The Smart Garden: Plant with Purpose Blog Post

Gardner Award Winner for Writing for Company Website – Original Content – Marketing
By Debbie Clayton

Kyle Ladenburger

We asked Kyle Ladenburger, director of regulatory affairs for EnP Investments, LLC, the following questions about his award for the blog post, “The Smart Garden: Plant with Purpose.”

Please briefly describe your winning project.

The project I submitted was an essay on how to design and execute a garden to best fit each individual gardener. I focused on ways to streamline a garden and the space it inhabits in a fashion that results in less waste and promotes much more overall productivity and pleasure. The core idea is creating a garden to reflect a gardener’s true tastes and bring maximum enjoyment, instead of anxiety and stress. 


What were your main objectives in developing this project?

My goal was to show people there are ways to create a bountiful and productive garden that is completely manageable and not overwhelming. Many gardeners start with gardens that are too big and lack focus and foresight. After getting through half a season, it often becomes daunting for them. In the face of such a monumental task, they tend to give up and the enjoyment of gardening disappears. My objective was to present a piece debunking the idea that “bigger is better” and show people that it’s possible to go big in a small way.

What influenced your approach?

The piece came from my own experience as a gardener for more than 10 years. Through trial, error, hindsight and focus, my garden evolved into what it is today: a smarter, more thoughtfully executed garden that has little waste, doesn’t take up all of my free time, and provides excellent harvests throughout the season. The piece takes the reader through my journey – from learning how to properly design a garden to preserving a harvest for future use. I hope the reader can learn from my experiences and get off to the best start possible.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.

I think its simplicity makes this piece stand out. It shows a reader that, with proper thought and dedication, a simple and manageable garden is within basically everyone’s grasp. Gardening should be enjoyable. We shouldn’t have to look at it like a chore. I wanted to show everyone how easy it can be to create a focused garden with a real purpose. I believe my piece broke things down in a manner that simplifies the process, showing what is accessible to all. 

31st Annual TOCA Meeting – Mile High Education Opportunity

By Kristy Mach

The TOCA program committee is about to embark on planning for the 31st annual meeting in Denver. Block out April 28-30, 2020, and get ready for some mile-high education and tours!

Picture by @canusatouristik

Colorado is becoming known for a different type of green, having legalized cannabis in 2014. The program committee will be looking at all available opportunities when planning educational sessions, golf and tours in Denver.

The meeting will take place at the Crown Plaza Denver. A negotiated rate of $179/night will be available to all attendees. If you’d like to come in early or stay on after the meeting, the TOCA rate is available three days pre- and post-meeting. You may need to call in to receive the rate, but it’s a great opportunity to explore the Mile High City. Find things to do at Visit Denver.

As the classic John Denver Rocky Mountain High song goes…

He was born in the summer of his 27th year
Coming home to a place he’d never been before
He left yesterday behind him, you might say he was born again
You might say he found a key for every door

No matter your age, when you attend a TOCA Annual Meeting you “find a key” to a renewed enthusiasm for your work, the green industry and the TOCA organization. We won’t get crazy and “try to touch the sun,” but we will keep the professional development, friendships, awards and memories we make in Denver alive for another year.

If you have any educational or tour stops you’d like to program committee to consider, please contact Kristy Mach at 952-758-6340 or kristymach@gandgcomm.com. See you in Denver!

FX Luminaire Product Catalog, Landscape Lighting

Gardner Award Winner for Design – Marketing Communications: Printed collateral – overall collateral design
By Dawn Rigby, Managing Director at Xylem Marketing

Steve Sharp

We asked Hunter Industries’ Steve Sharp, principal designer on the Creative Development team, and Ryan William, director of marketing, the following questions about their winning project “FX Luminaire Product Catalog, Landscape Lighting.”

Please briefly describe your winning project.

The project is a product catalog for our landscape lighting brand, FX Luminaire. Primarily, distributors and contractors use the catalog. FX Luminaire is known for its superior products, constant innovation and excellent customer service.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

Ryan Williams

Our objective was to design a catalog that clearly communicates to customers that FX Luminaire manufactures highly efficient products with longer lifespans than our competitors. We wanted to create a piece that was visually appealing, clean and simple to use. We refined the charts to simplify the information and ordering process. Since this is a printed piece, we wanted it to have a nice, tactile feel. That’s why we used perfect binding with a soft-touch coating on the cover.

What influenced your approach?

The factor that most influenced our approach was our objective to reinforce FX Luminaire as a high-end brand. We included large beauty shots, lots of white space and minimal, clean chart graphics. Since we are also starting to offer our products globally, we looked critically at catalogs from European companies that might be potential competitors so that we could create literature that is competitive with global brands and styles.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.

The FX Luminaire product catalog stands out because of its large, dramatic photographs, which span across the spreads that divide each product category, combined with the soft-touch coating on the cover and perfect binding.

A Star in Any Language

Gardner Award Winner for International: Best Writing Publication (article or editorial)
By Britney Riggs, Digital Marketing Specialist at Xylem Marketing

We asked Scott MacCallum, editor/publisher of Turf Matters, the following questions about his winning project “A Star in Any Language.”

Scott MacCallum

Please briefly describe your winning project.

A Star in Any Language was Turf Matters’ Ryder Cup preview. The Golf National, Paris Course Superintendent Alejandro Reyes, was a young Spaniard and an extremely impressive individual. He gave us more time than we expected to produce a half-hour videoed interview with him and free rein to photograph and drone film the course. The article was based on the incredible lengths he took to secure his job and high level of professionalism that went into preparing the course for what was the highest profile sporting event of 2018.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

We worked closely with Ransomes Jacobsen staff on the project as they wanted to maximize the benefit from the investment they made as a key sponsor of the Ryder Cup maintenance program. Ransomes Jacobsen saw Turf Matters as an ideal vehicle to showcase the commitment they had made to the success of Alejandro’s course preparation work. The result was a video that displayed Alejandro’s passion and no-compromise dedication. It was also Turf Matters’ first overseas assignment since it was launched in 2014.

What influenced your approach?

My aim always is to gain the trust and respect of my interview subject. Once that has been achieved, I make sure that an interview is more of a chat between friends, which will elicit better answers than a more structured, set-in-stone set of questions approach. Going in with an open mind, rather than having a fixed expectation of how the interview will go, is, I believe, the best approach. Sharing stories with an interview subject, also, makes the subject feel they are gaining something from the process, too.

Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.

With 35 years experience as a golf writer, I know the game inside and out. And with nearly 25 of those years in the turf maintenance sector, I know enough to draw out the interesting aspects of a story from a superintendent. In this case, I saw Alejandro’s task of learning French for his vital second interview, while not relevant to the article’s main Ryder Cup preview goal, as a superb “hook” to gain the reader’s interest. I think the article captured the essence of Alejandro and showed what is required to produce a perfect Ryder Cup course.

Welcome to Business, Brands and Beasts: A Breakfast Seminar Presented By: G&S Business Communications

By JoDee Sattler

Some things never change… like the GIE+EXPO location and the great people who attend the Green Industry and Equipment Expo. But, some things change, like the day of the TOCA breakfast and its new sponsor. And change is good!

This year’s TOCA breakfast, held in conjunction with GIE+EXPO, scheduled for Oct. 16-18, at the Kentucky Exposition Center, Louisville, begins at 7:15 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17 (not Friday, as in the past), in the Press Center, which is in room C-112.

G&S Business Communications is the new TOCA breakfast sponsor and will offer a snapshot of the education our members and others receive at the TOCA Annual Meeting, April 28-30, Denver. Read on to learn what this new sponsor – with new content – has on tap for the GIE+EXPO TOCA breakfast.

In a disruption-filled marketplace, your business and brands can unexpectedly become adversaries when vying for customers. While the business is focused on immediate, short-term results, brands are focused on longevity. And, yes, aligning the two can be a beast. 


To help tame the beast, G&S will share a proven framework for aligning your business strategy with brand storytelling and provide tips and tricks for telling stories with emotion and power across traditional, digital and social media.

Join the G&S team of Steve Halsey, agency principal and managing director, and Lyndsey Newnam, vice president (and long-time active TOCA member), for a power breakfast that blends presentation, practical exercises and takeaways for green industry communicators.

Event schedule:

7:15-7:30 a.m.             Open for breakfast

7:30-7:40 a.m.             TOCA welcome and update

7:40-8:30 a.m.             G&S Business Communications presentation

8:30 a.m.                     Program complete

To attend the TOCA-G&S Business Communications breakfast and seminar, attendees must be registered for the 2019 GIE+EXPO.

We look forward to seeing you in the Derby City. Remember to invite all your colleagues, clients and friends, because this is going to be a fantastic seminar. And did we mention bacon?

Click here to register.

TOCA Strategic Plan Continues Implementation

By Kristy Mach

Last February, the TOCA board of directors met in Fort Myers, Fla., to develop a strategic plan for the organization. Click here to read up on the full action of the strategic plan.

At the annual meeting in Charlotte, members volunteered to serve on the various committees established at the initial strategic planning session. Those committees are:

  • Membership – Bill Roddy, chair
  • International – Scott Hollister/Den Gardner, co-chairs
  • Professional Development – Debbie Clayton, chair
  • Communications – Scott Covelli, chair
  • Program – Russ Warner, chair
  • Recognition – Den Gardner, chair
  • Futures – Cindy Code, chair
  • Nominating – Russ Warner, chair

Many of the committees have held conference calls and are creating action plans in their assigned areas.

International

The International Committee is making plans to reach potential UK members at the Saltex show in November in Birmingham, England. Additionally, outreach will be made at the British Turf Management (BTME) Exhibition in January in Harrogate, England, and the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in Orlando in January. As momentum builds, the goal is to have a one-day educational TOCA meeting in the UK near June 2020. This will be attended by Den Gardner.

Communications

The Communications Committee has been busy leading up to the annual meeting and afterward. A members-only Facebook page was created and content continues to be shared there and via TOCA’s other social channels regularly. Kellie Lasack joined the G&G staff back in March and has been working with the communications committee members and professional development committee members on a more robust social media plan. Additionally, plans are underway to launch a new website in time for membership renewal.

