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SERVED UP DAILY
NFBS PLEASES VARIED INDUSTRY GROUPS WITH TIMELY NEWS SERVICE
The National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) offers many services to its voting and associate members, but one tried-and-true resource used by both broadcasters and communications professionals is the National Farm Broadcast Service (NFBS). NFBS is a Web-based news service found at www.nfbslive.com, providing an outlet for agriculture messages and topics as well as a source of relevant, timely audio news for broadcasters across the United States.

The stories found on NFBS come from several different sources: news partners who pay to have their information distributed on the site; NAFB members who swap news; and original work from Peter Shinn, NFBS news manager. "A good way to think of NFBS is as a combination of AP and PR Newswire for rural America," Shinn says.

Peter Shinn, NFBS news manager, works to provide value through NFBS for both broadcasters and company partners.
According to Shinn, the service acts as a supplement to NAFB members' own newsgathering activities. "My goal is to cover 100 percent of the truly critical national agriculture news, such as significant market fluctuations and major USDA reports, BSE or other big announcements from Secretary of Agriculture Veneman or other ag officials," Shinn explains. "My real mission is to add value to NFBS. The more valuable NFBS is to farm broadcasters, the more valuable NFBS is to partner companies that want to reach farm broadcasters, and that's a win-win for everyone."

GET THE MESSAGE OUT

For agriculture marketers, NFBS is a great way to reach numerous farm broadcasters with a controlled message from a company or client. Greg Lammert, senior account executive for Osborn & Barr Communications, St. Louis, says that he distributes audio news releases on behalf of one of his clients, which includes a suggested script and audio sound bites. "The broadcaster is able to use the news verbatim or revise it to fit into any area of their programming.

"With NFBS, we can specifically target farm broadcasters," Lammert says. "We consider it to be a very affordable tool that clients can use to get specific messages out to the farm broadcasters; they are so respected within the producer community that the information they provide is unparalleled."

For companies such as John Deere, NFBS is a great tool to generate a buzz around special events. "Where we see the benefit of the service is surrounding special events such as farm shows, conventions and special grower events. Typically, an NAFB broadcaster will come onsite to do an interview, for example on a new combine, then post news for other broadcasters to use," says Barry Nelson, manager of public relations for the John Deere Ag Marketing Center, Lenexa, Kan.

Lammert explains another benefit of the service is its quick distribution of news and events. "If there is a hot button issue, using NFBS is an opportunity to get that message out quickly and affordably to a wide audience, which includes ag consumers. Marketers may not always have time to do one-on-one interviews with broadcasters. In this situation, NFBS is an ideal service for crisis communication efforts."

Others in agriculture just need to stay on top of those "hot button" issues in the industry and have found NFBS to be quite useful. Kara Flynn with the National Pork Producers Council has made NFBS a part of her daily news gathering practice. "We check news clips electronically every morning and send them to staff and Council members each morning on pertinent pork industry topics," Flynn says. "I particularly am interested in international trade, animal health, country-of-origin labeling, USDA announcements, pork industry news and hog prices."

Similarly, Keith Williams, communications director for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, checks the audio news to keep abreast of issues affecting rural America. Williams, a former rural broadcaster in Conroe, Texas, says he likes to use NFBS because it provides an angle that he can't get in mainstream media outlets.

"At the NFBS site, I not only see and hear a concise idea of what's of interest that day, but I also get to look at what the rural broadcasters throughout the U.S. are seeing in their newsrooms," Williams says.

He also is on the lookout for information that members of the Senate Ag Committee, both democrat and republican, may get questions about from constituents. "I try to forward information to appropriate senators and staffers saying, 'You could get calls on this issue.'

"NFBS is a resource not only for me to know what is going on but also to let the staff and committee know new angles or interest points. They want to make sure they have an understanding from individual states but also the national take from a rural standpoint," Williams says. "That is where the farm broadcasters and other sources help. Broadcasters offer an expansive view of the different facets to a national story that will not be seen in general news coverage."

BETTERING FARM BROADCAST

This national breadth is also a major benefit to farm broadcasters. According to Shinn, NFBS provides broadcast members a way to have more detailed coverage of national agricultural issues while appearing to have a greater staff of reporters. Michelle Rook, farm director with WNAX in Yankton, S.D., says, "As hard as we try, farm broadcasters can't be everywhere. The news service allows us to share stories so we can blend in news from Capitol Hill, from different geographies around the U.S. and even different countries. This helps us sound like we are on top of every issue.

"The news service also provides audio from the various farm and commodity group annual conventions throughout the year. If a farm broadcaster does not have resources or the travel budget to cover these events, they can still get some great stories via NFBS," Rook says.

For the Rural Radio Association, which is a farmer- and rancher-owned radio network in Nebraska, NFBS helps to bolster the staff of three farm broadcasters who provide agriculture updates once per hour on-air and online. Joe Gangwish, associate farm director for KRVN, Lexington, Neb., says the network is in a position of comparative luxury because it has a larger staff than most farm broadcast entities. But even with this manpower, NFBS has proven to be an excellent source for quick and relevant news.

Gangwish not only uses the service to gather news for his own programming but also is a regular contributor to the service. "I try to contribute as often as possible on things that are of national or regional interest," he says. "I feel that if I am going to use this service then I should contribute back to it as well. NAFB is a family, and I want to help other farm broadcasters out when I can."

Shinn notes that the level of expertise of the contributing members is phenomenal and they share this to improve the association and further serve the nation's producers. For example, Rook, also a regular contributor to the news service, filed stories with the NFBS service during a recent trip to Australia prior to the signing of the Australian Free Trade Agreement.

"I think it's valuable for farm broadcasters to be able to swap ideas and stories because our farm audience benefits from the information we share," Rook explains. "With the sophistication level of farmers today, the more news and information we can provide to help them manage their operation, the more valuable we are."

This dedication to the good of all members and the producer community is noticed and appreciated by NAFB members. Ken Root, executive director of the organization, says NFBS has far exceeded the members' expectations for an "AP-type" of news service.

According to Rook, the members have voiced their opinions and agree that it is a successful member service. "In various surveys conducted by NAFB, members have consistently ranked the NFBS news service as the number one benefit of being a member. The cumulative impact of farm broadcasters generating news across the nation and working together is a real asset for the farmer and consumer listeners we serve."

Gangwish also agrees, saying his network would like to see the service continue for a long time to come. "It's well worth our membership in NAFB to have access to it," he adds.

With so much positive feedback from both farm broadcasters and agrimarketers, it is no surprise that Root calls NFBS Live "the best success story" of how NAFB is providing benefits and services to its members and partners on a daily basis. AM


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