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Department of Communications and Agricultural Education

Tag: Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement

Lauri Baker presents at annual KSPA fall conference

By Allison Wakefield, agricultural communications and journalism junior

“Research isn’t just lab coats and chemicals,” said Lauri Baker, as she spoke at the annual Kansas Scholastic Press Association (KSPA) fall conference in the Kansas State University Student Union. 

Baker, associate professor of agricultural communications and journalism, explained to high school students the needs and benefits of conducting and distributing research. She introduced the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE) and its research mission to help people conduct their businesses, especially in rural areas. Baker is a co-founder of the center.

Students received data from two research projects CREE conducted with K-State undergraduate students. Baker detailed the step-by-step process to conduct a quantitative content analysis looking at e-commerce sales in the horticulture industry, which included reading literature about online sales in advertising and related to e-commerce and developing a codebook that was reliable to gather data.

Baker presented the research gathered from the quantitative analysis. The students were amazed at the horticulture websites’ lack of accessibility. Of 498 horticulture businesses, only 19.2 percent were selling online and half of those companies did not have fully functional shopping cart systems for customer purchases.

During her presentation, Baker asked the students what they would want from an online plant-buying experience and compared it to the data collected from the focus groups, known as qualitative research. The groups ask potential consumers what they want from an online plant-buying experience, such as 360-degree video imaging and the use of more pictures.

The students listened to the challenges these businesses were facing and the improvements they could make from the research conducted.

Baker discussed how the millennial generation – those born between 1981 and 1997 – did not love the ideas that were created. She described how their findings helped business owners understand that potential customers wanted many resources when looking to purchase and care for a plant. She also mentioned the pitfalls of not having an engaging, high-quality 360-degree video for the focus groups to view the plants.

Focus group research confirmed that millennials prefer going into a business to purchase plants instead of buying online. It helped researchers understand and communicate to the businesses that they needed more deal pricing to get customers in the door.

The presentation concluded with Baker reiterating the importance of research and how it can help companies boost revenue. Several students said they were inspired by her presentation and asked Baker how to conduct their own research.

New role for Cassie Wandersee

Story by Deanna Reid, master’s student

Cassie Wandersee has moved from her role as research assistant with the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE) to a role with the communications and agricultural education department.

In her role with CREE, Cassie created social media and blog content, webinars, participated in public speaking events, workshops and gave conference presentations.

This fall, as part of her new job, Cassie will be teaching AGCOM 590 – New Media Technologies. She will also be assisting with social media planning and implementation. She is now located in Dole Hall and working closely with Megan Macy through the News Media Services team.

“I am excited to work more closely with K-State Research and Extension and our state 4-H group. Social media is key to reaching many audiences across Kansas, I hope I can put my skills in social media analysis and planning to good work,” Cassie says.

Cassie completed a bachelor of fine arts and minor in mass communications in 2012 and a master’s degree in agricultural education and communications in 2016 at Kansas State University.

CREE presents at Engagement Symposium

Dr. Lauri M. Baker and Dr. Cheryl Boyer, with the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE), presented their insights on communicating research to communities at the Engagement Symposium. This event was held at the K-State Student Union on April 12.

The event brought campus researchers together to share their insights and encourage the conversation on how to best address communities’ most pressing issues. It was sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy, the Center for Engagement and Community Development, and the Staley School of Leadership Studies. For more information on the event, you can visit http://www.k-state.edu/cecd/events/symposium/.

CREE executive directors, Baker and Boyer, shared their experiences on community engagement with a presentation titled, “Working with Rural Agricultural Businesses to Identify New and Social Media Needs”.

Baker and Boyer spoke about how they engage the community while making progress on research and addressing the communities’ needs. The two also highlighted their recommendations for growing involvement.

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2018 New-Media Marketing Bootcamp

Story by Anissa Zagonel, master’s student

The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE) recently hosted the New-Media Marketing Bootcamp at the Bluemont Hotel in Manhattan, Kansas. Small and rural business owners, communication professionals, and K-State Research and Extension employees came together to build social media strategies, while learning new skills and creating content.