Membership

The Membership Committee will meet again to discuss how to promote TOCA in the United States. At the Cultivate show in July, members gathered with prospective communicators in the ornamental market to help put the “O” back into TOCA. Attendees of the meet-up received a TOCA coffee mug as an incentive to “fuel professional growth” through TOCA. Nothing beats word-of-mouth encouragement to join this great organization, so please keep spreading the word about the benefit of TOCA membership. If you have any questions or need support materials, please contact Membership Director Kyle Wieskus at kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com.

If you’re interested in serving on one of these committees, please contact TOCA staff and we’ll get you involved!

Fall Running: It’s More than Exercise

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

It’s time to enjoy beautiful fall days. How about a jog/run or walk? Early morning fall running can be a wonderful experience. Check out the colors and stay in shape. Running in cool weather is so exhilarating.

Here are some fall running tips I’ve gathered over the years and also gleaned information from Minnesota’s Hall of Fame Cross Country Coach Gerry Smith:

  • It’s probably time to check your shoes if you are still using your summer shoes. The tread may be worn or you might just want to “do it” with a new pair of shoes. Shopping for new shoes is always fun.
  • Because you no longer need to avoid the heat of the day by running early in the morning – unless that is something you like to do – get some extra sleep in the morning and do your run in the late afternoon. If you are semi-retired like me, run during the middle of the day.
  • A light, long-sleeve top is always a nice touch for fall. And how about a bright green set of shorts?
  • Even though you are not sweating as much, you still need to hydrate. A famous cross country coach once said, “Your sweat is your fat crying. Keep it up.”
  • Dress in reflective gear and possibly use a flashlight. And because the weather is so unpredictable for most parts of the United States, as fall wears on keep an eye on the weather. Rain and/or strong winds can make for a tough run. Watch for puddles and slippery conditions.
  • Enjoy nature. Sometimes get off the roads and head into the forest or truly cross country.

Feel free to contact me – Dan Gardner at twin1gard@aol.com – your TOCA running editor. I have a multitude of ideas (some effective) and my advice is free. Because I am semi-retired, I have plenty of time to help you with your physical fitness. Finally, to help make TOCA the best membership association it can be, keep that brain working as you get much-needed exercise and formulate how YOU can play a part in making TOCA the best association it can be. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!

Putting the ‘O’ back into TOCA

By Russell Warner, TOCA Board President

Anyone who has been in TOCA board meetings or attended the annual meeting the last couple years has heard the phrase, “putting the ‘O’ back into TOCA.” As we all know, TOCA stands for “Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association.” Let’s be honest… we have excelled at the “T,” but the “O” has been lacking.

In the past, we’ve attempted to remedy the lack of “O” in several different ways. We have attended Cultivate and handed out TOCA flyers. We have offered discounted memberships to ornamental companies and we have sent e-blasts to marketing contacts, all with little success.

Then Cultivate 2019 rolled around where we decided to make another push. With the help of Bayer and Gardner & Gardner Communications, we put together swag bags with TOCA mugs and Starbucks gift cards, and held a meet and greet in Syngenta Flowers’ beautiful booth. We received support from some old friends from Bayer and Nufarm, formed new relationships with the folks at Syngenta Flowers and had participation from GIE Media’s Horticulture Group. Even so, the turnout could have used some improvement.

So, why do we bother? Because we need the voice of the entire industry. As green industry communicators, it’s our responsibility to be highly knowledgeable in all aspects of the market so we can continue to educate our audience with well-rounded perspective. And at the very least, I’ll remind you that the TOCA name includes turf AND ornamental. What if Steak ‘n Shake didn’t serve burgers? What if Hall never met Oates? What if you were hiding and nobody was seeking? All those things would only be half as good!

We will continue to push forward in our efforts to put the “O” back into TOCA. However, the board can’t do it alone. We need help from each of our members to continue to grow this crazy little group of ours. So, if you know anyone on the “O” side of the business, make sure you talk to them about the benefits of TOCA. Help them understand why it is such an important part of your career. Forward this TOCA Talk newsletter and invite them to our next annual meeting in Denver. We know we’re doing great things for the industry. Let’s be our own advocates and make sure the rest of the industry knows.

Bill Klutho’s Complete Remarks when Accepting the 2019 TOCA Hall of Fame Honor

I remember when I first arrived in Raleigh in June of 2000, I was starting as a novice…not only in the industry but as a public relations person. During my working life, I had been a radio announcer, a job developer for people that had been in trouble with the law, a play-by-play sports announcer for everything from basketball, football, professional boxing, rugby and pro rasslin’. And when I started working for John Deere, actually the HMO the company owned at one time, I became a communications generalist. Graphic designer, media buyer, brochure writer and singer. Singer? Well, without singing, I wouldn’t be here today.

The new president of John Deere Health Care (JDHC) John Jenkins had started when the company was on the ropes. His goal his first year was to make a one-dollar profit. But John knew it was important to invest in people…and people having fun. So, when the holidays came up that year, he wanted to host a party but knew he wouldn’t have a big budget to work with. He knew I knew local musicians and asked if I could find people to play live music. So, I enlisted the help of bassist Charlie Abplanalp and keyboardist Anthony Watkins. But about two hours in, Charlie called me up to ask to sing a song because they had run out of seasonal music. Charlie had been to a number of our annual tree-trimming parties so he knew we could pull something out. And out came a scene from ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway.’ We took the tune Come Together by the Beatles and rewrote the lyrics on the fly – ending with Come Together right now…JDHC.

The song became a staple for each meeting we had for as long as John was our president. Tweaking the words for each ‘rendition,’ which is what John called these tunes.

The coup de gras came with a complete rewrite of American Pie for a rollout of a major initiative.

The day John took the job as head of the turf unit I wrote a press release announcing his replacement and John approved the release. That was late February 2000. As I was leaving his office, he thanked me for my help during his tenure as president and said that if he had a chance to get me on his new team, he would. Now, I’m thinking that was nice of him to say but the chances I’d be moving with him were small. That was the time I realized I should never doubt John. Three months later, I was sitting in an office in North Carolina.

John created two jobs…one for internal communication and one for external. With the work I had done at John Deere Health, I was thinking I would be in line for the internal job, but John thought I might be better suited for the external role.

I was so lucky to have people in Raleigh ready to help this novice in public relations. My boss at Deere, Bob Tracinski, was a master gardener and communicator, and also is a member of the TOCA Hall of Fame. He was instrumental in getting John Deere involved with TOCA and the Evergreen Foundation, now known as Project Evergreen. Bob took me to my first GIE Expo in Indianapolis in November of 2000. It was my first in-person exposure to the green industry and the first time I met some of you. The following Monday, Bob called me into his office. I was wondering if I had done something wrong. If people had talked to Bob at the meeting and said, ‘who in the world is THAT guy.’ Instead, Bob told me he was really impressed with how I had handled the weekend and because of that…he decided to retire. In three months…

That’s when I started my punctuation jobs. My first job in the Commercial and Consumer Equipment division (now thankfully know as Turf) was manager public relations. But after Bob retired, I became manager comma public relations. Small difference but much bigger payday.

Being thrown into the fire like that, I was so fortunate to have PR professionals like Catherine McCrary, McGavock Edwards, Kris Welsh and Ray Hornak at Epley & Associates showing me the ropes. Without them, I wouldn’t be standing here tonight. And it’s so special to have Catherine and McGavock here tonight. All were big proponents of TOCA. We made a great team. And teamwork is the key toward what we all do. And it is what TOCA is all about. None of us can do our jobs without the assistance of others.

In my job as a PR guy, I tried my best to make sure the information you received from us at John Deere was as unfiltered and informative as possible, because that’s what you wanted from us. That meant working with top-notch subject matter experts that knew their industries and were able to communicate their knowledge to people in simple terms. Greg Weekes, Gregg Breningmeyer and Gilbert Pena all got it. The two Greggs, unfortunately, are not with us anymore. Both were vibrant people who were passionate about their work and their lives. I remember being in Louisville with Gregg Brenningmeyer at OPEI. Catherine McCrary and I were ready to take him to the airport to catch his noon flight. Gregg had been raving about Steak ‘n Shake and Catherine said she had never been to a Steak ‘n Shake. Greg had us turn away from the airport and go to the nearest Steak ‘n Shake. It meant missing his flight but when I spoke to him Monday morning back at work, he said it was the best $75 change fee he ever spent just being able to see Catherine’s face light up with a great new experience.

And face it…we are all up for new experiences. I can’t believe any of us dreamt about becoming communications professionals in the green industry when we were growing up. But now that you’re here…aren’t you happy? And TOCA is a big part of that experience because of the chance to interact with like-minded people. The last couple of days have given me a chance to get reacquainted with old friends and have a chance to start new relationships. It has made me realize how much I loved ‘working green.’

One of my favorite songs is by the group Poco. It’s called Follow Your Dreams. The chorus says…

Give It Your best
Don’t worry about what some may say\
Follow Your Dreams
It’s really all that you can do
Give It your Best and remember that life is what you choose 
Follow Your Dreams 
And do what you love to do

I’m a fortunate guy. I’ve gotten to live several lives and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’d like to give a big shout out to Charlie and Donavan…my two boys who let me see life through newer eyes than my age would have normally allowed. And most of all, I’d like to thank my wife Amy who has tried her best to make me a better person. And sometimes she has succeeded, but I’ve probably frustrated her far too frequently. We are celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary next weekend, May 11h…the same day as our oldest son Charles/Charlie/Chuck graduates from Iowa State University.

So…as I say thanks to Den Gardner, Cindy Code, Pat Jones, Larry Aylward, current members of the Hall and the board of TOCA for the honor of being added to the illustrious list of honorees in the Hall of Fame, I want you to remember to always give it your best, follow your dreams and do what you love to do.

