September Slow Down

We have gotten to take a much-needed break from the road in September and enjoy the beautiful late summer weather here in mid Missouri. It has been by far the longest stretch of decent weather we’ve had here all year – and the longest stretch of time off the road! It’s been nice to catch up and catch our breath.

Of course, Chuck did spend over a week in Ontario, Canada for the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) annual congress this month, so we weren’t TOTALLY home bound. Check out all of the more than 1,000 photos from the trip here. Thanks to Pioneer for once again sponsoring our coverage of this great event.

As for Cindy – well, I spent a grand total of one day on the road in September – and now feel fully caught up. My one trip was to Minnesota for the official opening of the REG Albert Lea biodiesel plant. We would like to sincerely thank the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council for allowing us to cover this event on their behalf and congratulate all involved for getting this plant back up and running to meet the advanced biofuel needs of the state of Minnesota and the rest of the country under the Renewable Fuels Standard.

Gearing up to get back on the road, both of us will be heading to Madison, Wisconsin the first week of October to cover the World Dairy Expo on World Dairy Diary for sixth year in a row. Thanks to our sponsors Charleston Orwig and several of their dairy clients, including Hoard’s Dairyman, Accelerated Genetics, and Dairy Business Association; as well as Alltech – a first time sponsor for this event for us, but a long time supporter.

Hope to see you all somewhere on down the agriblogging highway!

ZimmComm Photo Facts

Have you ever checked out the massive quantity of photos that ZimmComm New Media has under AgWired photosets on Flickr?

2005 indy 500 paul danaWe have been uploading photos to Flickr since 2005. Our very first set is the 2005 Indy 500, which includes this photo of Chuck interviewing the late Paul Dana, who made it his mission in life to see the Indy Car Series run on ethanol and who was killed in a crash during practice for the Homestead race in 2006, the first Indy race to use 10 percent ethanol. There are 35 photos in the entire set, taken with just a regular point and shoot digital camera – before we went professional – and they have been viewed over 700 times. That’s when Chuck found out that he needed a better camera with a bigger lens to capture Indy in action!

We have a total of nearly 66,000 photos in our photostream, in more than 300 sets. All together, they have been viewed over 2.1 million times! I wish we had the time to go through categorize them all but all of the sets have tags and they are pretty easy to search. We have an open source policy for all of our content and encourage people to utilize any of our photos and audio. It’s nice when we get credit, of course, but not required! Browse through our photos next time you get a chance – you might be surprised at what you find!

ZimmComm Coverage from Coast to Coast in August

August may have been our busiest month ever.

ncba cbb herman cainWe started out the month with cattle producers in the Sunshine State for the 2011 Cattle Industry Summer Conference. The joint meeting of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) in Kissimmee, Florida featured Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain. Click on the photo for a larger version and see the CISC 2011 photo album for more. Posts about the CBB side of the meeting can be found on, where meeting photos, interviews and committee reports going back to 2007 are archived.

rosy riverWe also covered the 2011 Ag HR Roundtable for the first time. The event was held on the campus of Purdue University and brought together representatives from agribusiness and academia to discuss how to recruit and prepare young people for careers in agriculture.

Another stop this month was in Toledo, Ohio for the CTIC Conservation in Action Tour, which featured a full day of visits in the area around Lake Erie. This rosy sunset over the Maumee River greeted us as we returned from the tour. I really love that photo – click on it for a larger version, and check out the CTIC 2011 tour photo album for more.

sturgis 2011The Sturgis Motorcycle rally in South Dakota was definitely a first for us. Chuck covered that for the Renewable Fuels Association, which partners with the Buffalo Chip Campground to promote ethanol. See his photos from Sturgis here. No, he didn’t ride a motorcycle, but he did sleep in a very comfortable RV at the campground – it was an experience!

Without too much of a break, Chuck headed to Kansas City for the NAMA Bootcamp and then to Nashville for the AgChat Agvocacy 2.0 conference.

bivi north carolinaCindy’s next two trips sent her from coast to coast. First to the Boehringer-Ingelheim annual swine health seminar in North Carolina. This is the fourth time we have been able to attend this event and it is always fun because it is so family-oriented. They invite their producer and partner clients and their families for a really nice weekend on the Carolina coast. It was a pirate theme this year and all the kids really enjoyed it!

