Agriculture Communication


Agriculture Communication

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Cleaner Way to Copy and Paste into Ag CMS

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Sometimes when you copy and paste text from a Word or PDF document into Ag CMS, the formatting can be significantly altered. This is because programs like Word carry over some background code when you’re transporting your copy into paste.

 To avoid this, paste the text into Microsoft Notebook (which should be a standard app on your PC), which eliminates all formatting. This should make working with text in Ag CMS easier.

 Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist 701-231-6403

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Write the Right Word: Me, Myself and I

Despite the way it’s often used, “myself” is not a substitute for “me” or “I.”

You’ve probably seen a sentence such as this: “Please contact John Smith, Mary Doe or myself for more information about the workshop.” The “myself” is incorrect because it is a reflexive pronoun that should be used when you are the object of your own action; that is, when you are doing something to you. “Me” is the correct word.

An easy way to remember which is right is to delete the other people in the sentence. You would not say, “Please contact myself.” You would say, “Please contact me for more information about the workshop.” So the sentence should be: “Please contact John Smith, Mary Doe or me for more information about the workshop.”

A reflexive pronoun always is the object of a sentence; it never can be the subject. A subject is the one doing something in a sentence; the object is the one having something done. So if I pet the dog, I am the subject and the dog is the object. You wouldn’t say, “Myself petted the dog,” so don’t say, “Fred and myself petted the dog.” The sentence should read, “Fred and I petted the dog.”

Whether to use “me” or “I” also seems to confuse writers. A good way to determine which to use is to take out the other people in the sentence. In the sentence, “Jim asked Tim and me to go fishing,” “me” is correct because you wouldn’t say, “Jim asked I to go fishing.” On the other hand, “Tina and I went to the mall” is correct because you wouldn’t say, “Me went to the mall.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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Sharing Videos on Websites and Social Media

Videos are among of the most popular content on the web and social media, but sharing them on your website or in social media can be confusing.

There are two main methods of sharing videos on a website, linking to the video file (e.g. MP4, WMV or MOV) or embedding a video that has already been uploaded to a video streaming service, like YouTube. Don't link directly to a video file on your website. Most video files are large. They take up storage space on Ag CMS or other web servers, and they need to be downloaded before a website visitor can watch them. Downloading these large files can take a long time, and, if the user is on a mobile device, it can impact their data plan.

Instead of uploading and linking to the video file, embed it into your website from a video streaming service. There are hundreds of educational videos on the NDSU Extension YouTube channel. To learn how to embed a YouTube video on an Ag CMS website, check out this article, How Do I Insert/Embed a YouTube Video or Playlist on My Website? If your video is not on a streaming service, let me know. We may be able to add it to the NDSU Extension channel or help you get it uploaded elsewhere.

Here's a video I embedded in this web page.

Videos from YouTube or another video streaming service don't need to be embedded in social media posts, you can simply share them as a link. Just go to the video on YouTube and click the "Share" button to copy the link to the video. When you paste the link into your post on Facebook and Twitter, a graphical link to the video will be displayed at the bottom of your post.

One major drawback to this method is that users will be taken to YouTube to watch the video. If you have access to your video file, you can upload the video directly to Facebook or Twitter, so users can watch your video without leaving their news feed.

Facebook will accept MP4 and MOV video files with a file size of 4GB or smaller and are 120 minutes or less in length. Here are Facebook's instructions for uploading video to your Facebook Page, How do I add or edit a video on my Page?

Twitter will accept MP4 and MOV video files with a file size of 512MB or smaller and are 2 minutes and 20 seconds or less in length. Here are Twitter's instructions for sharing video, How to share and watch videos on Twitter.

If you have questions or need assistance embedding or sharing video, please let me know.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-7381

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Are You a Robot?

Have you ever been on a website or filling out an online form when it asks you to input re-key a display of distorted letters or check a box to “verify you are not a robot”? This is called a Captcha, which means Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.

It is a way for an online form to discourage hackers and bots from spamming your form. Their systems aren’t usually able to decipher the distorted letters.