Norman Goldenberg Named the 2019 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year

Project EverGreen Sponsors Environmental Communicator Award
with Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association 

Cleveland, Ohio (May 2, 2019) — The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) and Project EverGreen announce long-time green industry champion Norman Goldenberg as the recipient of the 2019 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year Award.

The award, which recognizes individuals for outstanding communications efforts regarding green space and environmental issues, was presented during TOCA’s 30th Annual Conference in Charlotte on May 1. He is the 21st recipient of this award.

 For nearly 60 years, Goldenberg has been a mainstay in the professional lawn, landscape and professional pest management industries. His extensive government affairs expertise and acumen for working with regulators has helped businesses – big and small – successfully navigate the inherent challenges of working with pesticides both residentially and commercially. 

Goldenberg is widely known for his daily e-mails detailing local, state and national news surrounding the use of pesticides and fertilizers. His extensive knowledge of regulatory affairs surrounding these industries has made him a sought after speaker, advisor and committee and task force participant in state houses and hearing rooms across the country.

“This award caps off a long 57-year career. I respect and appreciate this award,” said Goldenberg during his acceptance. “Communications have and always will be vital to factually sharing the messages that represent our business. But don’t make the mistake of assuming your story has been heard; it’s an on-going process.”

Goldenberg has a Bachelor of Science in Entomology from the University of Florida. He owned his own pest control company – Alert Lear Pest Control in Miami – before selling his business and starting an illustrious 28 year career at Terminix and TruGreen. 

He formed Namron Business Associates in January 2014 with the goal of bringing his decades of experience in the lawn care and pest management industries to other companies and associates. 

Clients, among others, have included Terminix, TruGreen and the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), where he imparted dynamic knowledge and guidance in areas such as regulatory compliance, public affairs and legislative consulting.

“Norman is a true gem. His knowledge, energy and compassion make him a true industry champion,” said Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “His tireless efforts to communicate factual and up-to-date information on vital issues impacting business owners and consumers are admired and appreciated by thousands nationwide. Norman is a natural environmental communicator and deserving of this prestigious award.

Previous Environmental Communicator Award recipients include:

1999 – Mark Welterlen, former publisher Grounds Maintenance magazine
2000 – Bill Love, W.R. Love Golf Architecture
2001 – Tim Doppel, Atwood Lawn Care
2002 – Doug Fender, former executive director, Turfgrass Producers International
2003 – Allen James, former CEO, RISE
2004 – Rod Dodson, Audubon International
2005 – Jeff Gullickson, Spokane Country Club
2006 – Kevin Trotta, grounds manager/IPM specialist, Cornwall, NY
2007 – Helen Stone, Southwest Trees & Turf magazine
2008 – Allied Golf Associations of Colorado
2009 – Drs. Larry Stowell/Wendy Gelernter, PACE Turf
2010 – Christopher Gray, formerly Marvel Golf Club
2011 – Anthony Williams, formerly Marriott Golf and golf course consultant
2012 – Dr. Frank Rossi, Cornell University
2013 – Phil Fogarty, Weed Man and Crowley’s Vegetation Management
2014 – Brandon Horvath, University of Tennessee
2015 – Dr. Brian Horgan, University of Minnesota
2016 – Dr. Dave Shetlar, The Ohio State University 
2017 – Dr. Frank Wong, Bayer Environmental Science
2018 – Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit, Michigan
2019 – Norman Goldenberg

About TOCA

The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) is composed of editors, writers, publishers, photographers, public relations/advertising practitioners, industry association leaders, manufacturers and others involved in green industry communications. From its beginnings in 1990, it has served members of the green industry by fostering an open exchange of information regarding issues that affect how members communicate to various audiences.

About Project EverGreen

Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, Project EverGreen is a national non-profit committed to bringing people together to make a difference in how yards, parks and communities creating a greener, healthier, cooler Earth. Project EverGreen also supports military families through the GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops™ initiatives and communities and children with the Healthy Turf. Healthy Kids.™ program.

TOCA Talk – Summer 2019

This edition of TOCA Talk is proudly sponsored by Advanced Turf Solutions, an independent and employee-owned green industry distributor. Thank you, members of the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association, for supporting this industry through your information, education, and outreach.


The President’s Corner
By Russell Warner, TOCA Board President

Writing My First Column and What TOCA Means to Me

I have received more out of TOCA than I could have imagined at the time Chuck asked me to take his place on the board. I love the camaraderie… the ability to associate with those who share the same goals in making the green industry a well-educated one. I am honored to be the president and I will do everything I can to pick up where Scott left off and help lead the organization moving forward. Read Russell’s entire first column and learn more about him.


Only the Beginning…
By Den Gardner, Executive Director

I was struck by one of the comments made by the attendees this year when we surveyed them after the meeting. “The tight-knit community that TOCA has created is very warm and welcoming, and it was great to connect with people who understand our industry and marketing.” That says it all in my book. Read more about Den’s retirement and his new adventures here.


TOCA Strategic Plan Committee Provides Update
By Kristy Mach

What are the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association’s (TOCA) overall goals? What direction should TOCA head? What are TOCA’s priorities? The TOCA Strategic Planning Committee addressed these questions at its strategic planning session held in February and rolled out to members at the 30th annual meeting in Charlotte in May. Here are highlights from the TOCA strategic plan.


TOCA Announces Communications Award Winners
By Kristy Mach

TOCA 2019 Winners

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) honored members from around the world for their outstanding communications entries at the association’s 30th annual meeting, held April 30-May 2, in Charlotte, N.C. This year’s contest drew 362 entries. See list of winners here.


TOCA Hall of Fame Inducts Bill Klutho
By JoDee Sattler

Bill Kutho, manager, strategic public relations at John Deere, has a new lucky number – “13.” He became the 13th TOCA Hall of Fame inductee, an honor bestowed upon him at the 2019 TOCA Annual Meeting.

Klutho’s professional journey went from radio announcer to job developer (for people that had been in trouble with the law) to play-by-play sports announcer to John Deere Health Care communications generalist to manager, public relations with John Deere’s turf unit.

The TOCA Hall of Fame is designed to recognize the cumulative accomplishments of deserving communicators who have made outstanding contributions to the turf and ornamental industry. The mission of the Hall of Fame is to promote TOCA’s most outstanding past and present members, amplify and enhance its ideals, advance the professional standards that TOCA champions, as well as to preserve the historic achievements that TOCA members have accomplished.

Learn more about Klutho’s green industry career path, teammates and TOCA involvement by reading the comments he shared at the TOCA Annual Meeting.


Hollister Receives Volunteer Award
By JoDee Sattler

This year’s volunteer of the year was Scott Hollister, past president and active participant in TOCA’s efforts to get its international chapter off the ground. In addition, through a couple departures of board members (including the president and vice president because of career changes), Hollister stepped in and resumed the presidency of TOCA. Many thanks go to Scott Hollister for his tireless efforts to promote TOCA domestically and abroad. He can now “relax” as past president of TOCA. NOT! Click here to learn more about Hollister.


TOCA Honors Goldenberg as Environmental Communicator of the Year
By JoDee Sattler

Norman Goldenberg, retired green industry executive from Terminix, received the 2019 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year Award. He is the organization’s 21st recipient. The award, sponsored by Project EverGreen, recognizes individuals for outstanding communications efforts regarding green space and environmental issues. Click here to read more about Goldenberg.


The Passing of Linda Daniels

After a long illness, Linda (Laylah) Daniels (VanBibber), a retired PBI-Gordon family member, passed away April 7, 2019. Laylah worked at PBI for 25 years and retired in May 2011 as the director of marketing. She was a mentor to many employees and helped successfully launch many new products during her career at PBI. Click here to read her obituary.


Summer 2019 Running Column
By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

Thanks to everyone who participated in the TOCA Run/Walk at the annual meeting in May in beautiful (except for the 3 a.m. fire alarm at our hotel) Charlotte. The great turnout of walkers and runners was exciting, and we look forward to growing our numbers next year in Denver. Click here for Dan’s running tips.


My TOCA Experience, from Across the Pond
By Ellie Parry, Forte Marketing & Public Relations

The TOCA Annual Meeting was a great experience for me in so many ways. Each place I have visited during my 18-year turf industry career, at home and overseas, has been a valuable learning opportunity, but I was particularly excited to meet other communications professionals and take part in an educational program specifically created to develop our skillset. Learn more about Ellie’s experience and what she enjoyed most.


Tips and Tricks from TOCA Meeting 2019


Leveraging Market Research
By Amy Jones

Research is an invaluable tool for brands or media organizations, but it’s important to know the right way to find and use it. To help navigate the ins and outs of market research, the team from Kynetec, a global leader in agriculture and animal health market research, presented best practices at the 2019 TOCA Annual Meeting. Learn about the best practices here.


Turning Analytics into Action
By Dawn Rigby, Xylem Marketing

Analytics are the quantitative and qualitative information that can be used to measure the effectiveness of your work. It can show you what your audience cares about and it can tell you what you are wasting time on. Your overall goal will determine which metrics you should track. Discover new advances in analytics here.


Ten Takeaways on Interviewing Skills
By Debbie Clayton

Mick Mixon, the play-by-play announcer for the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers, delivered a rousing session on interviewing techniques at the 2019 TOCA Annual Meeting. Saying he was “cheated” out of the genes needed for playing sports, he decided covering sports was the next-best thing.

Mixon strongly suggests preparing for interviews by thoroughly grounding yourself in the subject matter and with these ten great tips.


Digging Deeper into Digital Tools
By Scott Covelli, EPIC Creative

Workdays can quickly become tedious or disorganized if we’re not intentional about how we do things. It’s also hard to change your ways when you’re busy enough trying to get everything done. LaForme shared several tools that make daily tasks easier and life more organized. Learn about all the tools LaForme shared.


Branded Content and Native Advertising
By Jill Odom

Consumers aren’t fooled by branded content. They know when they’re looking at something sponsored. The key is to tell a story that is created for the audience and is real. Customers want transparency and they want to form a connection with the company.