Five days later, Cindy headed to Seattle at the request of the United Soybean Board to attend the U.S. Soybean Export Council’s first Animal Utilization Stakeholders meeting. The weather was glorious in Seattle and as a weird coincidence, Cindy got to attend the wedding of a very close high school friend who lives in Tacoma.

jd product launchThe month wrapped up with the biggest product launch in the 174 year history of John Deere in Indianapolis. Chuck got lots of great photos and video there. The photos have already been viewed over 2600 times and the three videos collectively have been seen almost 10,000 times! Cindy attended the GROWMARK annual meeting in Chicago, then we both got together and headed to Decatur, Illinois for the 2011 Farm Progress Show. Together we uploaded over 600 photos that have been viewed more than 3,000 times.

All totaled, we traveled over 16,000 miles in August, uploaded nearly 4,000 photos, and did more than 400 posts on all four of our websites. We are definitely looking forward to a break from the road and a little R&R on Labor Day before we get back at it in September!

Burning Up the Agriblogging Highway in July

July has been hot all over the country and we have been where the action is, no matter what the weather!

infoag conference michael scuseWe saw a lot of corn in July, starting with the Conservation Technology Information Center tour of the Indian Creek Watershed in Illinois, where we learned about a farm family that caters to corn connoisseurs, among other things. Check out the photos from that tour here, and watch for coverage from the Conservation In Action Tour, sponsored by CTIC and AGROTAIN, August 9 in northwest Ohio.

The following week, Chuck drove out to York, Nebraska to check out the FMC plot tour in that area, then turned around and drove all the way to Springfield, Illinois for the 2011 InfoAg Conference, where our coverage was sponsored by AgLeader Technology on Precision Pays.

Wyffels Hybrids kept us going from sunrise to sunset on two days in July – one in Illinois and one in Iowa – for their annual Corn Strategies. Cindy went to Dixon, Illinois and Chuck attended the Malcom, Iowa event. Lots of great photos there!

We headed for the deep south at the end of the month. Cindy went to Panama City, Florida to cover the Southern Peanut Growers Conference for the fourth year in a row, while Chuck attended the Ag Media Summit in New Orleans, thanks to the sponsorship of BASF and AgHaven.

August is shaping up to be a hot one as well. Heading to Florida for the Cattle Industry Summer Conference, to Indiana for the AgCareers Ag HR Roundtable, South Dakota for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on behalf of the Renewable Fuels Association, Ohio for CTIC, Nashville for AgChat Agvocacy 2.0 sponsored by New Holland, Indianapolis for the John Deere product launch, Chicago for GROWMARK’s annual meeting and finishing up at Farm Progress show in Illinois.

See you down the road – stay cool!

Racing Through June

June has been racing by here at ZimmComm world headquarters – literally!

We attended two NASCAR races this month and will end the month with the Iowa Corn Indy 250. It’s all about corn farmers and ethanol at these events and even though the home-grown fuel is a little controversial even within the agriculture industry, we are proud supporters. The use of 15% ethanol by NASCAR this year has provided a new venue to get a positive message out to the public, and the Iowa Indy race is now the only Indy competition that uses ethanol that was born and raised in the USA, since Brazil provides fuel for the other races.

Chuck covered the inaugural STP 300 Nationwide Series race at the Chicagoland Speedway for the Illinois Corn Growers while I went to my very first race ever, the inaugural Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway, on behalf of the National Corn Growers and American Ethanol. Together we took about 600 photos and got comments from a number of drivers and owners about the importance of using ethanol to help the country be a little less dependent on foreign oil.

Here’s a few quotes:

Family Farmers/Marquis Energy car driver Kenny Wallace
: “E15 ethanol inside of our race cars is awesome. Ethanol is a high performance fuel, the emissions are clean, it makes horsepower, it’s good!”

Kansas race winner Brad Keselowski: “It’s just an added benefit that (ethanol) comes from America. That’s really cool.”

