How can a farmer get a chance to write for CNN?

by Janice Person, Advisory Board

Recently a lot of us turned on our social media channels one day to find two very familiar names tied together, but the connection of the two probably wasn’t expected. We were excited to see that CNN’s food blog ‘eatocracy’ included a familiar name from the AgChat community writing a guest post!

Yes, our friend the person behind the AgProud blog and Facebook page, Twitter’s @AR_ranchhand, Ryan Goodman wrote a piece for CNN’s food blog “No Bull – what a cattle farmers wants customers to know”! I bet some folks had to wonder how it happened and are wondering if that sort of thing can happen again. When someone asked Ryan if he’d write something up, he thought it may look like he’s bragging and passed. Well I will gladly brag on him with hopes it helps others get that kind of visibility.

What Makes Ryan So Special

Ryan created this opportunity by being himself and being available on a regular basis. Opportunities don’t just happen out of the blue. So if you want to dissect the steps involved, here’s what I see makes Ryan so special:

  • Puts himself out there in conversations and groups — A couple of weeks ago, eatocracy had a post about gestation crates, and I asked some farm friends what they thought of the piece since I am not a livestock person. The discussion about the post helped me think through various ideas from others and in the process, Ryan thought about things, left honest comments and contributed his experience with a really balanced objective.
  • Engaging with people whether or not opportunity knocks – when Ryan participates in a conversation, he does it from a place of honesty never just trying to get the big light to shine. He was making a difference before he caught CNN’s eye and he will continue to do just that.
  • Built an incredible content base – Ryan actively engages with people throughout the week and has been doing that for years. He has multiple venues online and in real life. I have to say if people reading the original post clicked on Ryan’s name, he had linked it back to his website AgricultureProud.com. Doing that, a blog manager or reporter would see an established ability to have conversations on topics about food and farming.
  • Offers expertise, don’t pretend to be an expert – You can tell, Ryan knows his stuff and is interested in talking to others about the topics. He participates in an open honest dialogue without trying to make people think that what he says is right…. he’s just sharing information and having conversations. He offers his expertise without talking down to anyone.
  • Celebrates other’s passions and successes – One of the things that draws people to Ryan is his joy in celebrating the passions and successes of others. Whether its giving people a stage from which to tell their story through guest posts or taking a photo now and then to send a friend (yes, he has done these things for me and lots of other folks!) That builds his network.

You May Be Just as Special

What’s really awesome is when you dissect what Ryan has done that most likely got him the chance to bring a farmer’s perspective to CNN, is it can be replicated. Maybe you can’t duplicate it, but I think the model holds a huge amount of potential for all of us. And of equal importance, it can serve as great motivation!

We can all do the things that Ryan does so well:

  • Create a great base of content — It takes regular blogging, tweeting, Facebook posts, etc to build your audience, draw search engines and clearly illustrate your experience & expertise.
  • Find ways to engage with others — Whether it is by joining chats which are on twitter (here’s a how-to participate and a list of established chats), following & contributing to local hash tags, or creating or finding Facebook pages that relate to your interest, there are lots of ways to find folks who talk about food and who may be interested in reading about your farm.
  • Celebrate successes no matter the size — Maybe you notice a new subscriber to your blog, or a really thoughtful comment, or some hits from a search engine…. Whatever it is celebrate it and keep your motivation up. After lots of successes you will see they add up to major accomplishments!

Janice Person is a city girl who loves cotton and biotechnology. She stumbled into a passion for communications early in life and has never looked back. A colorful adventure is her personal blog and her work in public affairs for Monsanto includes blogging and social media outreach.  Follow her on Twitter (@JPLovesCotton).