Monday, January 31, 2005

First Audio

As soon as our new blog design is complete and new website/server up and running we'll begin true podcasting. In the meantime I'll be posting links here to audio files you can listen to, especially this week at the Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show.

Here's the first one. ZimmBlog Podcast

You should be able to click on that link and your media player will open automatically, download the mp3 file and play it for you. Let me know if you have problems. If you don't have a media player I recommend Windows Media Player.

Looking forward to blogging you from San Antonio!

Posted by: Chuck at 9:42 PM | |     | Permalink

Posting From a PDA

This post is coming from my Dell Axim PDA w\wireless card. Shows how you can update from almost anywhere, anytime!

Posted by: Chuck at 8:15 AM | |     | Permalink

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Are Press Releases A PR Strategy?

I think they can be a very important part of a communications plan or we wouldn't have a business that focuses on the production and distribution of press releases. I like to refer to them as news releases since reporters are looking for news. They're not looking for an opportunity to provide free publicity to some company or organization (usually).

Here's an interesting post that I thought you might want to read and contemplate. I will admit to not having read the book, which is the subject of the post. But it does contain some excerpts and in particular I agree with one phrase about genuinely helping the reporter do their job. That's why we strongly encourage sending audio to radio reporters. That helps them and makes your release more likely to be "used." So here's that post. I'd be interested in your thoughts, especially if you've read the whole book.

Saturday, January 29

Press Releases Are Not a PR Strategy

* A new book from PR expert Linda VandeVrede takes a fresh look at our misunderstood discipline. The title of her book: Press Releases Are Not a PR Strategy. Some selling points of her public relations analysis:

"If you think your company's lack of success in gaining "ink" in your favored publications is due to a dearth of news releases or a lack of hard-hitting messages that resonate with your customers, you may want to think again."

High on the book's myth list is the venerable press release. "In our digital world of minute-by-minute news updates and rampant information overload, press releases can be the least effective way to get your message across to your target audience," says VandeVrede.

Who is the target audience for PR? Not the purchaser or end user of your products and services, as most companies believe. Instead, VandeVrede's book maintains that, the editors and analysts responsible for writing about your company and its products can be your biggest obstacles or your strongest allies in getting your message across -- and genuinely helping them to do their jobs can pay big benefits.

"One of the best lessons in this book is that the editor is your boss," says Lisa Vaas, associate editor, "Not the product, nor the company. The best thing that a PR rep can do for me is enable me to deliver something honest and timely to my readers."

posted by PR Machine at 1/29/2005

Posted by: Chuck at 3:33 PM | |     | Permalink

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Busy Week For Talking News Releases Coming Up

Things are heating up here at the office. We've got projects going on this coming week for United Soybean Board, National Biodiesel, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Missouri Beef Industry Council and of course Southeast AgNet.

Plus I'll be travelling to the 2005 Cattle Industry Convention on Wednesday and hopefully blogging my way through it, going and coming. Look for audio, pictures, thoughts, news and just about anything I come up with.

There's a big trade show there and I plan to talk to as many communications people as I can to find out how enlightened they are about the blogging and Talking News Releases.

Check back often or better yet subscribe to our blog and be notified of new posts automatically.

Posted by: Chuck at 3:20 PM | |     | Permalink

Can A Blog Replace a Website?

That's basically the question I was asked yesterday during a presentation to the executive staff of a division of a major ag company. They appear to be very frustrated getting information on their traditional website in a timely manner since it has to go through the "technical" folks who are always very "busy."

I told them that although the answer is yes, since a blog is a website, they might want to consider a marriage of the two styles. They could for example make their blog the home page and have links to pages of static information that's necessary, like contacts, products, ordering. The blog itself could be their constantly updated place to put the information they're frustrated about.

They have researchers and field staff who have projects, thoughts and opinions that they want customers to know about. By setting the blog up properly they could actually all post to it. I think 4 of the 6 people attending had Blackberry's. I told them they could actually email their post to their website from their little pda/phone and that got them even more interested!

They might even consider a blog of blogs. Meaning a blog page that links to blogs on separate topics like those of each division.

They were worried about letting just anyone post comments because of the fear of negative comments. However, as their communications director pointed out, they want honest feedback and if someone posts a "stupid" negative comment others will see it for what it is.

