Are you comfortable? Are you in a place that’s familiar to
you, known to you, where you know everybody or most everybody and they know you,
where you don’t feel like you have to explain yourself or what you do, nobody
questions you, nobody challenges you and you know how things go and how they
Great. Now get out.
As you read this, I have – hopefully — embarked on a trip of
a lifetime for me. I’ve always wanted to see Cuba.
Yes, Cuba, the Communist island nation 89 miles south of Key
West, Fla. That one.
I don’t want to wait until things may change and open up and
the U.S. resort industry rolls in. I want to see the 1950s- and 1960s-era autos,
preserved and still being used for transportation.
I want to see the architecture and meet the people. I want
to see Cuba.
It’s about as far outside a travel comfort zone as you can
get, excluding travel to extreme climate sites such as Mount Everest or any of
the world’s deserts or either of the Earth’s poles.
It’s not the climate that will present the big question
mark, but the entire change of government and culture.
We will have no cell phone reception. We’ve been told that
cell phones will be useful only as cameras once we land in Havana. Internet time
is purchased by the minute and is, we’ve been told, fairly expensive, as well as
U.S. ATM and debit cards won’t work there, so we have to
take all the cash we’ll need for the trip with us, doing some estimating and
hoping we’re right. We’ve been instructed to take plenty of anything we think
we’ll need, from aspirin to tissues, since it’s not as if we can run down to the
corner convenience store and purchase what we need when we get there.
I’ve been giving myself possibly an ulcer worrying and
trying to anticipate what to pack and what I’ll need for the trip. As for the
trip itself, I’m excited. It will be different, no doubt, but I welcome that,
whatever it brings.
A few weeks ago, the Chipotle restaurant chain aired an
advertisement that drew a lot of criticism from people within agriculture and a
lot of attention to the ad from those outside agriculture.
As expected, the usual ag suspects blogged angrily about the
ad misrepresenting farmers and agriculture. But to whom were they blogging? Most
of those who posted and reposted the blogs were people within agriculture who
were mad about the Chipotle ad, too.
Who do you reach? When you talk about farms and farming, who
are you talking to?
I’m proud of the fact that at AgriNews, because we cover a
variety of topics and subjects, we have a fairly varied audience. We’re not just
“preaching to the choir.”
We have a healthy readership in the urban and metro areas
throughout the Midwest. People in Chicago and Indianapolis and Des Moines read
our stories, whether in print or online.
We also interact with non-ag people via social media and in
social media on a personal level. Many of the people I’m on social media with
have no connection to agriculture at all.
I’ve made those connections in a variety of ways, through
talking about politics, through support of our U.S. military and military
veterans, through talking about American and European history, talking about
gardening and yard work, talking about the purchase of my new house and through
just talking with other folks about current events.
Well, good for you, you say, so what?
Here’s the deal about the Chipotle ad — that ad reached far,
far, far more people outside of agriculture than inside of agriculture. So did
Stonyfield’s #fightpesticides campaign.
I’ve seen a lot of ag folks make connections outside of
agriculture. Sports and being fans — or foes — of various sports teams seems to
be a big unifier on social media.
We have to make a choice to step out of our comfort zones
and look for people, especially on Twitter, since it’s a bigger audience and
much easier to join in different conversations, who are not connected to
Look for the folks who share interests outside agriculture
such as sports or hobbies. Even just expressing interest in a particular topic
is enough to cultivate online relationships on social media.
Cultivate those relationships. Let what we do in agriculture
be a side note, not the main topic. Be interested in what they do and what they
have to say and chances are that they’ll return that interest.
If we never express interest in anything but agriculture,
how will we ever reach an audience that is interested in everything but
Will ag ever reach the sheer numbers of people that Chipotle
or its ad reached? Probably not.
But it doesn’t hurt to step out of our comfort zones and