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Agriculture Communication

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Facebook Page or Group?

Here’s some things to consider when deciding on a Facebook Page vs. a Group.

Facebook Pages are public and can be verified as “official”, while Groups can be private, public and even secret and rally around a shared interest. For instance, NDSU Extension Innovation Group is not limited to Extension employees. Anyone interested in Working Differently can join the Group. Since it is a closed group, those requests must be approved the Groups Administrator (Bob Bertsch).

Innovation logo.PNG
Groups can be open or closed, depending on how public you want your conversation to be.

Besides the innovation group, I’ve heard of agents who start groups for 4-H parents so they can share information and photos.

When deciding on a Page or Group, first you’ll want to consider if your audience is on Facebook at all. Chances are yes, as Facebook reported 1 billion daily active users last year.

Read more at Facebook Page vs. Group.

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, 231-6403

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Using Office Mix for Recorded Presentations

Recently, I worked with Extension family science specialist Kim Bushaw on a series of presentations on Teaching Adult Learners. The goal was to produce some pre-recorded presentations that Extension professionals view on demand.

There's a number of tools available to reach that goal, including Tegrity, Skype for Business, or simply adding audio to PowerPoint, but we decided to try Office Mix, a relatively new, free plug-in for PowerPoint.

Office Mix helps you create and share interactive videos from within PowerPoint. Although Kim and I did not take advantage of all the capabilities of Office Mix, it did allow us to add video of Kim and digital ink on top of her presentation slides. Kim also found it easy to work with and was able to produce the presentations herself.

Here's one of the videos from the "Teaching Adult Learners" series.

Completed Office Mix presentations can be uploaded to Microsoft's Office Mix site, which supports the polls and interactive apps available in Mix. We exported the "Teaching Adult Learners" presentations to video and posted them to YouTube.

Let me know if you have questions about how Kim and I used Office Mix. I hope you'll give it a try.

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

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Write the Right Word: When Not to Capitalize

You’ve probably read an ad, letter, email or other text with all of the words capitalized. Did you find the words hard to read?

If you did, some research can tell you why. Although the writer’s intent was to emphasize the message, the all-caps text actually de-emphasizes it because every letter is the same size. Contrast in letter size make text easier to read.

We’re not used to seeing every letter capitalized, so we have to slow our reading to make sense of what we’re seeing. While readers eventually can decipher the message, why make it hard for people to read? People are busy, and if they have to spend too much time trying to figure out what you’ve written, they probably will give up and move on to something easier to read.

Another reason not to capitalize everything is that all caps can give the impression you are shouting at the reader. People don’t take kindly to someone yelling at them, even in print.

While we’re on the subject of capitalization, stick to uppercasing just the first letter of nouns such people’s names, place and organization names, book titles and some job titles. Don’t  capitalize the first letter to emphasize a common word. Occasionally bolding a word or putting it in quotes gets the job done with less distraction.

, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Using Skype for Business

The archive of the first Ag Comm Webinar Series webinar is below. It was presented on Jan. 20, 2016 and covers the use of Skype for Business for instant messaging, audio calls and video calls at North Dakota State University.

If you have questions about using Skype for Business, please feel free to contact me.

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

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Windows Mobility Center Simplifies Notebook & Tablet Settings

Windows Mobility CenterIf you use a Windows notebook or tablet (sorry, desktop users), Windows contains a little-known but useful menu known as the Windows Mobility Center. This menu provides the most commonly used notebook settings all in one place for quick changes.

Settings vary depending on your version of Windows but can include display, brightness, power and wireless.

The easiest way to get to Mobility Center is to use the Windows Key + X key combination. This will open a menu in the lower left corner of your monitor. Near the top of this menu, locate and click on Mobility Center.

Jerry Ranum, Desktop Support Specialist; ITS Help Desk, (701) 231-8685

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Marketing Minute: New Year’s Resolutions

Photos in Social MediaIt’s no secret that most people my age are glued to their phones a majority of the day, if not all day. It’s the first thing I reach for in the morning and the last thing I put down at night. My phone is my portal to family, friends, news, music and thousands of photos taken with my phone’s camera.

Recently, though, I’m starting to notice how much time I spend with my device and how exhausting it can be to always know what’s going on in other people’s lives.

My new year’s resolution includes putting my phone down more in my personal life and picking it up more in my professional life.

Why picking it up more in my professional life? Because studies show that including photos, videos, infographics or other media with text increases engagement. What better way to increase views and engagement with our NDSU educational material than to include a photo, even one taken on the fly with our phones?

Some of the reasons why photos are important include:

  • On social media platforms, articles with images get 94 percent more total views.
  • Including a photo or video in a news release increases views by more than 45 percent.
  • Consumers are 60 percent more likely to consider or contact a business when an image shows up in local search results.

By thinking about the visual content of our educational materials, we can increase the likelihood that our audiences will notice it, read it and then connect to it.

The next time you write a news release or get ready to post on Facebook, take a minute to think about how we can show, not just tell, our audiences about our research and education.