I cautioned them against restricting people from commenting since it seems like they might then run the danger of being seen as only an updated "commercial."

All of this started from a discussion of the traditional news release and taking them a step further by turning them into Talking News Releases. With the audio we produce they could then post full interviews on different subjects on their website or blog. That's when they asked "What's a blog?" And then we were really off to the races.

We even got into podcasting for those of you who are really enlightened. I'll be writing more about this new form of audio distribution soon so stay tuned.

Posted by: Chuck at 3:02 PM | |     | Permalink

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Reaching Consumers With TNR's

We like to talk about beef around ZimmComm. That's because one of our regular clients is the Missouri Beef Industry Council. Of course you can see a picture of Steve, the Executive Director in a previous post.

Besides doing producer communications we also produce TNR's (Talking News Releases) targeted to the general public promoting beef.

You can link to our latest release promoting the National Beef Check-off and see how we regionalize it for Missouri distribution. This can easily be done for any area of the country.

I think I'll go have a hamburger now!

Posted by: Chuck at 9:29 PM | |     | Permalink

More Good Info On Blogging For Business - Perhaps Agribusiness?

I was just forwarded a link to this article on More good information and links to resources. It may seem overwhelming at first glance if you've never been involved in blogging but it becomes easier as you realize how the technology allows you to communicate information in a fast, personal way.

I spoke with an overworked agricultural organization communications director this morning. When I asked him about creating a blog and featuring a link to it on their webpage his response was "I'm loathe to create a monster I can't feed."

I understand. That's why you need ZimmComm. I said, "Just email me information you would want to post if you had time. I'll do it for you." In fact, everyone on his staff could just send us their ideas and we'll do the posting for them. With 3 or 4 people sending little notes and ideas I've no doubt we could generate frequent content!

Of course, I would want to make sure the blog clearly states that ZimmComm's providing a "posting" service and the individual posts would be attributed to the person who submitted it. Anything wrong with that?

What do you think?

Posted by: Chuck at 1:53 PM | |     | Permalink

Great Info On Blogging & PR

There's a growing amount of information available on blogging and the impact this is having on public relations. For example the first ever Blog Business Summit just concluded in Seattle. I almost went but business is good (busy) and I can read all about it through several blogs like Tom Peter's.

Another resource of information is Global PR Week.

Here's the heading on the site:

"Looking forward to 2.0

The first edition of the Global PR Blog Week 1.0 is now over. During one week, 35 practioners published more than 60 articles and interviews on the impact of personal publishing on Public Relations. Enjoy the reading - and stay tuned for version 2.0."

You may want to browse on over and click around!

What does this have to do with agricultural communications? Everything! Farmers are like the general public in their internet habits and with USDA providing so much financing in the last couple years for the development of rural broadband access, you're going to see some amazing things happen in the ag communications world. If you need some help figuring it all out please give me a call. I'd be happy to consult on your blogging project!

Posted by: Chuck at 10:35 AM | |     | Permalink

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Helping Farmers Understand ARMS

The Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service is using ZimmComm to send a series of 5 Talking News Releases to reporters around Missouri as part of their efforts to inform producers about the current ARMS (Agricultural Resource Management Survey) Survey that's being conducted through the end of March. Here you can see me interviewing Gene Danekas, Missouri Director of Statistics, for audio we'll include with the next release scheduled for distribution on February 7. Gene just recently presented this strategy to a group of visiting agricultural statisticians who were in Kansas City. Posted by Hello

Posted by: Chuck at 4:51 PM | |     | Permalink

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Interesting Lunch Questions

At lunch today the discussion centered around blogging of course and how this might become useful in the agricultural communications world since there isn't much of it yet.

I'm going to write about a couple of the questions that were raised since I think they are of widespread interest. For example, it's going to be somewhat challenging but I'm going to have to address the NAFB (National Association of Farm Broadcasters). I've been a member since about 1985 and still am but they're facing some challenges. This should make for some interesting posts and I hope comments!

First, however, I'd like to challenge communications professionals to think about distributing information in a very new way. Blog it! Especially as it relates to you member organizations who hold big conventions and trade shows.