Learn more from Gregg Hiller, editor-in-chief of Progressive Farmer, Sheri Seger, director of national advertising with DTN and Progressive Farmer, and McGavock Edwards, strategic communication director at Eckel & Vaughn, on branded content and native advertising.


TOCA Strategic Plan Committee Provides Update

By JoDee Sattler

What are the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association’s (TOCA) overall goals? What direction should TOCA head? What are TOCA’s priorities? The TOCA Strategic Planning Committee addressed these questions at its strategic planning session held in February and rolled out to members at the 30th annual meeting in Charlotte in May. Here are highlights from the TOCA strategic plan.

Through this process, the group made four key changes from the previous committee structure:
• The Communications Committee is a stand-alone committee and it will take over several responsibilities from the Professional Development Committee.
• The International Committee is a subcommittee of the Membership Committee.
• The Recognition Committee is a subcommittee of the Program Committee.
• Board members must belong to at least one committee and serve as the board liaison for that committee. If multiple board members are on the same committee, designate one as the liaison.

Subcommittees play a vital role in developing and implementing strategic plans. Here’s a synopsis of TOCA’s strategic plan subcommittees and their chairs, exploration topics and expectations. More than a dozen attendees at the annual meeting agreed to join various committees of TOCA. Please let Kristy Mach (kristymach@gandgcomm.com) know if you’re interested in being on a committee and weren’t able to join the meeting in Charlotte.

Membership
Chair: Bill Roddy
Members: Andrew Gillman, Cindy Code, Pat Morrow
Topics/expectations:
• Develop plans and promotions to grow membership.
• Evaluate membership categories.
• Formally adopt “creep dues” strategy.

International
Chair: Scott Hollister
Members: Jon Kiger, Den Gardner
Topics/expectations:
• Review international attendees’ stipends to attend annual meeting.
• Evaluate live-streaming annual meeting.
• Contact International Federation of Agricultural Journalists regarding potential green industry chapter.
• Spend next 18 months evaluating international chapter in English-speaking areas of Europe and Australia/New Zealand.

Professional Development
Chair: Debbie Clayton
Members: Dawn Rigby, Courtney Mullen, Britney Riggs, Amy Jones
Topics/expectations:
• Select editorial content for TOCA Talk.
• Advise Program Committee regarding TOCA Annual Meeting topics.
• Develop added-value opportunities for members through professional development.

Communications
Chair: Scott Covelli
Members: Jill Odom, Mark LaFleur, Lyndsey Newnam
Topics/expectations:
• Promote professional development opportunities.
• Build “membership community” through online tools.
• Enhance TOCA website.

Program
Chair: Current TOCA president
Members: Current TOCA vice president, past president and board of directors, and other TOCA members in the region hosting the annual meeting
Topics/expectations:
• Consider new learning methods, such as lightning rounds and great debates.
• Develop annual meeting topics and tours.
• Gain social content to boost meeting attendance.

Recognition
Chairs: Den Gardner
Members: Cindy Code (ECY), TOCA staff (HOF, Volunteer of the Year)
Topics/expectations:
• Coordinate Environmental Communicator of the Year (ECY) with award sponsor.
• Coordinate Hall of Fame (HOF) program with TOCA staff and longtime members.
• Consider other recognition programs.

Futures
Chairs: Cindy Code and TOCA staff
Members: Felicia Gillam, Steve Trusty
Topics/expectations:
• Organize scholarship and two internship programs.
• Consider a mentor program.

Nominating
Chair: TOCA president
Members: TOCA vice president, past president
Topics/expectations:
• Develop candidates to assume leadership positions.
• Following board approval, members approve candidates at annual meeting.

In addition, the Committee on Committees, an ad hoc committee, will determine what committees are relevant to TOCA and how they should be assembled, managed and made a long-term fabric of TOCA. This committee of Kristine White, Debbie Clayton, Katie Beth Groover and Amy Jones will develop committee recommendations for next February’s Strategic Planning Committee meeting. This committee will dissolve once the TOCA board of directors approves their recommendations at the 2020 TOCA Annual Meeting.

TOCA staff will continue to manage the TOCA Communications Content, with Lynette Von Minden serving as chair and Jill Odom reviewing contest categories. In addition. TOCA staff, with input and assistance from the board of directors, will carry out Sponsorship Committee duties.

President’s Column

Writing My First Column and What TOCA Means to Me

By Russell Warner, TOCA Board President

I am not a writer. I have never produced a press release, a marketing piece, an article or a column. I realize that these skills come easily to a majority of the TOCA membership, but my background is in sales. I graduated with a Business Management degree from Kent State University and the extent of my writing experience consists of e-mails – sent to many of you – trying to sell something.

I have worked for GIE Media, Inc. as an account manager since July 2006 and have been a TOCA member a majority of that time. In my earlier membership years, the extent of my participation was waking up at the crack of dawn to attend the yearly TOCA breakfast during the Golf Industry Show. Then, in 2015, my buddy and co-worker, Chuck Bowen, was unable to continue his tenure as a board member. He suggested to the board that I would be a good replacement and… BOOM! I became a TOCA board member. (Not to worry, we have a much better vetting process for board members nowadays.)

I had never attended the TOCA Annual Meeting as a member, so my first experience at this event in 2016 was as a board member. Initially, I worried how I’d be able to contribute in my new role, but I was quickly welcomed and brought up to speed by the rest of the board. I volunteered to be part of the Membership Committee and became the chairman of that group in 2017. I helped in any way I could and quickly fell in love with the organization and the people involved.

Last year, I accepted the position of secretary-treasurer, knowing I would be third in line for the president’s seat. Once I heard the news that TOCA President Lacy Ravencraft and Vice President Marissa Palmieri left the industry. I thought to myself, “Does this make me the president of TOCA?” followed by, “Nah, someone would have called me.” Days later I received that call from Scott Hollister (who stepped back into the presidency until a replacement could be voted in) and he asked if I’d be interested in the new role. I told him it would be my honor to be nominated and I knew he would be a great resource for me if I needed guidance.

So, here I am, the new TOCA president. I have received more out of TOCA than I could have imagined at the time Chuck asked me to take his place on the board. I love the camaraderie… the ability to associate with those who share the same goals in making the green industry a well-educated one. I am honored to be the president and I will do everything I can to pick up where Scott left off and help lead the organization moving forward.

As many of you know, an important member of the TOCA family, Den Gardner, has retired from his role as executive director. Den’s commitment to TOCA is a big reason the organization has thrived over the years. I’m thrilled he’ll continue to contribute in a different capacity, with Kristy Mach taking over the executive director role.

Well, there it is; my first column in the books. How did I do?

Russ Warner

rwarner@gie.net

Only the Beginning…

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

For those who attended the Charlotte annual meeting and watched the “tribute” Kristy Mach prepared for the first 30 years of TOCA, themed to the music “Beginnings” by the pop/rock group Chicago, it might seem a dichotomy. (As many of you know, I manage and play in a cover band that plays a lot of Chicago tunes, so the connection was certainly obvious, and I loved it!)

So, is looking back 30 years the “beginning”? It really is. This is a new beginning for TOCA. As I move to a more consulting role in the organization and Kristy takes over in the executive director role, let’s celebrate TOCA by starting a new chapter. (BTW, Kristy is 45 years old as she takes over the day-to-day reins of TOCA. I was 38 when TOCA was conceived in 1989. So, she’s got many years of additional experience under her belt than I did as a novice association management person back then. You are all the better for that!) Kristy and I have thoroughly enjoyed the past five and one-half years we’ve worked together as partners. She is smart enough to have hopefully picked up on the one or two good qualities I profess to have – the most important being able to attract and work with people smarter than me.

As I looked out at the crowd in Charlotte, I saw energy. I saw young professionals (YP) that seemed to make up at least half of the attendees. When I noted that these YPs were the future of TOCA, applause broke out. That’s what gets me excited.

I also saw veteran TOCA members in the audience who were there in the beginning years of TOCA; people like Steve and Suz Trusty, Cindy Code, Owen Towne and Debbie Clayton. These folks have stuck with TOCA from its beginnings and are still key players in its future. I will always value their friendships.

When I think back to those early days (and I was reminded about this many times over the years), I can’t help but tell one of my favorite anecdotes. It was year two in St. Louis in 1991. About 20 of us were there and the breakfast the last morning was being sponsored by John Deere, one of our founding sponsors. As breakfast neared around 7:30 a.m., the room was basically empty, except for a great buffet, me and my cohort Lois Kocon. There were no smart phones, no way to text attendees. But there was a hotel phone, to which I got on the phone and called every member. I “politely” asked them if they wanted a future for TOCA and were hungry. If so, sponsors like John Deere and other founders like Ciba-Geigy (now Syngenta) wouldn’t likely be around when no one showed up at their sponsored events. Some of you will remember that call. Right, Cindy Code? Right, Owen Towne?

What happened? The people showed up and they have continued to show up since then – at annual meetings, events at trade shows for our various audiences, by participating in our awards contest and so much more.

So, to all of you who already play a major role in TOCA or are going to jump in with both feet today, I say:

Only the beginning
Of what I
(you) want to feel forever
Yes, only the beginning
Only just the start

Thank you to every member the past 30 years for the honor of serving you as executive director. Thanks to all the staff people at G&G then and now who keep the wheels of the bus turning each day in the right direction to make TOCA the kind of organization we all want it to be. I know we’re facing the right way. Finally, thanks to my spouse Sandy, who supported me through three decades and kept me pumped to keep moving TOCA forward to meet its members’ needs.

I was struck by one of the comments made by the attendees this year when we surveyed them after the meeting. “The tight-knit community that TOCA has created is very warm and welcoming, and it was great to connect with people who understand our industry and marketing.” That says it all in my book.

What a testament that comment is about TOCA members. After all, when all the professional development is finished, the networking has concluded and the last swallow of a Smith & Kearns slides down my throat (a great late-night drink – look it up), it’s the friendships, the warmth and the memories that will sustain me. I hope when I’m 97 I’ll be able to attend TOCA’s 60th anniversary meeting.