Attendees spent a day and a half in breakout sessions where they were guided through the steps to tell their organization narratives and plan content across multiple platforms. “One of the most difficult parts of running a business or serving your community through Extension is finding the time to do everything your job demands,” says Cassie Wandersee (’16), managing director. “At Boot Camp, we provide attendees the time and support to focus on their communications and marketing efforts without daily distractions.”

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Department well represented at 2018 SAAS Conference

Story by Ashley Fitzsimmons, senior (ACJ)

The 2018 Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists (SAAS) was held in Jacksonville, Florida. Graduate students, alumna, and faculty from our department attend SAAS to learn, network, and present their agricultural communications research.

The SAAS conference is a great opportunity for professionals in the agricultural industry and the educational field to come together to learn from each other and collaborate ways to improve the industry. The conference is divided into sections; agricultural communications is one of them. This networking event allows for other agricultural communicators to challenge each other to find more effective way of communicating the agricultural message.

During one of SAAS’s paper sessions, recent graduate, Courtney Boman (’17) and department head, Dr. Jason Ellis (’98) presented their research focusing on the “Measuring the influence of Twitter-based crisis communications strategies on brand reputation via experimental design.” The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement managing director, Cassie Wandersee (’16) and graduate professor, Dr. Lauri M. Baker presented their topic, “A quantitative assessment of possession rituals and engagement in Pinterest: An examination of the agricultural industry,” as well during this session.

Graduate students also had the opportunity to share their research findings at SAAS with a poster session and talking one-on-one with other professionals at the conference. Andres De Leon, Deanna Reid, and Kelsey Tully’s research focused on the “The Next Generation of Video Marketing: A qualitative study exploring the use of 360-degree video to market plants to millennials.”

Graduate student, Deanna Reid, says, “Attending SAAS was a great opportunity to meet other graduate students and agricultural communications professors. It was also neat to be able to put faces with the names on the articles and research I’ve been reading.”

Kansas State University and the Department of Communications and Agricultural Education was well represented at SAAS. These events give students the chance to explain and defend their research as well as learning from other academicians in the agricultural communications field.

Opportunities for Alumni Through CREE’s Outreach Events

Story by  Michaela Hughes, sophomore (ACJ)

The Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE) is advancing its mission through outreach and training events on marketing and communications for audiences throughout Kansas and beyond. These events range from webinars and Facebook live videos to seminars and the annual New-Media Marketing Boot Camp.

“We remain focused on empowering people to feel comfortable using new-media marketing tools. Whether it’s Facebook, a newsletter, or a blog, we want people to understand the platforms they working in,” says Cassie Wandersee (’16), managing director of CREE.

Recently, CREE collaborated with partner organizations to host several events and webinars.

One of these partnerships is with the Marketing Learning Community of the Association for Communications Excellence (ACE). CREE began working with ACE to host bi-monthly webinars that focus on training participants in communications theory and practice. During the last webinar, they discussed content strategy and planning for small businesses and service organizations.

Co-creater, Dr. Cheryl Boyer and Managing Director, Cassie Wandersee presenting at the K-State Research and Extension Annual Conference.

CREE has also partnered with K-State Research and Extension. Dr. Cheryl Boyer and Wandersee presented on content strategy and communicating through multiple channels at the K-State Research and Extension Annual Conference in November. It is also working with Kansas Pride on an online seminar in January focused on launching e-commerce stores. This webinar will discuss the benefits, as well as the preparation needed, for creating an online store.

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CREE Welcomes Royalty

Story by Chelsie Calliham, ACJ

Mikhayla DeMott, the newly hired audience engagement specialist for the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement (CREE), serves many roles. Agricultural communicator, Kansas State University alumna, and Miss Rodeo Kansas.

Miss Rodeo Kansas 2018DeMott understands the need to connect agricultural based, rural businesses to information and research on new-media technology. She will foster that connection in her position at the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement through event planning, client outreach, media relations, and content creation.

“I’m very excited to see CREE grow this year under the vision of our newly hired director, Cassie Wandersee, and staff,” DeMott says.

She graduated (’17) with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and journalism with minors in mass communications and leadership studies from K-State. DeMott’s passion for agriculture was developed at a young age and still continues to grow. She grew up on a horse farm in Rio, Illinois, and discovered the joy in sharing the story of agriculture through rodeo.

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