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Communicating Your Story tip sheet series starts

About the ANR Communicating Your Story Tip Sheet Series: This is a series of monthly publications designed to provide communications tips to ANR academics and staff. The Tip Sheets are intended to augment the “Communicating Your ANR Story” (CYS) project.

What is CYS? Communicating our stories as researchers and educators is essential. Increasingly, this involves digital technologies. CYS consists of interactive webinars hosted by ANR Learning and Development that provide insight about a range of tools and platforms that will advance your work. The series covers a range of communications topics, including: writing blogs for ANR and other platforms, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Hootsuite and more. Throughout the CYS program, you'll learn how to create compelling content, use it effectively and efficiently...and also how to develop a communications strategy that works. In addition to the webinars, online resources supporting CYS are located on the Learning and Development webpage, and one-on-one “consulting” is available from UCCE advisor Rose Hayden-Smith ( 805.794.1665) to support your efforts.

Positive Communications in 2019: Three Resolutions

Resolution season is upon us. I've got a suggestion for your list: a commitment to a regular communications practice in 2019.

How we extend information and share our story is an area where a couple of resolutions can really pay off. Most of us realize we could do more/should do more in the digital space, but it's often overwhelming. Self-doubt creeps in…is what I'm doing interesting? Do I know enough to do this? It's scary to put your work out there.

Take heart…you're not alone. And take a look at these three tips to help you communicate your ANR story in 2019.

1. Commit to better social media by going back to basics: Begin with the basics of strategy – purpose, audience, and capacity.

What purpose do you want your social media to serve? Do you want to share information, increase awareness, reach new people?

To whom do you want it to appeal (audience)? Who do you follow on social media? Who do you want to follow you? These things will vary depending on your program and clientele, but it's worth sketching out a few notes.

Once you strip things back to those fundamentals - purpose and audience - probe further. Really examine the concept of your ideal client or follower: what do they find interesting? What do they find useful? What are they liking or sharing on social media. Who are they following?

Effective social media is about so much more than projection. Creating a positive communication channel via your Twitter or Instagram account doesn't happen overnight. You need to consider how to cover a spread of relevant content, stay true to your core values, and share your story while remaining mindful and grounded.

The third thing to consider is your capacity. What's realistic for you to do? How much time can you devote to social media? Can you be consistent in posting? Would developing strength on one platform be better than spreading yourself too thinly on several? (There are many ANR academics who follow this strategy). Sometimes, less is more.

Social media has a bad rep for many reasons. Stay in a better space: make your social media feeds a positive, thoughtful, useful, and intellectually challenging place to be - both for your followers and for you. Make sure social media remains a powerful communication tool rather than a place where you feel insecure or inauthentic

2) Commit to a better blogging practice: Blog posts are your opportunity to expand on your story beyond a succinct soundbite or caption.

A good blog is many things: sincere, informative, thought-provoking, challenging, or even entertaining. A blog can be all of these things across a number of different posts - or even in one post! You probably don't need me to extol the benefits of having a relevant, up-to-date blog: they help people find your work in Google searches, allow ideas and messages to develop and build over time, and can assist in cultivating a loyal and engaged following.

So why don't more people use them effectively, or consistently? Well, because they're usually not part of ‘core business', they slip to the bottom of the To Do list time and time again. However, if you commit to regular blogging, you'll see the pay-off.

And remember, you don't need to have a blog or website to submit a blog post to ANR's website. ANR is developing an “educational pipeline” for academics to share timely information for the public via the ANR website and social media. You can submit a story via this online form, then Strategic Communications will take it from there to distribute. Make it a resolution to take advantage of this in 2019!

3. Be a lifelong learner: With a series of informative ANR Learning Development webinars coming your way nearly every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., this is one resolution that will be easy to keep! LinkedIn: 1/3/19; Blogging Basics 1/10/19; Instagram: 1/24/19; Facebook: 1/31/19. Creating a Communications Strategy: daily half-hour webinars with “homework” and “office hours” during the week of 2/4-2/8/19. Webinar details at

Happy New Year!

Rose Hayden-Smith, PhD
UCCE Advisor Digital Communications in Food Systems and Extension Education

Posted on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at 10:39 AM
  • Author: Rose Hayden-Smith, PhD

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