I used the following line from Confucius five years ago in the introduction to the 25th anniversary book about TOCA. It’s fitting yet today. “Choose a job that you like and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That describes TOCA and my 30-year adventure to a tee!

From that organizational meeting in Minneapolis in 1989, to the excitement ahead as we implement the new strategic plan, it’s time for you guys to make TOCA better. A mentor of mine once told me: “If you’re gonna dream, you might as well dream big.” That’s my dream for you as you take TOCA to the next level. I know I won’t be disappointed. For it truly is “Only the beginning.”

TOCA Announces Communications Award Winners

By Kristy Mach

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) honored members from around the world for their outstanding communications entries at the association’s 30th annual meeting, held April 30-May 2, in Charlotte, N.C. This year’s contest drew 362 entries.

TOCA 2019 Winners

TOCA’s communications contest recognizes individuals for excellence in writing, design, photography/audio visual, new media and special projects. The top winners from the marketing and publishing categories received Gardner Awards. This year’s first place, merit and Gardner Award winners are listed below:

International – Merit
Best Design, Single Page (advertising page)
“Lawn Master franchise recruitment campaign 2018”
Ellie Parry

International – First
Best Design, Single Page (advertising page)
“I-80 Rotor: Full Service Without Breaking Ground”
Jennifer Madrigal, Rich Dunn

International – Merit
Best Design Publication (full magazine article layout)
“Improving on a masterpiece”
Tim Moat

International – First
Best Design Publication – one-page design article
“The beast on the east”
Tim Moat

International – Merit
Best Design Publication – one-page design article
“All eyes on Paris”
Tim Moat

International – First
Best Photo Brochure (or similar marketing/sales literature)
“The Fields Park, Portland, Oregon”
Hunter Industries

International – Merit
Best Writing Publication (article or editorial)
“Design for drought defence”
Helen Willson

International – Merit
Best Writing Publication (article or editorial)
“Demain’s the name”
Scott MacCallum

International – First and Gardner Award
Best Writing Publication (article or editorial)
“A Star in any language”
Scott MacCallum

International – First
Best Copywriting Publication (display advertisement)
“Calliope Geraniums Consumer Advertorials”
Syngenta, G&S Business Communications

International – First
Best Copywriting Brochure (or similar marketing/sales literature)
“Calliope Geraniums Consumer Planting Guide”
Syngenta, G&S Business Communications

Design – Merit
Website design – digital design
“LebanonTurf New Website”
Jeremy Bigler

Design – First
Website design – digital design
“LESCO – Website”
Swanson Russell

Design – Merit
Digital media (non website) – digital design
“Nufarm Sure Power Interactive Infographic”
Katie Beth Groover, Lori Blennert

Design – Merit
Digital media (non website) – digital design
“FISHER Digital Ads – Plowsite Takeover”
EPIC Creative

Design – First
Digital media (non website) – digital design
“Secure Action Fungicide Digital Advertising”
Mark LaFleur, RaeAnne Gleason

Design – First
Electronic publishing – overall newsletter/magazine design
“For the Health of It – Golf E-newsletter”
Theresa Ford

Design – First
Electronic publishing – overall company web design
“Bayer Website”
Bayer

Design – First and Gardner Award
Printed collateral – overall collateral design
“FX Luminaire Product Catalog, Landscape Lighting”
Steve Sharp, Ryan Williams

Design – Merit
Printed collateral – overall collateral design
“WESTERN 2018 Catalog”
EPIC Creative

Design – First
Printed collateral – overall collateral design
“FISHER Brand Book”
EPIC Creative

Design – First
Printed direct response – overall direct response design
“Dura Products EOP Self Mailer”
Victoria Carter

Design – Merit
Printed special projects
“Nufarm Braves Event”
Katie Beth Groover, Lori Blennert

Design – First
Printed special projects
“GIS 2018 – Condition. Perform. Recover.”
Mark LaFleur, RaeAnne Gleason

Design – Merit
Point of purchase materials
“Dollar for Dollar, Pound for Pound”
Sophia van Oss

Design – First
Point of purchase materials
“Empro Fertilizer Bag”
Sophia van Oss

Design – Merit
Printed magazine/single page design, advertising
“BOB-CAT Product Catalog”
EPIC Creative

Design – First
Printed magazine/single page design, advertising
“GreenTrust 365 Print Ads”
Mark LaFleur, RaeAnne Gleason

Design – Merit
Printed magazine/single page design, advertising
“Manuscript Herbicide Print Ad”
Mark LaFleur, RaeAnne Gleason

Design – Merit
Printed magazine/single page design, advertising
“AEP – SUREPYC Print Ad”
Swanson Russell

Design – First
Printed magazine/two-plus page design, advertising
“Posterity Fungicide Cover Tip Print Ad”
Mark LaFleur, RaeAnne Gleason

Design – Merit
Printed magazine/two-plus page design, advertising
“Broadform: The Solution Is Clear”
Bayer, Global Prairie

Design – Merit
Printed magazine/two-plus page design, advertising
“WESTERN WIDE-OUT XL & Pro Plus HD Print Ads”
EPIC Creative

Design – First
Printed magazine/less than one page design, advertising
“Foliar-Pak XCD Ad”
Justin Thiry

New Media – First
Blogs
“Talking Turf”
Bayer

New Media – First and Gardner Award
Websites
“Syngenta Dollar Spot Solutions Website”
Syngenta, G&S Business Communications

New Media – Merit
Websites
“Syngenta Fairy Ring Solutions Website”
Syngenta, G&S Business Communications

New Media – Merit
Most engaging social media campaign
“Steel Green Manufacturing Facebook Campaign”
Dawn Rigby, Britney Riggs

New Media – First
Most engaging social media campaign
“Posterity Fungicide Social Media Campaign”
G&S Business Communications, Syngenta

New Media – First
Best mobile application
“Hunter Presenter App”
Hunter Industries

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best photograph – marketing purposes – printed collateral (one or more photos in a collateral piece)
“GIS 2018 – Condition. Perform. Recover.”
Mark LaFleur, RaeAnne Gleason

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best photograph – marketing purposes – printed custom publication
“FX Luminaire, Napa Valley, California”
Jason Ward

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best short video/DVD (2 minutes or less)
“FISHER – Brand Anthem Video”
EPIC Creative

Photography • Video • Multimedia – Merit
Best short video/DVD (2 minutes or less)
“Hydrawise Wi-Fi Irrigation Controllers”
Sean Bell, Phil Robisch, Jeff Falk, Anthony Long

Photography • Video • Multimedia – Merit
Best long video/DVD (more than 2 minutes)
“ECHO – Red Armor Fuel Treatment”
EPIC Creative

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First and Gardner Award
Best long video/DVD (more than 2 minutes)
“Rain Bird – ‘Defend Your Turf’ Winged Foot Golf Club Video”
Swanson Russell

Photography • Video • Multimedia – Merit
Best long video/DVD (more than 2 minutes)
“Koch Turf & Ornamental – Ewing Video Series”
Swanson Russell

Photography • Video • Multimedia – Merit
Best instructional video/DVD
“Carrier Systems Installation Video”
Justin Thiry

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best instructional video/DVD
“Nufarm Sure Power Training Module”
Lori Blennert, Katie Beth Groover

Special Projects – First
Special Event
“Posterity Fungicide Food Truck & Twitter Campaign”
Mark LaFleur, RaeAnne Gleason

Special Projects – Merit
Special Event
“Green Start Academy”
Amy Jones, Tessa Bonnstetter

Special Projects – First
Best integrated marketing campaign
“Hunter and FX Luminaire Rockstar”
Hunter Industries

Special Projects – Merit
Best integrated marketing campaign
“Syngenta Posterity Fungicide Launch”
Syngenta, G&S Business Communications, Martin Williams

Special Projects – First and Gardner Award
Miscellaneous special marketing communications project
“Steel Green Manufacturing Launch Campaign”
Dawn Rigby, Justin Thiry, Victoria Carter, Courtney Mullen, Britney Riggs

Special Projects – Merit
Miscellaneous special marketing communications project
“Soil Solver Application”
Dawn Rigby, George Murray, Justin Thiry

Special Projects – Merit
Miscellaneous special marketing communications project
“Spring Valley Single App Point of Purchase Materials”
EPIC Creative

Writing – Merit
Copywriting for a display ad – commercial publications
“Manuscript Herbicide Print Ad”
Mark LaFleur, RaeAnne Gleason

Writing – First
Copywriting for a display ad – commercial publications
“Posterity Fungicide Print Ad”
Mark LaFleur, RaeAnne Gleason

Writing – Merit
Copywriting for a display ad – commercial publications
“Secure Action Fungicide Print Ad”
Mark LaFleur, RaeAnne Gleason

Writing – First
Writing for printed collateral
“FX Luminaire Product Catalog, Landscape Lighting”
Matthew McArdle, Ryan Williams

Writing – First
Writing for printed collateral
“Rain Bird – System Renovation Brochure”
Swanson Russell

Writing – Merit
Writing for printed collateral
“Koch Turf & Ornamental – Peer #2 Case Study”
Swanson Russell

Writing – First
Writing a news release
“Fourth Generation of Family Leadership Joins Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply”
Veronica Biczo

Writing – Merit
Writing a news release
“Ferris – ‘Limited Edition Ferris IS 3200 Midnight Edition Mower Now Available’ News Release”
Swanson Russell

Writing – First
Writing a feature article
“Winterizing Your Irrigation System”
Andrew Gillman

Writing – Merit
Writing a feature article
“PERC – ‘3 Secrets Contractors Using Propane Don’t Want Their Competition to Know’Article”
Swanson Russell

Writing – Merit
Writing for company website – original content
“#FoliarFAQ Blog Post”
Dawn Rigby

Writing – First and Gardner Award
Writing for company website – original content
“The Smart Garden: Plant with Purpose Blog Post”
Kyle Ladenburger

Writing – First
Writing for company website – original content
“How to Grow Vegetables Indoors, Leslie F. Halleck”
Leslie F. Halleck

Writing – First
Writing for electronic newsletter – original content
“Women in Golf Roundtable Article”
Syngenta, G&S Business Communications