I'll be attending the 2005 Cattle Industry Convention in San Antonio and plan to provide plenty of posts going and coming. Especially since I just got my Dell AXIM pda a great little wireless lan card that I tested out tonight. I'll be looking for those wi-fi hotspots!

Posted by: Chuck at 10:54 PM | |     | Permalink

Example of a Talking News Release

This is an example of a TNR we just distributed. You’ll notice that it contains a link to a fully-produced story that’s already voiced for the reporter to include in his/her newscast. They can also edit out the sound bites if they want.

Another format we regularly produce is a release with files links for sound bites only. This way the reporter writes their own story and has sound bites to insert into their newscast.

Contact me for other examples:

Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service
601 Business Loop 70 West
Columbia, MO 65203

Contact: Gene Danekas, Director of Statistics

ARMS Survey To Benefit
All Missourians

This is the second in a series of 5 reports which will be distributed every two weeks during the term of this survey.

Click Here For Audio Report: MO NASS ARMS Report 2 (1:27)

The linked audio will automatically download when you click on it. It contains a fully produced story to use in your programming or you may choose to voice yourself and edit out the sound bites. Please contact ZimmComm at if you have any problems.

Columbia, MO, January 24, 2005: The Missouri Agricultural Statistics Service recently sent an important survey to some 1100 farmers and ranchers in the state. Cindy Zimmerman reports.

When the surveys are returned they will help to reveal a picture of the economic health of the state’s ag industry and provide important data on production practices and resource use. American Farm Bureau chief economist Bob Young, former co-director for the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute, says the Agricultural Resource Management Survey provides vital information on many levels.

“I’ve looked at this from the legislative side, the trade association side, the academic side and I couldn’t have done my job in any of those positions without this information in hand.”

The ARMS data is used for a wide variety of purposes, such as determining farm program loans and government payments, monitoring the benefits of farm bill programs, and evaluating economic challenges facing farmers and ranchers. Missouri Farm Bureau Federation president Charlie Kruse says the data also benefits farmers and ranchers on the state level.

“We use this information to make points about the importance of agriculture to Missouri, about the diversity of agriculture in our state, and also in our dealings with policy makers, whether they are legislators in the state capitol or members of our state congressional delegation, it’s so important to have the right information.”

Missouri agricultural producers who are chosen to participate in the survey are strongly urged to complete and return their forms as soon as possible.


This Talking News Release is being distributed by ZimmComm, . Please provide to the appropriate reporter or editor at your organization or to others who will be interested in the content. If you do not wish to receive future Talking News Releases, please contact Chuck Zimmerman at or by telephone at 573-896-5842 or mail at 1600 Skyview Dr., Holts Summit, MO 65043. Talking News Releases are produced and distributed by ZimmComm, a private marketing and communications company. Please feel free to submit your ideas or suggestions for how we may improve our service. Thanks!

Posted by: Chuck at 3:22 PM | |     | Permalink

2fer Offer

I know this is commercial but we are in business for a reason you know and we promise to post meaningful information so you'll want to visit often to see and hear what we have to say. We'll begin posting audio soon by the way.

So, for our wonderful current clients and all of you out there who have been contemplating it, here's the deal.

Place an order for Talking News Releases on or before February 28, 2005 and we'll give you two for the price of one. You can distribute the releases anytime prior to the end of the year but we need your order. If you want us to do more than two (we hope you do!) the additional releases will be regular rate but qualify for a quantity discount. Make sense?

Just email me at or call 573-896-5842.

And just so you also get some useful information while you're here. You might read this interesting post about sending releases to reporters and finding out if they've "used" it.

Hope you're having a great day!

Posted by: Chuck at 9:39 AM | |     | Permalink

Monday, January 24, 2005

Talking News Releases Go Mobile

In the coming months we’ll need to be on the road to places like the Cattle Industry Convention, Commodity Classic or NRECA Convention. We’ll still bring you news and information from the world of Talking News Releases since we can post by email or even mobile phone! In fact, this post is a first by email.

Look in your inbox for a special offer coming out this week from ZimmComm!

Posted by: Chuck at 7:55 AM | |     | Permalink

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

MBIC Turns TNR's Into Weekly Radio Programs!

