Tag Archives: agricultural communication

Blog 12: Organizational Communication and IMC

As you read chapter 19, did you consider organizations you currently belong to? Think of an organization you currently belong to now. How do you know it is, in fact, an organization and not just a group of people? What agricultural groups can you identify that do not meet the definition of an organization. What makes them groups of people instead of organizations?

Chapter 23 explored integrated marketing communications (IMC), which is a concept/theory that can be applied to multiple organizational communication practices. It is a model that a myriad of  organizations consider as they audit or reorganize their communication efforts. Think back to one of the organizations you identified. Is IMC a good model of communication for this organization to follow in its relationships with its various stakeholders? What benefits are there for the organization to utilize IMC? Are there any possibilities for disadvantages from using IMC?  

 

Blog 11: Technology and Social Change in Agricultural Communications

Technology continues to affect the way we communicate in agriculture. As a result, communication theory helps to explain how technology aids or hinders communication. As you read this week’s chapter, I am sure you reflected on how communication affects your life. How important has the fifth function of the media, that of social interaction, become in your day-to-day use of the media? How can agricultural communicators utilize the fifth function of media?

We have discussed computer-mediated communication (CMC) before, but this chapter brings it to the forefront of the discussion. I am personally interested in how new and social media alter communication in agriculture. I believe there are multiple opportunities for agriculturalists to use CMC to connect with the public in a meaningful way. I am a part of a couple of grant projects that seek to teach agriculturalists to utilize new and social media to market their businesses. One of these projects is Beyond The Farm Gate.

We have seen the Peterson brothers utilize CMC to connect with people across the country and bloggers like Debbie Lyons-Blythe share the experiences of the agricultural community with moms across the county. What other ways have you seen CMC utilized effectively by the agricultural community? Where have you seen room for improvement? What theory from this week’s reading do you see in action in the CMC use in the agricultural industry?

Blog 10: Setting the Agricultural Agenda

I imagine that this week’s readings were of great interest to you, as much of the discussion on the blog has focused on how we can better understand the general public’s perceptions and attitudes toward agriculture. Agenda setting is an interesting theory that applies to so much of what we do in agricultural communications. The three agendas of media, public, and political are areas of deep concern for agricultural communications professionals. Think about the reason you turned on the television or surfed the Internet most recently. What use were you intending when you initially began using the medium? Was it entertainment, information, or perhaps explanation you were seeking? Did the media affect you in obvious ways you were not originally seeking? Can you imagine any subliminal effects you may have experienced without realizing it at the time?  How can we use your answers to these questions and the theories from the chapter this week to address concerns of agricultural literacy in the general public?

One of the common ways the public hears about agriculture is during a food crisis like in the Barr, Irlbeck and Akers article in JAC we read this week. These authors chose framing as the theoretical/conceptual framework for their study. What other theories in this week’s reading would have implications for this study or future studies of food crises?

The Goodwin, Chiarelli, and Irani study also utilized framing. What differences did you see in the way the researchers applied the theory? If you were to conduct a follow-up study based on these authors’ research, what type of study would you conduct? Which theory would you chose to guide the study?

Blog 9: Media Use & Effects in Agricultural Communications

First a little housekeeping: Hopefully you saw my announcement on K-State Online that I ended up manually assigning peer reviews. I have pushed the deadline back to October 30th because of this delay. You can see more details on the In-Depth Theory assignment page. I am sorry for any inconvenience this causes. Update: While grading I noticed some of you were assigned peer reviews, so if you were assigned a peer review and already completed it, you do not have to complete another one. You may still want to review the PDF so you can see all of your peers’ infographics and learn a little more about all of the theories.

Take a minute and think about how you learn about current events affecting agriculture. How do use media in this process? What media do you select? Now, think about another topic that you are completely unfamiliar with. How do you learn about it? What role does media play in your understanding? How are these two processes different for you? How are they the same? What does this tell you about how people unfamiliar with agriculture may learn about it? What did you learn is this week’s readings that could help you improve this process?

Sorry to begin with so many questions, but I think it helps to put us in the right frame of mind when discussing the role of media in agricultural communications. We all know that the number of journalists with a specific ag beat has dropped dramatically. Reporters are now asked to cover multiple topics and likely take the pictures and video associated with the stories and upload it to the web or a blog themselves. Very few members of mainstream media understand agriculture, but I hope you realized from this week’s readings that we cannot make grand claims about the media’s power to corrupt (or save) society. Media is one piece of the entire puzzle. People do not absorb 100% of the content they come in to contact with and personal characteristics play a huge role. The theories discussed in this week’s readings play a large role in our understanding of how people process and seek information. If you were seeking to change a person’s attitude toward the handling of livestock, which theory from this week do you think would help explain the process best? Would you select a different theory if you were trying to change a farmer’s attitude toward adopting new technology?