Writing – Merit
Writing for electronic newsletter – original content
“Golf and Tiger on the Upswing in 2018!”
Christopher Gray

Writing – First
Writing for electronic newsletter – original content
“Toro Advantage Distributor Content”
Kristine White

Writing – Merit
Special Writing Project
“Hunter 2017 Corporate Social Responsibility Report”
Bryce Carnehl, Matthew McArdle, Dina Newcomb

Writing – First
Special Writing Project
“Koch Turf & Ornamental – Specialty Media Placement for TotalLandscapeCare.com”
Swanson Russell

Design – Merit
Cover page design – printed magazines
“Labor Crisis”
Karen Carr

Design – First
Cover page design – printed magazines
“LM March 2018 cover – Is Your Company at Risk?”
Tracie Martinez

Design – Merit
Cover page design – printed magazines
“Golfdom November 2018 cover – Distance Education”
Pete Seltzer, Andrew DeGraff, Seth Jones

Design – First and Gardner Award
Single page design, editorial – printed magazines
“Social Media Notes”
Karen Carr

Design – First
Two-plus page design, editorial – printed magazines
“Vino Venture”
Justin Armburger

Design – Merit
Two-plus page design, editorial – printed magazines
“Bond of Brothers”
Jim Blayney

Design – Merit
Two-plus page design, editorial – printed magazines
“LM June 2018 – LM150 profiles”
Tracie Martinez

Design – First
Overall magazine design – printed magazines
“October 2018”
Justin Armburger

Design – Merit
Overall magazine design – printed magazines
“LM October 2018 – overall magazine design”
Tracie Martinez, LM Staff

Design – First
Overall media kit design
“2018 Horticulture Group Media Kit”
Justin Armburger, Katie Tuttle

Design – First
Overall media kit design
“2019 Media Planner”
Karen Carr

New Media – Merit
Podcasts
“GCSAA Podcast, Episode 2, October”
Scott Hollister

New Media – First
Podcasts
“50 Years of Controversy – An Interview with Dr. Joe Vargus”
Frank Rossi, Ph.D.

New Media – First
Blogs
“LM – Blog”
LM Staff

New Media – First and Gardner Award
Blogs
“Parker Stancil in Denmark”
Parker Stancil

New Media – First
Websites
“GCMOnline.com”
Megan Hirt

New Media – Merit
Websites
“TurfNet.com”
Peter McCormick

New Media – First
Innovative use of social media
“Golfdom – PGA Championship social coverage”
Seth Jones, Kelly Limpert, Abby Hart, Grace Rybak

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First and Gardner Award
Portrait/Personality (photo of individual or group of individuals)
“LM October 2018 cover – Growth Mindset”
Tracie Martinez, Matthew Allen, LM Staff

Photography • Video • Multimedia – Merit
Portrait/Personality (photo of individual or group of individuals)
“Golfdom September 2018 cover – T.A. is Taking Care of Business”
Tom Lebsack

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best single photo – Use of stock art (anywhere in the magazine)
“A family affair”
Kelly Neis, Roger Billings

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best single photo – created by a TOCA member or freelancer commissioned by a TOCA member
“Golfdom June 2018 cover photo”
Kevin Dietsch

Photography • Video • Multimedia – Merit
Best single photo – created by a TOCA member or freelancer commissioned by a TOCA member
“Golfdom May 2018 – U.S. Open preview spread”
Seth Jones

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best use of photography, judging three issues of a magazine
“Golf Course Industry”
Guy Cipriano, Pat Jones, Mike Zawacki, Jim Blayney

Photography • Video • Multimedia – Merit
Best use of photography, judging three issues of a magazine
“Irrigation & Green Industry magazine”
Karen Carr

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best print magazine cover
“Golfdom November 2018 – Distance Education cover”
Seth Jones, Pete Seltzer, Andrew DeGraff

Photography • Video • Multimedia – Merit
Best print magazine cover
“LM June 2018 – LM 150 cover”
Neil Stephenson

Photography • Video • Multimedia – Merit
Best print magazine cover
“Balancing act”
Rick Bern

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best CD/audiovisual presentation
“Mindful Superintendent 2018 Retreat Video”
Paul MacCormack

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best short video/DVD (2 minutes or less)
“GCSAA TV – The Art of Bunker Raking at the 100th PGA Championship”
EPIC Creative

Photography • Video • Multimedia – Merit
Best short video/DVD (2 minutes or less)
“GCSAA TV – Super Dogs! at Cherry Island Golf Course”
EPIC Creative

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best long video/DVD (more than 2 minutes)
“GCSAA TV – 100th PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club”
EPIC Creative

Photography • Video • Multimedia – Merit
Best long video/DVD (more than 2 minutes)
“GCSAA TV – An Incredible Bond Between Two Superintendents”
EPIC Creative

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best long video/DVD (more than 2 minutes)
“Top 4 Tips for a Happy Future Golf Career”
Randy Wilson

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best instructional video/DVD
“Document Projects with Before/After Photography”
Kevin Ross

Photography • Video • Multimedia – Merit
Best use of editorial or opinion in video/DVD
“Randy Wilson Forest Therapy”
Randy Wilson

Photography • Video • Multimedia – First
Best use of editorial or opinion in video/DVD
“A Message for Golf from A Last Wave Millennial”
Randy Wilson

Special Projects – First
Best single issue
“October 2018”
Kristin Smith-Ely, Karen Carr, Mary Williams-Villano

Special Projects – Merit
Best single issue
“LM June 2018 – LM 150”
Marisa Palmieri, Abby Hart, Sarah Webb, Tracie Martinez

Special Projects – First
Writing for special projects
“LM December 2018 – Industry Pulse”
Marisa Palmieri, LM Staff

Special Projects – Merit
Writing for special projects
“Golfdom December 2018 – State of the Industry”
Ed Hiscock, Abby Hart, Seth Jones, Sarah Webb, Chris Lewis

Special Projects – Merit
Best coverage in a magazine of an on-site event
“San Antonio state of mind”
GCM Staff

Special Projects – First
Best coverage in a magazine of an on-site event
“TPI 2018 Tucson”
Steve Trusty, Suz Trusty, Jane Tomlinson

Special Projects – First and Gardner Award
Miscellaneous special publishing project
“Gardening Under Lights; The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers, Leslie F. Halleck”
Leslie F. Halleck

Special Projects – Merit
Miscellaneous special publishing project
“2019 Dog Days of Turf Calendar”
Kelly Neis, Roger Billings

Special Projects – First
Special Event – Publishing
“TurfNet Members Trip to Ireland”
Jon Kiger

Writing – First
Editorial/Opinion Piece – commercial publications
“Don’t let time pass you buy”
Jim Nedrow

Writing – Merit
Editorial/Opinion Piece – commercial publications
“That Uncomfortable Conversation”
Brian Horn

Writing – Merit
Editorial/Opinion Piece – commercial publications
“LM November 2018 – Next gen mindset column”
Marisa Palmieri

Writing – First
Column – commercial publications
“The conversation”
Pat Jones

Writing – Merit
Column – commercial publications
“Golfdom April 2018 column – Message in a ceiling”
Seth Jones

Writing – First
Series of columns by regular department columnist – commercial publications
“Golfdom 2018 – Keeping up with the Jones”
Seth Jones

Writing – Merit
Series of columns by regular department columnist – commercial publications
“Up to speed”
Thom Nikolai, Ph.D.

Writing – First
Ornamental feature article – commercial publications
“Golfdom August 2018 – Wildflower meadows for the busy superintendent”
Hannah Schrum

Writing – Merit
Turf feature article – commercial publications
“Golfdom August 2018 – Thin white line”
Paul Koch

Writing – First
Turf feature article – commercial publications
“LM April 2018 cover story – Efficiency Hackers”
Marisa Palmieri, LM Staff

Writing – First
Product information article – commercial publications
“In with the new”
Howard Richman

Writing – Merit
Product information article – commercial publications
“Golfdom February 2018 – He’s got a ticket to drive feature”
Seth Jones

Writing – Merit
Product information article – commercial publications
“Golfdom October 2018 – Fully charged”
Abby Hart

Writing – Merit
Operations profile – commercial publications
“Chuck Hafner’s Consistent Surprises”
Steven Trusty, Suz Trusty, Jill LoCascio

Writing – First
Operations profile – commercial publications
“Golfdom July 2018 PGA Championship preview: A superintendent for the people”
Seth Jones

Writing – Merit
Business management – commercial publications
“Ohio YMCA takes over golf course with a fresh approach”
John Reitman

Writing – First
Business management – commercial publications
“The 10 Commandments of Successful Superintendents”
Dave Waymire, CGCS

Writing – Merit
Business management – commercial publications
“Why Landscape Businesses Fail”
Mary Villano

Writing – Merit
General feature article – commercial publications
“When I’m Gone”
Megan Smalley

Writing – First
General feature article – commercial publications
“Bond of Brothers”
Guy Cipriano

Writing – Merit
Environmental stewardship article – commercial publications
“Ross in Reverse”
Kristen Hampshire

Writing – First and Gardner Award
Environmental stewardship article – commercial publications
“A new sheriff in town”
Hal Phillips

Writing – Merit
Headline writing – commercial publications
“Vino Venture”
Lauren Rathmell

Writing – First
Headline writing – commercial publications
“Golfdom November 2018 – The dollars (and temps) of greens covers”
Seth Jones

Writing – Merit
Writing for website – original content only
“How to: Personal April showers to enjoy more flowers”
Jill Odom

Writing – First
Writing for website – original content only
“Beard brought ‘science’ to turfgrass science”
John Reitman

Writing – First
Writing for enewsletter – original content only
“The wind up and the pitch: Perfecting your design pitch”
Beth Hyatt

Writing – Merit
Series – two or more articles defined as series – commercial publications
“Labor issues affecting the golf industry”
John Reitman

Writing – First
Series – two or more articles defined as series – commercial publications
“Mauka to Makai”
Guy Cipriano

My TOCA Experience, from Across the Pond

By Ellie Parry, Forte Marketing & Public Relations

I was thrilled and excited to be informed that I was the recipient of an international stipend, which enabled me to attend TOCA’s 30th Annual Meeting in Charlotte.