Talking News Releases (TNR's) can take lots of different forms. The Missouri Beef Industry Council has us distribute a weekly TNR to Missouri radio reporters. Instead of a news release with sound bites we produce a fully self-contained interview called "The MBIC Report." In this picture Chuck is interviewing Steve Taylor, Executive Director of the Missouri Beef Industry Council, about the upcoming Cattle Industry Annual Convention & Trade Show in San Antonio, TX. An emailed description of the interview is sent, along with an embedded link to the audio file that is streamed on our website that can air "live" or reporters can edit out the sound bites they want. This helps the MBIC communicate how it's using cattlemen's investment in the Beef Checkoff and provides the reporters with immediate audio they can use to make their reports sound better. Everyone wins! Posted by Hello

Posted by: Chuck at 11:26 AM | |     | Permalink

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Why Should You Blog?

We're amazed by the number of PR people who aren't familiar with blogging, especially when it comes to agribusiness. It's also amazing that ag-related blogs are kind of hard to find. This will change and now's the time to get a jump start on using this great form of communication.

Here's a piece of a series of articles on why you should consider a blog for your business or client that was posted on Bob Cargill's blog. He works for Yellowfin Direct Marketing. You can find the posts at

Why Advertising, Marketing and PR Pros Should Blog (Part One)

Most advertising, marketing and public relations professionals know a blog when they see one, but when it comes to actually using this relatively new, self-publishing platform, there are still many skeptics and naysayers among us. This time next year, however, those people will likely have come to their senses. In 2005, I dare say you would have to be either misinformed or just plain obstinate to not at least consider adding a blog to your business plan. Here are ten reasons why:

Happy blogging!

Posted by: Chuck at 1:53 PM | |     | Permalink

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Site Feed Available

Now you can keep up with the latest posts on Talking News! If you have a news reader program you should be able to subscribe to our site feed. At the top of the page you'll see a link to our feed. Just subscribe and then you'll get a short piece of each new post, along with a link to it on the blog. It's simple. And since it's not email you don't have to worry about things like spam or unwanted emails showing up in your inbox!

If you don't have a news reader program go to this link to learn more: News Readers

Many of them are free and very easy to use.

Let us know what you think and we hope we can be of service.

Posted by: Chuck at 2:03 PM | |     | Permalink

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Does Anyone Use My News Releases?

This is the question everyone would like to know the answer to. If it were only easy!

Radio is such an immediate medium and reporters have multiple daily deadlines that it's very difficult to obtain direct feedback on the use of releases sent to them. We've tried emailed survey forms with little result. As reporters ourselves we know how difficult it is to provide good feedback. Often a story may be used multiple times or held for future use.

There's no cost-effective "clipping service" for radio. You can pay a lot of money to have a particular station monitored but what if your release is being sent to thousands of radio reporters?

ZimmComm is in the process of installing a new distribution software/email system which will in the future allow us to provide you with more feedback on who opens your emailed releases and downloads the audio files. With that information we'll also be able to do more direct follow up with the reporters we send to on your behalf! We estimate about 2 months before the new system is in place.

In the meantime we continue to send releases for very happy clients who obtain sufficient anecdotal feedback on release usage that they believe in the value of this added method of getting PR value for the releases they produce!

So far this week we've sent releases to over 1,500 reporters in 31 states for several clients!

We're exploring the idea of offering you RSS feeds of your releases. More to come on this new and very logical way of getting even more mileage from your release.

Posted by: Chuck at 10:26 AM | |     | Permalink

Monday, January 03, 2005

Value-added with Spring Radio

VALUE-ADDED - adj : being or pertaining to something added to a product to increase its value or price; "software supplied by a value-added distributor"; "a value-added tax."

So how does this apply to radio?

As you do your spring planning, think about including Talking News Releases in your media mix for added value!

Most companies and agencies are looking for added value when it comes to buying radio these days. Often that comes in the form of feature programming and news stories for the client on the station or network. Talking News Releases are the way to provide a consistent message to all your target markets, without tying up the time of one or more spokespeople doing interviews with a number of different broadcasters.

We'll do the interviews with your spokespeople, then provide the stations and networks in your buy with complete stories, sound bites with copy, and/or long form interviews. The audio can also be regionalized for different audiences with different messages.

Posted by: Chuck at 1:56 PM | |     | Permalink

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