Agriculture Communication


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Ag Comm Staff Honored by Press Women

Ellen Crawford, Ag Communication information specialist, was honored as one of 10 nominees for the Communicator of Achievement award at the September National Federation of Press Women conference in Scottsdale, Ariz. Crawford represented North Dakota Professional Communicators in the national competition. Communicator of Achievement is NFPW’s highest honor. Crawford serves as NDPC and NFPW treasurer.

Also at the NFPW conference, communications awards were presented to:

  • Crawford – second in news reporting in a publication/magazine for general or specialized circulation for articles on the NDSU Extension Service’s Rural Leadership North Dakota and farm/ranch transition planning programs
  • Becky Koch, Ag Communication director – first in website development: not-for-profit, government or educational for the NDSU Extension Service flood website; first in PowerPoint for the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) Family Preparedness educational program; first in four-color magapaper/tabloid for the Livestock and Land Stewardship Ag Mag; first in electronic manuals and handbooks for the EDEN Family Preparedness educational program leaders guide
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Email Etiquette

We all use email so much that we almost take it for granted and write messages so quickly that we often don't think before hitting "send."

Target your emails as much as possible. Use the list on our password-protected Ag Info Center to find the email lists that go to exactly the people you want to reach. Really think before sending to an "all" list. The "allag" email list truly goes to everyone under the umbrella of the Vice President for Agricultural Affairs. Does the family and consumer sciences agent in Stark-Billings county want to receive your campus seminar information? Does the ABEN administrative assistant really need to know about a 4-H program? Even with the "allext" and "all-exp" lists, think about if all those people need the information. Instead, use the other list options to more directly reach your target audience.

Give your email a specific description in the subject line. Recently I've received messages with the subject "question," "you are invited," "save the date" and "Friday seminar." Vague subject lines like these don't motivate people to open the messages and make it harder to retrieve them later. Also, don't leave the subject line blank since those messages rarely make it through the spam filters.

Write and design email messages for easy reading.

  • Use short paragraphs.
  • Use bullets.
  • Boldface a few important words or dates.
  • Start with the most important information then provide needed details.
  • Proofread and edit before sending.

Becky Koch, Ag Communication Director (701) 231-7875

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Large-format Materials Available in Ag Comm

Have a public meeting, marketing display, professional meeting or other event coming up? Ag Communication can design and create large-format color banners in retractable stands, posters, paper and vinyl banners, vinyl logo table runners and full-size figure cut-outs, as well as tabletop displays. We can print from your file or create your poster or display. Call or email for details.

John Grindahl, Graphic Designer, (701) 231-7898

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Flick Your Photos onto Flickr

Have you thought about sharing photos with your colleagues? We would like you to try Flickr and use our NDSU Ag Communication Group to share with more than one colleague at a time.

Recently our site was able to share an image with someone outside of the country who was working on educational information to teach kids in a foreign country. We have great information to disseminate, and that includes photos.

Just go to the Flick Your Photos onto Flickr training on the Ag Comm Training and Tutorials page. If you already have a Flickr account and you want to join, search for the NDSU Ag Communication Group and click the "Join This Group" button. When request to join, be sure to give your full name in the message you add to the request.

Since entries in the Gamma Sigma Delta photo contest are due Nov. 16, consider sharing some of your photos both in the contest and on the Flickr site. Check out the Oct. 15 email from Char Kuss for contest details.

David Haasser, Graphic Designer, (701) 231-8620

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Beware of Hidden Software Installs

With all of the many legitimate software updates we have on our computers, there are many opportunities for unwanted software to install itself with these updates. Whether it’s a Java, Adobe Reader or Adobe Flash update, there can be options during the install that need attention.

Here is an example of the McAfee Security Scan Plus option that comes with the Java update. By default the box is checked and this program will be installed with the update. By itself, this could be a useful program, but having it installed with our Microsoft Forefront anti-virus program can cause performance and stability problems. Before finishing an update by clicking on the Install or Next button, just make sure there isn’t some unwanted program that needs to have an option box unchecked. It just may save you from some unwanted computer issues.