I’m seeing on the Google Forms I’ve worked on for various staff there’s a Captcha that asks you to show how many of a particular object in 9 squares. In the example below, check all those that have a car in the box. So if you ever see this on your Google form for inside or outside of work, just know that it is for the form owner to protect itself from spam.

It can be a pain for you to decipher the objects in the blocks, especially those with sight disabilities but it is there to help so don’t be alarmed if you see these pop up.

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

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Write the Right Word: Hyphens

The Associated Press Stylebook, which Ag Comm uses as its writing guide, has eased the rules for hyphens.

The basic rules are that hyphens are joiners. Use them to avoid ambiguity or to form a single idea from two or more words.

Think of hyphens as an aid to readers’ comprehension. If a hyphen makes the meaning clearer, use it. If it just adds clutter and distraction to the sentence, don’t use it.

One of the biggest changes is that you no longer have to hyphenate most compound modifiers after versions of the verb “to be.” For example: “The man is well liked.” “The children are soft spoken.”

Also, you don’t need a hyphen when you use a modifier and the meaning is clear without it. Examples include chocolate chip cookie, special effects embellishment, climate change report, public land management, real estate transaction, emergency room visit, cat food bowl, parking lot entrance, national security briefing, computer software maker.

However, one rule that hasn’t changed is that you don’t need a hyphen in phrases that start with “very” or adverbs ending in -ly. For instance, “2018 was a very good year for producers.” “This is an easily remembered rule.”

You also still need to hyphenate two-word modifiers if they come before a noun. For example: “The nominee is a well-known producer.” “Farming is a full-time job.”

Ellen Crawford, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391


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Designing a Powerful Publication


Sept. 6, 2019 - Where do you begin when you start to design or redesign something? Whether it’s a “save the date” card or a flyer, the bullets below will help you move your design from amateurish to professional.

  • Sample Flyer

    Start with the focal point. Decide what it is you want readers to see first. Create your focal point with strong contrasts.
  • Group your information into logical groups, and decide on the relationships between these groups. Display those relationships with the closeness or lack of closeness (proximity) of the groups.
  • As you arrange the type and graphics on the page, create and maintain strong alignments. If you see a strong edge, such as a photograph or vertical line, strengthen it with the alignments of other text or objects.
  • Create a repetition, or find items that can have a repetitive connection. Use a bold typeface or a rule or a dingbat. Look at what is already repeated naturally, and see if it would be appropriate to add more strength to it.
  • Make sure you have strong contrasts that will attract the reader’s eye. Remember — contrast is contrast. If everything on the page is big, bold and flashy, then there is no contrast! Whether it is contrasting by being bigger and bolder or by being smaller and lighter, the point is that it is different and so your eye is attracted to it.
    Source: The Non-Designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams

To dig deeper into these concepts, go to Powerful Publications to learn how to make your designs more sophisticated.

Deb Tanner, Graphic Designer, 701-231-7891

David Haasser, Graphic Designer, 701-231-8620

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The Rule of Seven

The Rule of SevenSept. 5, 2019 - I recently judged the 4-H Beef Showmanship contest at the Minnesota State Fair. More than 550 contestants showed their animals in 38 classes. After each class, I asked the observers to honor the contestants with a round of applause as they exited the ring.

After about 12 classes, I sounded like a broken record and started to second guess whether I should keep asking the crowd to applaud.  My marketing and branding background quickly took over when I realized that even though I was saying the same thing over and over again, my audience was changing each time. As new contestants entered the show ring, new audience members sat down on the bleachers to watch. I could see the look of pride on the faces of parents, grandparents, 4-H leaders and friends, as they clapped for their chosen contestant. I learned that day that even though I was tired of saying the same thing over and over, my changing audience was hearing it for the first time.

The Rule of Seven is a marketing principle that says a potential customer needs to see or hear our marketing message at least seven times before they take action.

The same principle applies to our NDSU marketing and branding messages. It can feel uncreative and repetitive to use the same green and yellow color scheme and the same branded templates each time we create a promotional piece for a program or field day, but many times our audience is new and/or hasn’t noticed our message.