Team owner Roger Penske:
“The reliability is there, the fuel mileage is there and you can see the performance, so I think it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Team owner Richard Childress: “I’m a farmer myself and I understand the livelihood of farmers and I think it’s great for America what they are doing to help us not to have to depend on as much foreign energy. I hope some day we can run it all on ethanol.”

Watch for our coverage from the Iowa Speedway in Newton on June 25, sponsored by the Iowa Corn Growers.

What is Google Juice?

Google Juice was the theme for our booth at the 2011 National Agri-Marketing Conference to show people how SEO our websites really are. We had Google Juice t-shirts and blinking Google Juice shot glasses among other goodies with the message that “ZimmComm Makes Google Juice.”

I have to give credit for the inspiration to Mike Deering with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Board, since the first time I ever heard the phrase was from him describing why he wanted us to cover an event for them. Then at Commodity Classic Nick Fassler with BASF told me that all the interviews and stories we had done with him on AgWired had made him very “Google-able.”

So I looked up the term “Google Juice” and the best definition I found was: “the mysterious quality that causes pages to come up high in a Google search.” That works for me, because we really don’t know why posts on our websites tend to often show up on top in Google searches, but they do. Pat Morrow with BASF agreed with that. “It’s true! If I Google for Kip Cullers BASF, AgWired is all over the first page,” Pat told us at NAMA. We also rank high in searches for photos, video and news on Google.

Why it works has much to do with how much content we post and the flow of hyperlinks between our sites and others. We don’t do anything special and we don’t pay anything for our websites to rank high on Google searches, but we know that our clients like it.

Another shot of Google Juice, anyone?

Celebrating Seven Years

Did you know that ZimmComm New Media is the same age as Facebook? Unfortunately, we’re not worth tens of billions of dollars – but the good news is that no one is suing us!

The really good news is that we enjoy what we do and we have the best clients in the world! When we started the company seven years ago this month, we never had any idea that it would go in the direction that it did. Facebook had not yet graduated from Harvard. Flickr had just launched and no one knew what it was. YouTube didn’t even start until 2005. Blogging was just starting to break into the mainstream and we ended up hopping on that train and have been just enjoying the ride since then. Our initial goal was really to provide content for media, which was why the Talking News Release service was started, and that is still one of our primary functions. But we just keep evolving along with the tools and technology.

Thanks to the people who helped us get this party started. Looking forward to keeping it going for a long time yet!

Even Busier February

Karl RoveIf January was busy for us, February was ever busier, if that’s possible!

We started out the month in Denver for the Cattle Industry Convention, where we covered the event for both the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. We did have a little trouble getting there, since our blizzard hit on the day we were scheduled to fly out of Kansas City. But, three canceled flights later, we did arrive and only missed the first day. We saw former Senior White House Advisor Karl Rove give the keynote address during the second general session and Larry the Cable Guy at the Cowboy Comedy Club.

Iowa Power Farm ShowWhile we were in Denver, Joanna was covering the Iowa Power Farming Show in Des Moines, thanks to the sponsorship of AgLeader Technology on Precision Pays. This is the second year we have attended that event.

Next stop on the agriblogging highway was Phoenix for the National Biodiesel Conference. This was the sixth year we blogged this event on the Biodiesel Conference blog, which we set up for NBB in 2006. When you go to that blog, you can go back and see all the photos and posts from the last six conferences – which is pretty cool. Of course, we also covered the event on Agwired and Domestic Fuel, and took lots of photos.

Chuck moved right from Phoenix to Louisville for the National Farm Machinery Show, with the sponsorship of both John Deere and New Holland for the fourth year in a row, and AgLeader for the second year. The weather was better this year in Louisville than it has been the past two years, so that was a plus and it resulted in record attendance for the show.

Not done yet. Next stop was Phoenix, again, for the National Ethanol Conference. This was the fifth year for this event, which is the annual meeting of the Renewable Fuels Association. The weather there was pretty un-desertlike on the first day, with rain and 40 degree temps, but it cleared up and was very pleasant for the rest of the event. We were treated to a spectacular desert sunset during the reception on the second night.