Desktop Support Specialists Jon Fry, (701) 231-7934; Jerry Ranum, (701) 231-6395; Blair Johnson, (701) 231-7896

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Tweeting Fall Conference

A number of people will be using Twitter to share information from the 2012 Extension/REC Fall Conference, Nov. 5 - 8.

The conference hashtag is #ndsuconf2012.

If you'd like to start using Twitter to find and share information about Fall Conference or anything else you're interested in, checkout our "Tweeting Fall Conference" video. It will show you how to create a Twitter account and start using it.

If you just want to keep up on the tweets from Fall Conference, visit

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381; Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Write the Right Word: ‘Both’ Often Unnecessary

Avoid the urge to insert “both” in sentences that don’t need it.

These are examples in which it’s not necessary: “Both Tom and Dick attended the play.”  Or this: “Prices for both wheat and corn were much higher this year.”

Just remember that “both” refers to two people or things. It’s not necessary in these examples because the two people (Tom and Dick) or things (wheat and corn) are specified. “Both” is needed only when those people or things are not identified and you want the reader to know you are referring to two individuals or items.

Here are some examples of its correct usage: “We met Lisa and Susan, who are sisters.” or “We met both sisters.” “Researchers planted switchgrass in trial plots 12 and 14.” or “Researchers planted switchgrass in both trial plots.”

Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Scheduling Posts for Facebook Pages- Set It and Forget It

Easy way to pre-publish your Facebook posts.

(applies to Facebook Pages only, not personal Facebook pages)

  1. Choose the type of post you want to add to your Page (Status or Photo/Video upload)

  2. Click on the type of post and add text and/or photo or video
  3. In the lower left, click on the clock icon
    Click on clock in the lower left

  4. Add year, month, day, time and minute you want the post to be published
    • All times correspond to the current time zone you're in
    • You can schedule a post up to 6 months in advance in 15-minute intervals

      Choose year, month, day, hour and minute post will publish
  5. Click Schedule. Your scheduled post will be saved in the Activity Log

To view scheduled posts, go to Edit Page, then Use Activity Log

User Activity Log

You can change the date, publish immediately or cancel the post. Unfortunately, the content itself cannot be edited.

Facebook Activity Log

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Write the Right Word: Avoid Using Brand Names

Try not to use brand names unless they are essential to your message because we don’t want to appear to be endorsing a particular product or company.

Brand name is a nonlegal term for a service mark or trademark.

Use a generic version when possible. For example: “Camp activities will include swimming, canoeing and in-line skating (not Rollerblading).” “Put all of the ingredients into a slow cooker (not Crock Pot) and cook on high for six hours.”

However, using a brand name is unavoidable sometimes. For example, “Baythroid XL is one insecticide registered for use in barley.” In this case, a generic term would not be specific enough.

If we use brand names in an Extension publication, this is what the university attorney suggested we put at the end of the publication: The NDSU Extension Service does not endorse commercial products or companies even though reference may be made to trade names, trademarks or service names.


Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Taking Control of Your Learning Webinars

In September 2012, Ag Comm Web Services offered 3 webinars to help people take control of their own learning through the use of a personal learning network. If you are interested in building a personal learning network, check out the recordings below to help you get started.

They are archives of Wimba webconferences. If prompted for a "room" when accessing the archive, enter "NDSU_Ag".

Start Managing Your Own Learning - If you are not actively keeping up with your own learning and professional development, you are falling behind. A Personal Learning Network (PLN) can provide you with learning from leaders, experts and colleagues around the world, bringing together communities, resources and information impossible to access from within your office walls. Learn how you can get started on your own PLN and contribute to your professional development.

Getting Online Information to Come to You - One key to effective learning in the digital age is to get information to come to you. Learn how you can use online tools to get the information you need to come to you.

Finding People To Learn From - If you want to discover relevant online information that you can trust, connect with smart people who share your interests. People should be a big part of your online network. Learn how use social media to find and follow people who can really enhance your learning and professional development.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381; Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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