As you are learning in the peer review process, scholars do not always agree. From disagreement arises some of the world’s best discoveries. As scholars you shouldn’t just accept things the way they are. Ask questions, challenge the norm, and test the theories you find issue with. You may disprove what another scholar has found, or convince yourself that the theory should stand. As you read through chapter 14, was there a place where you questioned the author’s claims or how they were presented? Was your reception the result of negotiated meaning or an outright oppositional decoding situation?   

 

 

Blog 7: Culture in Agriculture

As you may suspect, the importance of intercultural communication is growing in the agricultural community.  We are in a global economy, which isn’t necessarily new, but our awareness of the importance of other cultures has increased in recent years. I like this chapter in your book, as I feel it seeks to explain how we can communicate better with people from culture’s different than our own instead of just explaining how different cultures communicate.

As we continue to discuss on this blog, agriculture has a culture all of its own with strong roots in community and family. I would argue that  agriculture’s culture is closer to collectivist than the rest of the United States (you may need to refer back to figure 10.3 to remember where the Untied States appeared on Hofstede’s dimensions of culture). My argument for agriculture being collectivistic also aligns with face negotiation theory of conflict. I see agriculturalists typically being high context rather than low context. This communication style creates a culture that caters to in-groups, which we have certainly seen in agriculture. As these in-groups have similar experiences and expectations, they often feel certain messages or ideas are implied and not said leading to high context messages. This creation of in-groups is what can lead to poor communication with those outside of the in-group as we discussed with the “feed the world” message. In many cases, I see theories of intercultural communication applying to the communication of agriculturalists with members of the general public. Of course, as your book concedes, there are both ends of the spectrum in all cultures with certain individuals putting more value on the needs of the group than individual needs and vice versa. Sometimes these differences may lead to conflicts like family disputes when passing down the family farm to the next generation.

Think of a time when you interacted with someone from a culture different from your own. What elements of communication accommodation theory (CAT) and/or communicative theory of identity (CTEI) did you utilize to improve communication?  What role did your personal identity play? What do you know now that may have improved your communication?

One subject discussed in your text that can sometimes be uncomfortable is the topic of “whiteness”. One blogger described what he called the “unbearable whiteness of urban farming“. Many of his points apply to other agricultural groups urban or not. I encourage you to read his entire post, but I have pulled his six recommendations for addressing this issues. These are:

1. Go to where people are at, not where you want them to be.
2. Don’t accommodate people to the extent of ignoring your own needs.
3. Don’t operate from assumptions.
4. Always be focused on leadership development.
5. Be aware of how privileges may be effecting group dynamics.
6. CELEBRATE non-white contributions to Food Justice.

How do these points align with theories in this week’s reading?

Blog 6: Persuade Me

I think persuasion is one of the most fascinating topics in agricultural communication theory. While the chapter this week is in the “face-to-face” communication section of the book, many of the concepts apply to mediated communication efforts. The reading from JAC this week illustrates this point well. I think this study does an excellent job of incorporating theory into a study. As you read the JAC article, was your understanding of the elaboration likelihood model (ELM) changed? Did you agree with the authors’ application of ELM? What would you have done differently? Are there other theories of persuasion that you see as more appropriate for this study? Or ones that should have also been included?

The world around us is constantly seeking to persuade us to do something. As you study persuasion you will become more and more aware of persuasive techniques being utilized in your everyday life. This may be a friend or significant other trying to persuade you to go to the lake instead of studying. Perhaps the persuasion is less subtle and comes in the form of advertising. What agricultural ads or videos have you seen recently that utilize persuasive appeals? Post an example and tell us which appeals you think are used in the example you post. What other theories of persuasion do you see represented in your example? In the spirit of the comparison study we read in JAC this week, what anti-agricultural ads or videos have you seen with persuasive appeals? How does the anti-ag one stack up in relation to theories of persuasion?

Blog 4: Classical & Contemporary Rhetorical Theory in Agricultural Communications

I appreciate the insight and discussion all of you are contributing to this blog – keep it up!