I arrived a day early so I could take advantage of the sunshine and location, and explored the area on foot. I love urban architecture and the diverse neighbourhoods of the Queen’s City provided some wonderful vantage points – from the eclectic arts district of NoDa to the beautifully preserved settlers’ homes in the historic Fourth Quarter. I couldn’t visit the city without seeing the sports fields and I was fortunate to have staff from both the BB&T Ballpark and Bank of America Stadium recognize my English accent and invite their curious visitor in to see the playing surface. The newcomers’ dinner later that evening was my first opportunity to meet everyone. A great evening was spent getting to know more about the other attendees and their roles within the industry.

The event program got underway on Wednesday as we congratulated TOCA’s Environmental Communicator of the Year Norman Goldenberg and Volunteer of the Year Scott Hollister, and heard from media intern Parker Stancil, who was also volunteering at Quail Hollow that week. We were then introduced to Mick Mixon, radio announcer for the Carolina Panthers. His session, “Professional-grade curious,” not only provided fantastic guidance for creative and courageous interviewing, but made us all think about the deeper benefits of human connection.

The behind-the-scenes tour of Well Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow that afternoon was a great privilege and an event highlight for me. Visiting on Pro-am day, the venue was buzzing with energy and it was incredibly generous of Keith Wood, superintendent, and Lee Patterson, tournament communications director, to take time out to welcome us and talk us through the preparations and logistics of hosting an event of that size and profile. The golf course looked incredible in the sunshine as we followed Phil Mickelson’s team’s progress.

After joining Den Gardner’s early morning TOCA 5K Run/Walk Club on Thursday morning, I was energized and ready for a full day of education. Ren LaForme opened the morning session with a great keynote presentation on digital tools, which revealed some great must-try apps for personal organization and image creation. He then delved a little deeper into analytics and how to turn understanding into actions.

The afternoon panel debate on branded content and native advertising was particularly interesting for me. McGavock Edwards, Greg Hillyer and Sheri Seger used their roles as content creator, editor and advertising director, respectively, to give well-rounded insights into the wider considerations of this increasingly popular marketing approach.

Finally, we heard from Kim Meyer and Liz Vickerman from Kynetec about best practices in market research. They opened my eyes to further opportunities to undertake research beyond those I had already considered. They also gave me some ideas to take home for discussion with my clients.

The awards dinner that evening provided an opportunity to acknowledge the great work our peers produced last year. It is really motivating to see co-workers and competitors celebrating each others’ achievements. I congratulate all the winners and nominees.

The TOCA Annual Meeting was a great experience for me in so many ways. Each place I have visited during my 18-year turf industry career, at home and overseas, has been a valuable learning opportunity, but I was particularly excited to meet other communications professionals and take part in an educational program specifically created to develop our skillset.

I appreciate how much hard work goes into organizing events, so I’d like to thank Kristy Mach, Den Gardner and the annual meeting committee for all the work they put into staging a great week. I’d also like to thank all the sponsors whose financial and practical support makes it all possible. Finally, thank you to all the attendees who welcomed me into their groups and onto their tables, shared their backgrounds and experiences with me, and answered my many questions. If you come over to the United Kingdom, please contact me!

These are three of my take-aways from the meeting.

Getting together: Great things happen when people get together! At a time when our globally important industry is tackling major issues, such as climate change, sustainability and use of synthetic turf and chemical withdrawal, we will make greater progress and achieve more by sharing ideas and working collaboratively. I will be reaching out for a different perspective more often.

Contribute: The world needs more people like Den Gardener. His dedication to the green industry and TOCA has been incredible. Not everyone can commit 30 years to a cause, but each of us can get involved to do our bit. I am looking forward to working with the board to develop international membership.

Learn and adapt: The marketing landscape is constantly changing. In the digital world, particularly, things evolve quickly and we need to learn, adapt and keep ourselves informed. I will be seeking more learning opportunities and asking for toolkit recommendations from my peers.

Summer 2019 Running Column

 By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

Thanks to everyone who participated in the TOCA Run/Walk at the annual meeting in May in beautiful (except for the 3 a.m. fire alarm at our hotel) Charlotte. The great turnout of walkers and runners was exciting, and we look forward to growing our numbers next year in Denver. It was also great to see so many of you at the TOCA Annual Meeting and especially wonderful to run alongside (or behind) so many of you during the walk/run.

From time to time, readers express an interest in tips for starting a running regimen. Most experts say (for “newbies”) you must learn to walk before you learn to run. That is great advice. Start by walking five days a week – 30-45 minutes, five days a week. Eventually extend that to one hour. How long a process? You may want to do the walking stint for about a month. Then, start running short distances to the point where you feel comfortable. A good warmup is always some walking and running for about 0.5 mile, then get into your routine. Depending on your age and health, a good two- or three-mile workout is a good beginning.

Feel free to contact me – Dan Gardner at twin1gard@aol.com – your TOCA running editor. I’ll be happy to help you with any running questions, general health concerns or simply share my philosophy for living life at its optimal level.

Finally – to help make TOCA the best membership association it can be – keep that brain working as you get very much needed exercise and formulate how YOU can play a part in making TOCA an even better association. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!

Branded Content and Native Advertising

by Jill Odom

Gregg Hiller, editor-in-chief of Progressive Farmer, Sheri Seger, director of national advertising with DTN and Progressive Farmer, and McGavock Edwards, strategic communication director at Eckel & Vaughn, participated on a panel discussing branded content and native advertising during the 2019 TOCA Annual Meeting in Charlotte.

Seger broke down how marketing has its own language. Content marketing is considered the strategy portion, whereas branded content is the message being conveyed. Native advertising is the tactic.

She explained that branded content attempts to make an emotional connection with its audience. Yet, this form of marketing isn’t new.

Seger shared a timeline of branded content, pointing out that the first native ad was created in 1885 and was a promotional poster for a Buffalo Bill show that featured Sitting Bull.

She added that communicators have to figure out how to resonate with the right person at the right time and right place with the right message.

Consumers aren’t fooled by branded content. They know when they’re looking at something sponsored. The key is to tell a story that is created for the audience and is real. Customers want transparency and they want to form a connection with the company.

Yet, this quality, branded content does no good if it isn’t seen. Thus, distribution is just as important. “Consumers need lean, snackable information that breaks through the noise,” Seger said.

Branded content can take on many forms, such as articles, blogs, infographics or white papers. Seger advised using whatever works best for the platform where the content is being shared.

Key performance indicators that help you know if branded content is being effective include: click-through rates, time spent on site, page views, bounce rate and conversions.

Seger said native adverting is more expensive but performs better, yet she warned it can dilute your brand if used too much.

Seger and Hiller shared the success of some of their past projects with brands like BASF and the amount of content it generated. With the BASF “Innovations in the Field” project, there were 90 pages of content, 79 pages of BASF advertising and 130 blog posts created over a five-year span.

During the session’s second half, the moderator asked the panelists questions. Here are some of the questions and responses.

Does native advertising diminish the value of editorial? Hiller responded that if the branded content is done well, it is still valuable. “Good content is good content,” he said.

Is it ethical for editorial to create the branded content? Hiller explained that he hires knowledgeable freelancers to write this sort of content and keeps his staff separate from advertorial discussion. Seger added that it is important to make the client aware of the ethical guidelines they must follow.

Should the amount of native advertising be limited? Seger said she believes there will eventually be some fatigue toward native advertising and she explained how this type of content is more time consuming. Consequently, it should be priced respectively.

Digging Deeper into Digital Tools

By Scott Covelli, EPIC Creative

Ren LaForme

As a follow-up to Ren LaForme’s crowd-pleaser presentation last year at the 2018 TOCA Annual meeting, the Poynter Institute digital specialist returned in 2019 with more tools and updates. The digital tools he highlighted are designed to help us avoid misinformation, tell better stories and make our overall lives easier. There’s even one that helps you drink more water.

The tools are out there; we’ve just got to find them and use them. This is that first step.

Tools that make your work easier
Workdays can quickly become tedious or disorganized if we’re not intentional about how we do things. It’s also hard to change your ways when you’re busy enough trying to get everything done. LaForme shared several tools that make daily tasks easier and life more organized.

  • Otter and Descript can automatically transcribe audio for you from interviews or meeting notes.
  • ContactOut helps you find people and their bios through LinkedIn.
  • Canva and Headliner can aid in your social media efforts, giving you more engaging options to share your content.
  • Sortd and Toby help organize your to-do list and online research.


Tools for telling better stories with data
We’re in a world where data is being collected everywhere. Netflix is using algorithms to determine what kinds of shows to make. Coca-Cola used their freestyle machines to develop their next go-to-market flavor (it was orange vanilla). So, as communicators, how do we take all that raw data and tell meaningful stories with it?

  • Infogr.am and Datawrapper are tools that help you display data visually in your stories through icons, graphs and maps.
  • Google Dataset Search helps find digestible data through Google that you can use.
  • Data.World doesn’t just give you data, but it also gives you tips on how to analyze and display it.
  • Tabula allows you to pull data from PDFs and turn it into spreadsheet files.


Tools to survive the ‘Misinfonet’
Despite all the data out there, there are still just as many “hot takes” and speculation that can spiral out of control. It doesn’t even need to be nefarious to be damaging. If one misinformed influencer shares inaccurate information, it can reach millions of people in an instant. With our communication goal of always being accurate, these tools can help.

  • TwitterAudit analyzes your (or someone else’s) Twitter account to see how many of their followers are bots.
  • Facebook and Snap Live Maps allow you to see geo-tagged videos in real time.
  • RevEye and Google Image Search lets you reverse-search an image to find the source.
  • Who.Is shows you who owns or hosts a website so you can tell if it’s legitimate or fishy.


