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Write the Right Word: 4-H’er

If you’re looking for a shorter version of 4-H member, it’s 4-H’er.

Remember to put the apostrophe between the “H” and “er.” You need the apostrophe because it is replacing something – the “memb” in “member.”

For example: “Bill Smith has been a 4-H’er for 10 years.”

If you are referring to more than one 4-H’er, simply add an “s.” Don’t use an apostrophe before or after the “s.” For example: “Five 4-H’ers volunteered to rake leaves at the senior citizens center.”

While on the subject of 4-H, it’s one of the few exceptions to the rule that warns writers not to start sentences with a number. For instance: “4-H is the largest and only research-based youth organization in North Dakota.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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Back Up Your Outlook Contacts

Most people don't just use the Outlook contacts stored in the global address book, but also create their own custom contact lists for specific purposes.

However, what most of us don't realize is that while the global address book is backed up to the cloud, our custom contact lists are not. This means that should we have problems with Outlook or something happen to our computer, those lists could be gone for good.

To prevent this from happening, we strongly recommend you back up your Outlook contacts periodically. This is especially important after you create new lists to ensure that, if the need arises, you can get them back without having to do a lot of extra work.

Please take a look at this step-by-step guide to backing up your Outlook contacts for additional information on how to safeguard all your hard work.

, IT Systems Specialist  |  NDSU Help Desk 701-231-8685 Option 1

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Facebook Live Events Get 800+ Views

screenshots of facebook live streamsLive streaming or broadcasting live from your mobile device is all the rage in 2016. Whether it’s Facebook Live, YouTube Live or Periscope, people are consuming videos more than ever, and it’s becoming people’s preferred method to do so versus reading an article or a Facebook Post.

Ashley Ueckert, Extension agent in Golden Valley County, did a Facebook Live stream a couple weeks ago on upcoming events. The video was viewed more than 450 times. She notes, “It was actually kind of fun, and I had no idea so many people would notice a video.” People can comment, and the streamer can respond, creating live engagement. A video can be more personal and spontaneous and less work than a newsletter update.

Since Facebook realizes the popularity of video, they rank higher in News Feeds, so you likely will see Friends' or Pages' videos before regular posts. Your video doesn’t disappear after the Live stream, so people can come back to watch it later.

Live Streaming How-To’s and Tips


  • Have someone read comments and questions off the phone screen while the rear-facing camera is pointed at you. (Note: Your phone may not have a microphone on the rear-facing side, so you'll want to use an external mic, see more below.)

  • Another good reason to have the rear-facing camera pointed at the speaker is because any text (let’s say on your shirt, on a poster in the background or any documents you share) will be backwards.

  • Have the stream run at least 10 minutes because the longer you broadcast (you can stream up to 90 minutes), the more time you have to get Likes, Comments and Shares, which will further increase your visibility in people’s News Feeds.

  • For equipment, live streaming requires a smartphone and a phone stand or tripod to ensure a steady video. Ag Comm has a smartphone tripod adapter for checkout.

On Sept. 28, the NDSU Extension Facebook Page did a Live stream with Daryl Ritchison, NDAWN research specialist. Ag Comm information specialist Kelli Armbruster interviewed Daryl for Sound Ag Advice, Ag Comm’s weekly podcast. After the interview, Daryl took questions for viewers about North Dakota weather.

You can
view the 15:12 video here. Though this pilot had a few technical issues, about an hour after the stream ended, there were 259 views and 870 people reached. Almost three hours later, there were 390 views and 1,253 people reached.


Facebook provides robust analytics for posts and videos. In the live stream with Daryl, 322 minutes of the 15:20 stream were watched with 31% of them being men and 66% women. Nearly 75% of the audience was in North Dakota. FB Live analytics

Lessons Learned from Our First Live Stream

1. If your phone does not have a microphone on each side, get a phone mic or check one out from Ag Comm.

2. Turn your phone notifications off. Although taking a video should cancel out any ringtones or alerts, test that. Turn off vibrate, too, because that can cause disruption, even with a tripod.

3. People do not need to have a Facebook login to view the Live stream so be sure to mention this when promoting your video.

How can you envision live streaming working in your work? We’d love to hear your ideas and help you get started.

Bob Bertsch, 701-231-7381; Sonja Fuchs, 701-231-6403; Web Technology Specialists

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Applying Communication Planning to Event Promotion

Ag Communication uses a four-part communication planning strategy as the basis for Communication Camp and other training. We ask participants to apply the strategy to change behavior, but you can use the strategy for any communication effort, even event promotion.


To identify your goals, ask, "What am I trying to change?" You might not be trying to change people's behavior with your event promotion, but you are trying to get them to take action.

Obviously, you want them to attend your event. But think about the other actions you want people to take. Do you want them to share the event with their friends? Do you want to engage them as advisers or volunteers?

Be clear about what action you want people to take because that influences how to go about getting them to take that action.

Target Audience

Define your target audience by asking, "Who do I need to reach to achieve our goal?" The most common mistake people make is creating posters, news releases, email blasts, etc. with only the general public in mind.

When promoting an event, be thoughtful about how to communicate with a specific target audience.

Even within your target audience, there may be subsets that need to be addressed in different ways. You might vary your messages to appeal to males rather than females, or to low-income families rather than middle-income families.

Key Messages

Start developing your key messages by asking, "What do I need to say to get people to act?"

Focus less on what you want people to know and more on what you want them to do. In event promotion, this often means actually asking people to attend. Many event posters and brochures use most of the page space telling people what will happen at the event. They dedicate much less space to inviting people to register.

