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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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Images: Do’s and Don’ts

white bkgdEver have problems with images in printed documents or on Web pages? That pesky white box around your logo when you have a color background? Read through these do’s and don’ts and start using images to their full potential.

Shooting and Editing Photos

  • Use the highest resolution setting on your camera
  • Always keep an original before editing the photo

Email Attachments

  • Always save attachments – DO NOT copy and paste
  • DO NOT double click or open an attachment to download the image to your computer

Using Files

  • DO NOT copy and paste photos or images from one program to another
  • Use “Insert,” “Import” or “Place” when adding photos and images

What format should I use or ask for?

  • Microsoft programs (PowerPoint, Word) use JPG for photos and WMF for logos and graphics
  • Web programs use JPG for photos and GIF, SVG or PNG for logos
  • Commercial printers use JPG or TIF for photos and EPS, PDF and AIG for logos and graphics

More Information

  • EPS and AI files will not be able to open on most computers.
  • Every time a JPG photo is saved, it will loose quality.
  • Vector images like a WMF can be inserted into programs like PowerPoint and will not have a white box background.
  • Try not to increase the size of a photo once you have inserted it into a program like Word.

, Graphic Designer, (701) 231-8620

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Write the Right Word: Toward or Towards?

Most grammarians agree that words indicating direction such as toward, forward, backward, northward and outward can be spelled with or without the “s” at the end.

However, that generalization comes with a couple of cautions: One, towards, etc., is the preferred spelling in British and Australian English, while spelling these words without the “s” is preferred in American English.

The second note of caution is that Associated Press Stylebook says the correct spelling is without the “s.” Ag Comm follows the AP style guide. That means we look forward to working toward removing the “s” from words such as northward and outward so our writing does not appear to take a step backward.

, Information Specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Insert a Qualtrics Form in Your Website

There are several ways to distribute your Qualtrics form:

  • email
  • posting the form directing to social media
  • adding a link to the survey on your website
  • embedding (inserting) your form directing into your website vs. just having a link


1. Copy and paste your survey link into this html code:
<iframe src="Paste Survey Link Here" width="800px" height="450px"></iframe>

2. In Ag CMS, put your cursor where you want the survey to be embedded at and then click the “html” icon to insert the code into your Web page.


3. Paste in the code and then click “Update” and then “Save”.

4. If the form size needs to be adjusted, go back into the html and adjust for 800 pixels (px) wide by 450 px high (from code in Step 1).

Here’s an example of an embedded Qualtrics form on an Ag CMS site

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

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Spotting Fake or Phishing Email

If you ever receive an email message from someone, even an address you recognize, and something just doesn't seem right, you might be on to something. Fake email is getting more difficult to spot as the programs that send them improve.In the past, you could count on the obvious red flags: unknown or unrecognized sender, poor spelling/grammar, no subject, etc. Unfortunately, fake email has gotten to the point where it can appear to be from someone you know.

So how do we spot fake email?

Watch for generic emails asking you to visit a website that requires your login and password or those that contain an attachment that you were not expecting. In many cases, you also can see if the sender addresses you by name in the email message. If it's a generic message without your name, that could be a big indicator it was not sent by the person you know. If it's from someone you know well, many times you can tell if the message was authored by that person just by the way it is written.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to determine if an email is fake simply by looking at it. However, if you do get an email with a file you weren't expecting or a link you aren't sure about, trust your instincts. If something doesn't seem right, err on the side of caution and contact the sender to confirm the message is legitimate before clicking a link or opening a file.

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

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Marketing Minute: Smartphone Seniors

Smartphone Use by AgeEvery morning my 60-year-old father gets up at 5 a.m. Throughout my childhood, I would wake to the sounds of the morning ag show on television. Tidbits about the fat cattle market and the grain trade would filter under my bedroom door, but now the house is practically silent. A faint glow illuminates my parents' living room and a few tap, tap, taps can be heard.

My father has entered the world of smartphones. His big, callused fingers somehow navigate apps like Facebook, CropLife, The Weather Channel and the American Angus Association mobile site. He checks wheat prices, studies the 10-day forecast and scrolls through his Facebook newsfeed before the sun comes up. When I visit home these days, I have to laugh when I see how attached he is to his phone.

Most of us associate the Internet, social media and smartphone use with a younger generation. And while studies show us that the majority of smartphone users are those in the 18- to 34-year-old category, seniors quickly are catching up.

According to ComScore, a leading mobile analytics company, as of March 2015, 49 percent of those 65 and older are using smartphones, an increase of 12 percent from March 2014. For individuals in the 55- to 64-year-old category, the numbers are even more impressive with 64 percent of that age group using smartphones.

Now let’s talk farming. The average age of U.S. farmers is 58 years old. While the average age of farmers is steadily climbing, so is the percentage of smartphone users in that same age category.

Our customers are searching for NDSU’s research and educational resources, information and events online and on their mobile devices. They are Googling phrases like, “how to test for soybean cyst nematodes” or “best ration for weaned calves.”

We need to make sure our information is accessible to those searching for it. Publishing research on our Web pages, sharing information on our social media sites and sending out an email newsletter (like the one you’re reading now) are all ways to connect and engage with our customers digitally.

Not only are the younger generations on their phones looking for information, but so are older generations. Let’s make sure we are providing the research and education they are seeking.

, Information Specialist, (701) 231-6136

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