadian farm writer on Twitter apparently didn’t know that lists could be private, as I was checking out his lists and found myself, as well as other colleagues, on a list he called Writers Who I’ve Blocked. Your Twitter followers can subscribe you your lists, so they will  receive the news feed from this list, even though they may not follow everyone on the list. As well, just as you can list who you follow, you can also be listed by those who follow you. I’m always interested to see which headings I’m classified under and what label I wear for others.

Being on a list helps your Twitter message be heard. One colleague on Twitter appeared to me to only post a few updates a day. Considering that he’s widely known as an expert in social media, I kind of always wondered why he wasn’t doing a better job at getting his message out. Well, it turns out he was doing a great job, but I was just missing all of his posts as he wasn’t included on any of my lists. Now that I have him tagged and sorted, I’m discovering that he has all kinds of things to say. Before, he was just getting lost in the fray.

Farm Writers in Atlantic Canada

Have you ever had the experience of working with people who are so excited and enthused about a project that it rubs off on you? I love that feeling.

I had that experience earlier this week when I had a conference call meeting with three people from Atlantic Canada. Together, we’re working to start a regional branch of our national farm writers’ guild, the Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (CFWF).

Up front, I have to say that the desire to start our own group is in no way a reflection of the branch we currently belong to, the Eastern Canadian Farm Writers’ Federation (ECFWA). The simple vastness of Canada and the geographic divide between the majority of our current ECFWA members means farm writers in Atlantic Canada feel disconnected.

Personally, the desire to gather together with some of our own is inspired by ECFWA, as well as CFWF and our international group, the International Federation of Agriculture Journalists (IFAJ). Once I experienced gatherings with like-minded individuals, I felt the aspiration to do it more often with those closer to me.

Not all farm writers in Atlantic Canada are onboard with the formation of a regional group. Some have said they want to maintain connections with former colleagues within ECFWA, while others may not be interested in the work involved in setting up a new organization (not that anyone has said that to me, I’m just speculating). I hope they’ll reconsider.

The folks I met with earlier this week are keen and ready to get a local group formed. We’re pooling our talents to host a day of farm and research centre tours on June 4.

Early in my career when I wrote for daily newspapers from rural New Brunswick, I kept hearing the untold stories of farmers and opted to help be one of their voices. From that, I found out about CFWF and that connection eventually led me to focus my career on agriculture writing.

Through CFWF, I’ve toured farms across the country, met agriculture experts and associates, gained writing and editing jobs and met hundreds of Canadian farmers. I’ve also met a lot of great people and developed some very good friendships.

Cumulatively, what the organizations have given me inspire me to help create like opportunities for farm writers in Atlantic Canada. I hope we’ll create a network, come to count on each other and grow opportunities for ourselves.

Then together, we can help farmers tell their stories about the food they grow for us.