Now, on with this week’s readings. The classical theorists are an important foundation for rhetoric today. As you may suspect, rhetoric plays an important role in agricultural communications. The credibility and respect of speakers is an issue dealt with in agricultural communications regularly. This concept of the credibility of a speaker is often referred to as source credibility. If you are interested in more about this theory, here is a link to a thesis about source credibility and agricultural opinion leaders. We will discuss theories of persuasion more in depth later in the semester, but for now I would like to explore some of the basic tenants: logos, ethos, and pathos. In agricultural communications we often see persuasive messages crafted using logos, which certainly has powers of persuasion. When explaining complex scientific topics, logical appeals make sense. However, there are times when logos messages are too complicated and turn off a receiver of the message. The Beef Check-off program has done an excellent job of combining logos and ethos through the use of facts comparing chicken to lean cuts of beef, while milk has effectively used celebrities in advertisements from all different backgrounds and genre which combine ethos with the celebrity connection and logos with the health benefits and nutritional information in the advertisements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An example of a video that seeks to appeal to emotions is this Common Ground video. By showing farmers as moms just like the other moms in the grocery store, ethos is used. The mom farmers also use logos as they discuss their farms. How effective do you think an effort like this is?

What examples have you seen of agricultural communications utilizing logos, ethos, and/or pathos? Which principle do you see agricultural communications utilizing the most? Which standard of theory evaluation or development, discussed in previous chapters, does this speak to?

As we move to contemporary rhetoric, we see the basic premises of classic rhetoric evolve into specific theories. As agricultural communicators seek to engage with the public and alter or change their perceptions, text and discourse are often used as units of analysis. Sometimes the perceptions people have of the agricultural industry are based on images or symbols as seen in the theory of symbolic convergence.  We have all seen the picture of an old man in overalls standing in a golden field of wheat, or a plow and horse. Perhaps these are not symbols of modern agriculture, but symbols none-the-less, and perhaps may even fall into a fantasy theory. Narratives are often built on images, text, and discourse combined. While people may have a fantasy picture of agriculture that is either positive or negative, as agricultural communicators seek to change that narrative it is important to be aware of narrative fidelity. Will it ring true to the receiver? The process of working toward narrative fidelity may be viewed as strategic action. We see the theory of communicative action represented as the public strives for answers to how their food is produced. Communicative orientation indicates it is their right to ask and seek the truth. Agricultural communicators should be prepared to share a narrative strategically, truthfully, and in a way the public is prepared to receive it.

One example of a strategic narrative is Chipolte. Chipotle often divides those in the agricultural community. No matter how you feel about Chipotle, its advertising is persuasive. What theories of rhetoric do you see represented in Chipolte’s ad here? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DY-GgzZKxUQ.

How could conventional agriculture use the same theory(s) to its advantage?

Blog 3: Why Do We Conduct Agricultural Communications Research?

Happy Labor Day. You certainly are not expected to read or comment on this on the holiday. However, I thought I would go ahead and post in case some of you wanted to use your day off to post.

You may have noticed that I did not respond to your posts in week 2. I may pop in and comment to make clarifications in discussions, but I will predominantly let the discussion happen among you from here on out.

Today, I want to talk about why you should care about agricultural communication research. You clearly care at least a little about agricultural communication research and theory or you wouldn’t be in this class.  I know this week’s readings may not have been page turners, but chapters two and three of your text provide some important foundation information for how we will investigate theory in agricultural communication.

As we discuss the importance of agricultural communication research, it is difficult to separate the values we associate with agricultural communication research. It is important for researchers to strive for a lack of biases in their research. A lack of biases make research and theory more valuable. However, as we have discussed agricultural communication is an applied discipline. We conduct research and build theory in order to solve problems in agricultural communication. Based on chapter two of your text and my discussion here, what axiological view does agricultural communication research take? Is this a positive or negative thing?

In agricultural communication, we often seek to address research questions or objectives through an epistemological lens. We try to understand how people know or don’t know about agriculture and its value in our society. We often research methods for exposing people to agricultural knowledge and understanding in explicit and tacit ways. As we try to understand how people respond to agriculture and policy related to agriculture and natural resources, we regularly investigate phenomenons and human decisions related to those. Critical theories seek to change the world, which is something we often try to do in agricultural communication, I believe figure 2.4 in your text describes this process well and will help you understand theories as we discuss them.

The terms in chapter 3 are important for understanding and interpreting research. I don’t intend to repeat all of the terms here, but know they are an important foundation as we continue to explore theory. Let me pose a few more questions for our class discussion. How might someone develop a campaign to improve agriculture’s public image from a scientific/objective paradigm approach? How would this campaign look if designed according to a humanistic/subjective approach?  How would you operationalize the concept of agriculture’s public image in order to conduct a quantitative survey?