Tools to help you take care of yourself
Contrary to what some may say, it’s not all about the work. You’ve got to take care of you first and then the good work will come after it. The healthier you are, the better you’ll do at your job. These tools can get you in the right space in many different ways.

  • Nudge keeps you productive by encouraging you to not waste your day on social media.
  • Boomerang and Google’s “Snooze” function allow you to schedule or delay e-mails to more appropriate times.
  • As a part of Boomerang, Inbox Pause can help you focus by pausing all incoming e-mails in your inbox.
  • Just Not Sorry is a fun spin on tools like Grammarly, automatically highlighting or removing self-defeating words from your e-mails.
  • PlantNanny is a gamified reminder to drink water throughout the day.
  • LastPass claims to be the last password you’ll ever need, saving all your passwords in a safe place and suggesting good ones for future logins.


Remember, tools don’t do the work for you, but they help you do your best work. A hammer isn’t going to build a house for you, but it makes it a lot easier. With these tools, LaForme can help all of us be better communicators in the turf industry.

To see all of Ren’s tools and trends, visit http://poy.nu/toca19.

Ten Takeaways on Interviewing Skills

By Debbie Clayton

Mick Mixon

Mick Mixon, the play-by-play announcer for the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers, delivered a rousing session on interviewing techniques at the 2019 TOCA Annual Meeting. Saying he was “cheated” out of the genes needed for playing sports, he decided covering sports was the next-best thing.

Mixon strongly suggests preparing for interviews by thoroughly grounding yourself in the subject matter. In addition, he recommends:

1. Get over yourself.

Don’t hog the spotlight! The interview is not about you; it’s about the interviewee. It doesn’t matter who it is – the pope, the president or a local lawn care professional.

Give the person the opportunity to speak. If necessary, script and rehearse your first question, but use words as a scalpel. Keep it short.

2. Listen intently.

Chances are the next question is embedded in the answer to the first question…and so on.

3. Set your conversation goals high.

Avoid the following:

  • Improper language: Don’t say “ain’t” or “me and him” or “I’m fixin’ to do something” or repeat “like” every other word or misuse the word “literally.”
  • Up talking (do not end each sentence as if it was a question).
  • Answering questions for the interviewee.

4. Be relentlessly curious.

Three things are necessary for a good interview:

  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity

5. Questions are powerful.

Give the interviewee time to think. Try to evoke emotions with your questions. For example, ask:

  • When was the last time you cried?
  • What makes you laugh out loud?

6. Avoid statement questions and either/or questions.

7. Avoid premise questions.

This is where you give a lengthy explanation before asking a question. Just “skin it down” and ask the question.

8. Avoid two-part questions.

Just ask one question at a time and follow up with another question.

9. Be yourself!

10. Have fun!

Turning Analytics into Action

By Dawn Rigby, Xylem Marketing

Ren LaForme

In part two of the keynote Poynter Institute presentation at the 2019 TOCA Annual Meeting, Ren LaForme focused on analytics – which ones are important, what they mean and how to turn analytics into action.

“Analytics provide an overwhelming amount of information,” he said. “You can ignore most of it.”

Analytics are the quantitative and qualitative information that can be used to measure the effectiveness of your work. It can show you what your audience cares about and it can tell you what you are wasting time on. Your overall goal will determine which metrics you should track.

Use analytics to set a bar and try to beat it. The metrics that you choose as important are your KPIs (key performance indicators).

Quantitative Metrics to Watch

Quantitative data tell us how many visitors have viewed our website or article, what types of content are doing well and where visitors are coming from. Here are some examples:

Pageviews – How many times was your page viewed in a specific time period? Pageviews is an industry standard, but this metric provides an imprecise way to judge an article’s performance.

Unique Visitors – How many different people viewed your page in a specific time period? This provides a slightly better but still imprecise way to judge an article’s performance. By comparing pageviews and unique visitors, we can draw some conclusions.

Try this: If pageviews and unique visitors are close in number, you might want to find ways to increase the number of articles a visitor views.

Try this: If pageviews and unique visitors are distant in number, it might be a good time to brainstorm ways to attract new audiences. What else can you offer that you are not currently offering?

Active Visitors – How many different people are on your site and various pages right now? This metric is great for judging “trending” articles and judging day-to-day performance.

Try this: Look for things that are spiking traffic and promote the heck out of them. Look for things that are underperforming and look for ways to boost them.

Referrals – Where did your visitors come from? Referrals tell us what websites sent traffic to your site and ranks them by the highest source. This is valuable information to know, especially if you can turn these into ongoing traffic streams.

Try this: Identify your biggest champions and start building relationships with them.

Qualitative Metrics to Watch – Qualitative data can tell us who is visiting your site, why they are visiting your site, how they behave on your site and even how they react to your content.

Time on Site/Page – How long are visitors spending on a specific article or page? You want to increase this.

Try this: Find ways to make articles more engaging. Use storytelling tools to draw the reader in and make them more likely to complete the article.

Bounce Rate – What percentage of people leave your site after entering from a specific page? This is different from the exit rate. Bounce rates often correlate closely with referrals. They are great for identifying articles and pages where you should be pitching readers more.

Try this: Watch for pages with high engagement and high bounce rates. On these pages, look for opportunities to add internal links.

Conversion – Conversions are the completion actions that are defined by your team. Newsletter sign-ups or purchases could be conversions. These can be tricky to set up but they are invaluable measurement tools.

Demographic/Browser/Device Info – Who is your actual audience? These metrics tell you the age, gender, device type, location and more about who is actually visiting your site.

Try this: Adjust coverage to cater to big audiences or pursue niche ones with impact.

Try this: Use this information to think and behave like your audience.

Take Action Right Now

Experiment with the following suggestions from Ren LaForme and see how they impact your analytics.

  • Try sharing articles at different times of the day. How often do you post to social? Why do you post at those times and days? “In general, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. is the best time to share new content on Facebook and Twitter,” according to LaForme. He also recommended not sharing the same link more than once per week on Facebook, but he did recommend posting often and differently on Twitter. TweetDeck and Buffer are low-key tools to get started scheduling posts.
  • Experiment with scheduling posts for nights and weekends. It will not bring in as much traffic on average, but you may be surprised by what takes off.
  • Reshare older content that previously did well. It is a good idea to keep a list of evergreen content to pull from throughout the year.
  • Improve your headlines. Consider all of the places across the Internet where your headline will appear. According to LaForme, “A good SEO-friendly headline contains keywords, proper nouns, full names and unique words and phrases.”
  • Pick an underserved demographic and brainstorm ways to appeal to them.
  • Set up alerts for spiking articles and share them wildly when one hits.
  • Tell stories with interactives, videos or other gold coins.
  • Aim for five-minute read times with newsletters.

Analytics Tools to Try

Leveraging Market Research

By Amy Jones

Research is an invaluable tool for brands or media organizations, but it’s important to know the right way to find and use it. To help navigate the ins and outs of market research, the team from Kynetec, a global leader in agriculture and animal health market research, presented best practices at the 2019 TOCA Annual Meeting.

Liz Vickerman and Kim Meyer

According to Kynetec market research specialists Liz Vickerman and Kim Meyer, there are two primary sources of data: secondary research developed by an outside company and research compiled by yourself using a variety of tools.

Secondary research is great, as it takes away the work of surveying people and analyzing data. Additionally, as many organizations and companies produce research studies, it is often easy to find and use data, as long as you are providing the necessary credit.

There are several resources that can be used to uncover secondary research:

  • Google Trends
  • Google Scholar
  • State of the industry reports
  • Organizations (e.g., National Golf Foundation, U.S. Department of Agriculture)

However, depending on the topic, secondary research may not be available. In that case, it might be time to move forward with your own market research. Before spending time, money or resources researching a topic, you should ascertain what you are trying to uncover.

To shape the research process, ask these questions:

  1. What is your objective?
  2. What is your audience/target?
  3. What is your current assumption/belief?
  4. Who needs to be involved in the research process (e.g., key stakeholders)?
  5. When do you need the information and when will the information’s usefulness expire?
  6. What will you do with the results?

Answers to the above questions will help provide clear direction and ensure you are getting the right information.


Liz Vickerman and Kim Meyer

Countless tools and resources can make the process of gathering research as simple or complex as you desire. Examples include self-serve survey software, sentiment analysis using an artificial intelligence platform, and online qualitative platforms.

Additionally, a vast variety of people, including agency partners, can offer a database of targeted resources, creative partners, trade show attendees and research suppliers that can provide their specific research expertise.

To proceed with a research project, consider several factors:

  • How much research do you need? Maybe your project just requires input from a few people, versus a massive polling of thousands of people. But if you are compiling research for a product launch, you should take in more information, as relying on one person’s opinion could have disastrous results.
  • How important is the question you are trying to answer? As mentioned above, a major product launch requires a lot of research, whereas choosing a tie color requires less input.
  • What is your budget? The budget drastically impacts the level of research. Depending on the importance of the question, you may need to provide more resources.
  • How complex is the research? This is determined by how much data you need and how you need the data to be analyzed – possibly requiring an outside company with more experience.
  • Where are you in the product’s life cycle? Different types of research make more sense, depending on stage of development. A supplier can help you determine the different types of research needed.

Several types of research that can be used, depending on what you are hoping to learn or uncover. A few options include:

  • Market exploration: Allows you to obtain information about the market, which is especially useful when exploring a new, unfamiliar market.
  • Market segmentation: Helps to define key target markets and determine the best strategy for each segment.
  • New product concept assessment: Assesses reactions to a new concept, including the likelihood of use and general price acceptance.
  • Ad concept or campaign testing: Evaluates several concepts or campaigns and determines the effectiveness of numerous diagnostics.
  • Pricing research: Assesses sales, profitability and elasticity at different pricing levels
  • Customer journey: Maps the path to purchase and helps with understanding touch points the target audience experiences with a brand.

Market research is an invaluable tool that can strengthen product launches, enhance articles or content, and help determine the right way to speak to a specific audience. However, it is critical to correctly conduct market research to ensure you are finding the right information. If not, the result can be wasted time and money.