For example, let’s look at seven different ways an NDSU Research Extension Center could market and brand an upcoming field day:

  1. An NDSU-branded flyer posted at local agricultural businesses
  2. An NDSU-branded postcard sent to past field day participants
  3. A post on the REC’s Facebook page with a photo or graphic
  4. A news release sent to local media
  5. Asking the field day’s presenters to share about the event on their social media channels
  6. A blog post on the REC’s webpage
  7. Using NDSU-branded PowerPoint templates during the field day

Though we can’t guarantee that one person will see all of these marketing messages, we can hope a combination of these methods would help a potential field day participant make the connection that it is an NDSU event, choose to come to the event, and understand that NDSU research scientists, specialists and staff helped contribute to the educational experience.

The NDSU branding guidelines and the NDSU Extension branded templates are great resources to help you better market and brand our information.

Remember, just because we are familiar with NDSU doesn’t mean our audiences are familiar with all the programs and information we provide. We have to be diligent about helping them make the connection and subsequently recognizing the value and impact of our work.

, Information Specialist, 701-231-6136

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Cross Promote Your Web Updates and Social Media Posts (9/05/19)

Any time you update your website could be an opportunity to share an event or program on your social media channels (if it fits your social media strategy). For instance, if you embed a new video on your website, you can’t expect that people will just stumble across it while searching. “If you build it, they will come may work for baseball fields but not web updates.

Your website audience might differ from your social media audience(s) so it’s a good idea to cover your bases to ensure new web content is seen. For example, if adding a new video or a field day announcement, link to those as a social media post.

Likewise, your social media channels should link back to your website, whether it’s Facebook’s “About” page, “Link in Bio” on Instagram or web info on Twitter. 

This gives your social media followers a chance to learn more about who you are and what you do and another way to contact you.

Examples of links back to websites on social media:

Follow NDSU Extension on Facebook:

NDSU Extension Facebook

Follow NDSU Extension on Twitter

NDSU Extension Twitter

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

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Write the Right Word: Spelling Can Affect Words’ Meanings

Just a few letters can make a big difference in the meaning of a word. Here are four examples:

  • Accept/except

“Accept” means to receive. For example: “I accept your offer to give me a ride.”

“Except” means to exclude. For instance: “I will take all of the books except the dictionary because it is too heavy to carry.”

  • Adverse/averse

“Adverse” means unfavorable. “I hope we don’t have adverse weather the day of the groundbreaking.”

“Averse” means reluctant or opposed to something. “She is averse to change.”

  • Allusion/illusion

An “allusion” is an indirect reference to something or someone. “He alluded to an earlier argument.”

An “illusion” is an unreal or false impression. “The painter created the illusion of motion in his masterpiece.”

  • Principal/principle

A “principal” is someone or something first in rank, authority or importance. “He is the principal at the new high school.” Principal also is the amount of money borrowed in a loan.

A “principle” is a fundamental truth, law, doctrine or motivating force. “All internal combustion engines work on the same principles.”

Ellen Crawford, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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Tips for Running Facebook Contests

FB Contest
A graphic promoting a contest on the Family Table Facebook page, featuring a photo of the prizes and instructions for entering.

If the engagement numbers on your Facebook Page are low or you just want get more people to follow your page, consider trying a Facebook contest. Facebook used to require pages to use third-party apps to run contests, but they have loosened the restrictions. Now you can run a contest with a simple post if you keep a few things in mind.

  • Don't break the law. For example, don't require contestants to spend money to enter. If you do, you might be breaking local, state or federal gambling laws.
  • Don't require people to share on their personal timelines or tag their friends. Facebook policy prohibits those practices. You can boil it down to don't be spammy or creepy. Allow people to enter by commenting on a post or posting to your Page's timeline.
  • Have a goal in mind. Let your goal dictate your contest rules. For example, if you want to boost your engagement numbers, ask people to comment on a post. if you want more follows, ask them to follow.
  • Keep it simple. Don't give people 3 or 4 different ways to enter. That will make it hard on you, and it may cause them to not enter at all because they can't choose which method they want to use. If you are using a single post for entry, make sure you pin the post to the top of your page, so people can easily find it for the duration of the contest.

If you want more tips and ideas, here's a great blog post from HootSuite with much more information.

Good luck!

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-7381

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