, Information Specialist, (701) 231-6136

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Write the Right Word: Everyone, Anyone, Someone, No One

What do “everyone,” “anyone,” “someone” and “no one” have in common? They all require singular verbs even though they may appear to refer to more than one person.

A big clue is the “one.” That tells you they refer to one person. So you would say: “Everyone wants his or her day to go smoothly.” “Anyone who says this sweater is green is colorblind!” “Someone who enjoys swimming as much as you do should live near a lake.” “No one goes to that store anymore.”

Other words or phrases that may look as though they refer to more than one person or thing but take singular verbs include anybody, anything, everybody, everything, nobody, something, many a, either and more than one. For example: “Either is going to stay home tonight.” “Many a child has wished he or she had a horse.”

The word “none” usually fits into this category. It generally means no single one. In that sense, it takes singular verbs and pronouns. “None of these movies appeals to me.”

However, “none” requires a plural verb if you are referring to no two or no amount. “None of the engineers agree on how to fix the problem.” “None of the dues have been paid.”

, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Is Facebook Asking You if Your Page is Inaccurate or Out of Date?

Have you received an email from Facebook asking you to update information on your Facebook Page? These emails are legitimately from Facebook and we’ve seen it twice in the past month. You have the option to change your information to their suggestion, or you can reject it. If you do not reject it, Facebook will automatically make the suggested change by the date it mentions in the email.

In the two emails we received, we rejected both suggestions to change the information.

In the first example, Facebook says the zip code for the NDSU Extension Service Page is inaccurate and they suggest we change it. We did not, as the 58103 zip code doesn’t apply to us.

FB zip.png

In the second one, it says the
Stutsman County Facebook Page category should be changed from “Education” to “College and University”. They decided to keep the Education category.

FB category.jpg

If you do receive an email like this from Facebook, be sure to either make the suggested change or reject it by the date listed because Facebook will make the change if they don’t hear from you.

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

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LEAP to Communication

Kaci BuhlWhen Kaci Buhl, National Pesticide Information Center project coordinator at Oregon State University, spoke at the Extension/REC Fall Conference, she said that risk perception is "not just facts." University faculty and staff tend to think that if people hear the facts, they'll believe the information, she said.

"But risk perception is subjective and personal," Buhl said. "People want to know risk vs. benefit. And risk denial increases with perceived control." She recommends "Risk Perception: It's Personal" from Environmental Health Perspectives.

Buhl said understanding risk perception is critical for effective communication.

"Frustrated scientists, regulators and industrialists think the public makes irrational or ignorant judgments," she said. "The public thinks that risks are underestimated to serve someone else’s purposes, not their own.
"In the world, risk and benefit are positively correlated, but according to social science research, the relationship between risk and benefit in people’s minds is negatively correlated. Risks are less likely to be acceptable if the benefits are hidden from view, or if they are not fairly distributed among those who bear the risks."
Buhl said defining risk is an act of power and that whoever controls the definition of risk is in control.
Buhl recommends this checklist when communicating risk:
  • Listen, ask questions, paraphrase
  • Frame as risk rather than safety
  • Toxicity/Hazard information
  • Exposure information
  • Benefit(s) of the activity
  • Action items in person’s control
  • Where to get more info
To maximize learning, use stories that are tangible, relatable, and emotional. This strategy turns information into a life experience.
Buhl recommends we LEAP over communication barriers:
  • Listen
  • Empathize
  • Apologize
  • Problem solve

Buhl said listening can't be overemphasized when people are concerned about a risk. "People don't care what you know until they know you care."

She believes risk communicators can achieve both accuracy and readability. Say the most important things first and break up the text with headings, white space, visuals, bullets and the like.

Buhl believes these risk communication steps will improve trust with audiences.

See Buhl's entire fall conference Risk Communication PowerPoint.

, Ag Communication Director, (701) 231-7875

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Keyboard Shortcuts Can Make Work More Efficient

You’ve probably used a number of common keyboard commands like Ctrl + C to copy a file or text and Ctrl + V to paste.  But did you know there are literally dozens of other useful keyboard commands that can help you save time when working in Windows or editing documents?

Here are a few common shortcuts:keyboard

Windows Key = Open start menu
Windows Key + L = Lock desktop
Windows Key + E = Open file explorer
Windows Key + P = Set monitor / projector screen setting

Ctrl + A = Select all items in document / window / folder
Ctrl + C  = Copy
Ctrl + X = Cut
Ctrl + V = Paste
Ctrl + Z = Undo last action
Ctrl + mouse wheel up / down = increase / decrease window zoom level

F5 = Refresh Screen

Alt + F4 = Close the current application

Alt + Enter = displays the properties window of the selected item

To learn more, Microsoft has a Keyboard Shortcuts page that provides a much longer list of common keyboard shortcuts as well as some that are tailored for Windows 8 / 10.

Jerry Ranum, Desktop Support Specialist; ITS Help Desk, (701) 231-8685

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