Blog 1: Introduction to Agricultural Communication Theory

Thanks for joining me for week one in agricultural communication theory. I don’t want to repeat too much information contained in other places on this website or in the syllabus, so please spend some time on this website this week to find out about the course. I will hit a few highlights. Find your weekly readings here and in your text for the course. For information about how to participate in this blog see the assignments page. View the course syllabus for all other details not included in this blog post. See the welcome page to contact me.

With all of the housekeeping information out of the way, let’s talk about this class. Technology is now more important than ever to agricultural communication, as witnessed by your participation in this course online.  I seek to use new technology to connect with people in my research, personal life, and teaching. My goal for this blog is to make a connection between the general communication theories in your text and agricultural communication while allowing us to discuss the text and additional readings as a class. I want this to be a virtual classroom where we can bring ideas together and learn from each other. In my initial posts I will offer insight into your assigned readings and pose questions to you. I encourage you to bring in your experiences, as we will all have different insight based on our past interactions.

This first week, I would like for us to all introduce ourselves. Share with us your first name, your connection with agriculture and natural resources, why you’re taking this course, and something unique about yourself. I will get us started. I am Dr. Lauri M. Baker. I received my B.S. in agricultural communication from Texas Tech University in May 2003. I then went on to work for the Texas Wheat Producers as their Vice President and Director of Communications for nearly five years. I loved that job and the connections I was able to make with farmers and buyers of wheat. I also enjoyed the opportunity to have interns and share what I knew about agricultural communications. This lead me to graduate school at the University of Florida where I received my M.S. and PhD in agricultural communication. When I started my graduate work, my primary interest was in teaching. However, I quickly started to get excited about research and the understanding it offered related to how people think about and perceive agriculture and the environment. By the time I graduated with my PhD in April 2011 and accepted by first tenure-track faculty position at Kansas State University, I was driven to continually work on research. Primarily, I continue to design research projects to determine how agriculture and natural resources can communicate more strategically with the public and the role new media plays in impacting the bottom line of these industries through the Center I co founded, The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement.  

Let’s discuss chapter one of your text. Chapter one talks about communication as a basis for human interaction and shared culture. Agriculture certainly has an unique culture. This culture can be a blessing and a concern when discussing agricultural communication theory. Often we see agriculturalists “preaching to the choir”. We love to tell ourselves how great we are at producing the world’s food and conserving land for future generations. It is also a part of our culture to keep to each other when we need to share agriculture’s story with the general public. I have also seen this close culture take on a negative connotation. I have seen some involved in agriculture develop an outward superiority assuming everyone outside of agriculture doesn’t have good values or a hard work ethic. Your book describes this occurrence as a perceptual consequence. This social structure is something we will continue to discuss as we look at ways to apply theory to engage the public in conversations about agriculture. Your book talks about the need for strategic communication, which is a term you will continue to hear throughout this course. Communicating strategically is extremely important when dealing with complex, scientific topics like food policy, biotechnology, and precision agriculture.

When your book discusses social reality as a dialectical process, an agricultural example immediately comes to my mind. We have seen the general public become farther and farther removed from production agriculture, primarily due to technological advances in agricultural science. This has been a challenge in the public’s perceived value of those who produce the world’s food supply. In recent years we have seen a shift. The public no longer wants to be completely removed from food production. The public now regularly expresses an interest in visiting farms, purchasing locally grown items, and even growing some food themselves. This concern also extends to the way animals are handled in meat and dairy products. The public’s concern offers new challenges and opportunities for agricultural communicators, which we will continue to explore.

I would imagine many of you have “lay theories” right now related to why people behave the way they do, I encourage you to continue to think about these. Perhaps your lay theory will work into a research question you can examine in order to inductively create theory, or perhaps as we examine existing theory you realize there is already a related communication theory. You may also began to ask more questions as you learn about new theories. You may end up developing a research question in order to deductively add to theory. I encourage you to continue to question and seek answers. Please share your questions and answers with the class. This is how we will all continue to grow together. I encourage you to use pg. 14- 19 of this chapter as you encounter theory in the book and in your assignments. As a scholar, continue to seek validity for theory.

Now, I want to hear from you. As you read chapter one, what connections to agriculture did you notice? It is ok if you do not have an agricultural background. That will make our discussion even more diverse. What terms and/or theories stood out to you as describing agricultural communication? Can you think of a strategic communication effort in agriculture and natural resources? What challenges do you see to strategic communication in agriculture and natural resources? Also, remember to introduce yourself.