Also, tell them how to do it. "Register Now" is worthless if you don't tell them how to register. The same is true if you are asking people to share an event with their friends. "Please share this event" is not enough. People need to know how to share it. Do you have a Facebook post I can share? Can I download and print some fliers to hand out?

User Scenarios

User scenarios answer, “When and where do I need to say it to get them to act?” by imagining the situation or environment a member of your target audience might be in when they are most ready to act. User scenarios also can help you identify the steps a person might need to follow to take action.

When I worked in radio, we advertised almost exclusively on billboards. Our goal was to get people to tune in to our station. When we imagined when and where our target audience would be most likely to take that action, it was obvious we needed to reach them in their cars, so billboards made the most sense.

If your target audience is young parents, what steps might they need to go through to attend your event? Do they need to find childcare? If so, is there a way to reschedule to ease that need or could you partner with someone to offer an event for children that coincides with your event? How might you communicate with them differently having thought more about this user scenario?

I hope you'll consider the four parts of communication planning before you start promoting your next event, and let me know if you think it made a difference.

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

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Write the Right Word: Matching Nouns and Verbs

Collective nouns can be confusing.

They are nouns - such as faculty, company, panel, couple, herd - that are singular in form but plural in meaning. But because they indicate a single unit, they take singular verbs.

Here are some examples: “The faculty is meeting today.” “The company announced it is reopening tomorrow.” “The older herd of cattle was sold last.”

Some of these nouns can be tricky, depending on their use. In the faculty example, faculty needs a singular verb, “is,” because the faculty is a group working together in agreement. However, if the faculty members begin operating as individuals, then you’d need to use a plural verb. For instance: “The faculty disagree on whether to hold another meeting before the end of the semester.”

Here’s another example of usage making a difference: “The couple is buying a house.” (The couple is acting as one unit.) But, “The couple have separate checking accounts.” (They are operating as individuals.)

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391  

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Easy to Take Screenshots

Have you ever had the need to take a screenshot or a “screen grab”? Maybe you need to show the ITS Helpdesk an error you’re getting on your computer. Or maybe a screenshot is more print-friendly than a webpage.

Microsoft Snipping Tool

Microsoft Snipping tool is already installed on your computer and it’s easy to use. You can mark up the screenshot using the pen and highlighter tools. Here’s a 2:45 video that shows the Snipping tool in action.MS snipping tool


For additional functionality, I like to use TechSmith’s Jing. Check out a quick video demo on their homepage. It is free and you can also record videos up to 5 minutes in length. Jing also allows you to use a text box, frame, arrows to draw attention, and more colors.

 If you need help taking a screenshot, please contact me.

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

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Audio Help for Skype Calls

Able to get into a Skype meeting but can't hear any sound? This has happened to more than a few people who I've been on Skype calls with. All you have to do is see what audio device is set up with your call. This video that shows you how to switch between speakers when you're in a Skype call and this one shows you how to set up new audio and video on Skype. Feel free to Skype me anytime (as long as my status is green or "go") to test your Skype audio.

Sonja Skype status

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

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Ag Comm Webinar: Online Surveys

Online forms are a great way to gather registration information, participant feedback and more. In this Ag Comm webinar shows you how to create online forms using Excel Surveys and Microsoft Forms in Microsoft Office 365. We also talk about Google Forms and Qualtrics, and share some ideas for using online forms in your work.

The notes from the webinar are available in a Google Doc that you can edit. Please feel free to add your own tips and insights to the notes.

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Upcoming IT Survey

Over the next couple of months, Ag Comm Computer Services will be working to contact each of our county offices to conduct a survey on how they use IT, what their current equipment status is and who their primary support people are.  We are looking to update our information in order to better understand each office's support needs.

This survey will include a questionnaire and a small piece of software to be run on each computer that will provide us with a list of technical details of each machine.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact or .

, Ag Comm Computer Services

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Managing Collaboration in Google Docs and Word Online

Google Docs and Microsoft Word Online are both great tools for collaborating on a document, but it can be unnerving to have multiple people editing a document, sometimes simultaneously. What happens if someone messes up a deletes something important? Can I revert to an earlier version?

If you are using Word Online for collaboration, you should start be creating the document in Microsoft Word on your desktop, not online in Office 365. This allows you to turn on "Track Changes." When you open that document in Word Online, you won't see the tracked changes, but you will see them when you open it in Word on your desktop.

Another option for managing collaboration in Word Online is the use of comments. New comments can be added under the "Review" tab in Word Online. Suggesting changes to a document in a comment rather than changing the text directly, allows your collaborators to discuss the changes before accepting them.

If you're collaborating on a document in real-time, and the changes become overwhelming, turn on "Show Edit Activity" under the "Review" tab in Word Online. That will show who is making which changes to a document. This only works while you have the document open. Once you close the document and re-enter, you will not see any of the editing activity that took place before you closed it.

Google Docs makes managing collaboration a little bit easier than Word Online. "Suggesting" mode in Google Docs allows you to edit the text of a document, but only as a suggestion. If you are editing something created by someone else, it will email that person to let them know about the change.

Google Docs Suggestion

To turn on "Suggesting" mode in Google Docs, click the "Editing" button near the top-right of the document your are editing and choose "Suggesting."

Google Docs also gives you access to the full revision history of a document. By clicking "File," then "See revision history," you can see all the changes made to a document since its creation along with who made the changes. You can also revert back to any of those previous revisions.

Collaborating on a single document (without emailing it back and forth), sometimes in real-time, can be scary. I hope these features help put your mind at ease and get you started collaborating online.

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

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