From Phoenix, we came back to Missouri and split up to attend the Agricultural Relations Council meeting in Ft. Myers and the Western Farm Show in Kansas City. Chuck got the bad end of that deal with a nasty ice and snow storm that came up out of nowhere to make for a treacherous drive to KC. But he made it there and Chuck did two social media seminars there plus we had a booth with some giveaways. Meanwhile, the weather was fabulous in Florida and the ARC meeting was a blast.

Speaking of Florida, we are starting out March with Commodity Classic in Tampa, which is where we are heading tomorrow. Hope to see you down the road in our travels!

ZimmComm Wins Golden ARC for Corn Commentary

ag relations councilWinners of the Agricultural Relations Council (ARC) 2011 Golden ARC Awards Contest were announced at the association’s annual awards banquet in Ft. Myers on Friday night. A total of 24 Golden ARC winners and 19 Merit winners were recognized as the elite in agricultural public relations. The number of entries this year was twice what it was last year!

In the category of Blogs/Electronic Newsletters category, the winner of the coveted Golden ARC was the National Corn Growers Association and ZimmComm New Media for the organization’s Corn Commentary blog, which we designed several years ago for them and recently updated. The photo shows me receiving the award from Mace Thornton of the American Farm Bureau Federation, who is the new president of ARC.

The competition was judged by members of the North Florida chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, according to contest manager Amy Keith McDonald of McDonald Marketing Communications. “The judges focused on a number of objectives including audience analysis, creativity, execution and campaign results,” she said. “They then provided constructive feedback to allow entrants to grow professionally from the opportunity.” Originated in 1990, the Golden ARC Awards Contest recognizes the best and brightest in agricultural public relations, and is open to both ARC and non-ARC members. The 38 categories reflect the broad scope of contemporary public relations activities.

Find out all the winners in all the categories here.

Really enjoyed attending the ARC meeting – you can get a taste for the highlights here.

We’ve Got Demographics!

Thanks to a three month survey asking readers of all the ZimmComm publications who they are and what they do, we now have some good data to share with those folks who wonder about that stuff.

Let’s look at Agwired first.

According to the survey, the largest percentage of our 14,000 visitors each month are in Advertising/Marketing/Sales or Communications/Public Relations – making up 20% in each category for a total of 4 out of 10 of our readers. Another 13% are with agribusiness associations or organizations and 7% are media. Over 20% are in crop or livestock production – including crop and livestock producers, dairy farmers, crop consultants, etc. There were some categories that applied to production agriculture but several also checked the “other” category.

We had responses from 21 states, three countries, and the District of Columbia, with the Midwest significantly leading the pack. Most responses came from Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

On Domestic Fuel, we now are getting 30,000 unique visitors a month. The survey says that the largest percentage of those visitors (13%) are existing biofuels producers. The next largest categories were Advertising/Marketing/Sales (9%), Consulting (8%), Engineering (7%), Consumer/General Public (7%), and Association/Organization (6%).

We had responses from 38 states the District of Columbia and Canada. Most responses came from California, South Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota, and Iowa.

Nearly 12,000 visitors go to World Dairy Diary each month for news about the dairy industry. According to the survey, the largest percentage are dairy farmers or milk producers – about 14%. Another 11% are nutritionists in the dairy business and about 7% are consultants. Over ten percent of respondents said they were with dairy organizations, media, or in public relations for agribusiness. About two in ten of our visitors are consumers, students, homemakers or retirees – falling into the “other” category. We also have a good number of beef cattle producers, farmers, and input dealers in the other category.

We had responses from 33 different states and three other countries besides the United States. The states with the most responses are among the largest dairy producing states – Wisconsin, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky, and Michigan.

Finally, visits to our precision agriculture publication Precision Pays are up to 5,000 per month. The survey found that 22% of them are actual crop farmers of mainly corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton. The next largest category was Equipment & Services at 18%, followed by education at 15%. Another 11% each fell in the categories of Crop Consultant or Advertising/Marketing/Sales.

We had responses from 15 states and Canada. Most responses came from Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Missouri, North Dakota, California and Oregon.

Hope that answers some of the “Who reads your stuff?” questions!