TOCA Talk – Winter 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 Scott Hollister, TOCA Board President

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” – Michael Corleone

Find out why Scott Hollister is back at the helm, and his hot take on the Godfather series of movies. Spoiler alert: “The Godfather, Part II” is the best film in the series.”

Read on… 

TOCA Annual Meeting Preview

Plans Continue for TOCA’s 30th Annual Meeting in Charlotte

TOCA’s 30th annual meeting is just four months away and the program committee is diligently putting the final touches on a meeting you won’t want to miss.

As stated in a previous issue of TOCA Talk, Carolina brings award-winning singer/songwriter James Taylor to mind – or is that “Carolina In My Mind”?

In my mind I’m going to Carolina.
Can’t you see the sunshine, can’t you just feel the moonshine?
Ain’t it just like a friend of mine to hit me from behind?
Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.

Take a look at the meeting details and find why Carolina should be on your mind in May!

Golf Industry Show

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association invites you and your colleagues to breakfast! Start your day with a hearty breakfast and networking with fellow communications professionals.

TOCA BREAKFAST at GIS
Sponsored by FMC and Jacobsen. Room provided by GCSAA
Wednesday, February 6
7:00 – 8:00 a.m.
San Diego Convention Center
Room 16AB
RSVP here. All are welcome!

Everyone in attendance will be eligible to win a free registration to the 30th annual TOCA meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina – April 30-May 2, 2019.

This breakfast is generously sponsored by FMC, Jacobsen and GCSAA/Golf Course Management Magazine.

Contact Kristy Mach, kristymach@gandgcomm.com or 952-843-3108, with questions.

Check out other upcoming TOCA events here.

TOCA FOUNDATION NEWS

TOCA Offers $2,500 Scholarship

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) Foundation urges college undergraduate students pursuing a career in green industry communications to apply for its $2,500 scholarship. Potential careers include working for trade publications, newsletters or companies/marketing agencies that promote the golf course, lawn and landscape, sod and nursery/greenhouse, sports turf or maintenance industries.

The TOCA scholarship application and supplemental materials must be combined within one PDF file and sent via e-mail by March 15, 2019. Click here for TOCA scholarship instructions and requirements.

Nominate Worthy Individuals for Environmental Communicator of the Year

It’s time to nominate qualified green industry professionals for the Environmental Communicator of the Year award. Sponsored by Project EverGreen, this award may be given to anyone in recognition of outstanding efforts in communicating the benefits of environmental stewardship to a particular industry audience. Nominations are due March 1. To learn more about this prestigious award, click here.

TOCA COMMUNICATIONS CONTEST 
Gardner Awards Q&A

‘When the Creek Rises’

Gardner Award Winner for Writing – Publishing Series – Two or more articles Golf Course Industry

Syngenta Divanem Nematicide Launch

Gardner Award Winner for Special Projects

Rain Bird’s ‘Defend Your Turf’

Gardner Award Winner for Photography, Video and Multi-Media – Marketing Communications – Best Short Video/DVD

National Aerate Your Lawn Day Campaign

Gardner Award Winner for New Media – Marketing Communications
Websites

Winter Running Tips

Most of this article will deal with running in northern states – where there is snow on the ground and roadways. Wintertime running can be invigorating as long as you prepare appropriately and be safe. If you live in warmer climates, just skip my column this month. Ha!

Special running correspondent, Dan Gardner, provides winter running tips – and a challenge! 

BIGGA Launches BTME Digital Media Centre

Large exhibitions by their very nature take up a large amount of resources. Bringing people together from all over Europe is no small feat, but the golf industry is making strides toward sustainability and we’re keen on leading that charge. Find out how two TOCA members worked together to launch the BTME DIgital Media Centre. 

TOCA MEMBER PROFILE

Introducing Scott Covelli
by Britney Riggs, Xylem Marketing

Scott Covelli is public relations supervisor for EPIC Creative, based in West Bend, Wis. He was recently elected to the TOCA board of directors and serves on the TOCA Professional Development Committee.

Find out what makes Scott tick and why he says TOCA helps him do his job better.

TOCA Membership Renewal for 2019

By Kyle Wieskus, Membership Director

Thank you for being a TOCA member and supporting TOCA during 2018!

We were pleased with membership growth in 2018, as many companies took advantage of the TOCA Young Professionals Program (YP); that program boosted membership numbers. Of course, we look forward to seeing continued membership growth in 2019 and this happens through all of us. TOCA’s value proposition of professional development, camaraderie/networking with industry peers, and recognition of outstanding communications work makes TOCA what we believe is your number one association membership for 2019!

It is time to renew your TOCA membership. There are three ways you can renew your membership:


Option 1: Renew online

Please login into your TOCA membership account (https://www.toca.org/membership-login).

Once logged into your account, you can renew your dues online by clicking on the “Renew my Dues” link. Reminder: The TOCA website was upgraded last year, which means all members must login and pay individually. “Group ID numbers” no longer exist. Please select dues level from the drop-down menu.

Option 2: Mail payment to the TOCA office

Membership is $140 for the first member and $90 for each additional member. Mail to: 605 Columbus Ave. S, New Prague, MN 56071

Option 3: Call the TOCA office at 952-758-6340 to pay by credit card over the phone

TOCA continues to offer its YP Program. With every two paid memberships from an organization, you receive one FREE YP membership! (YP must be 35 years old or younger).

TOCA membership, compared with other organizations, is a tremendous bargain. It’s only $140 per year for the first member and $90 for the second and all subsequent members. Now, with the Free YP program – you can get three memberships for only $230! Please contact Membership Director Kyle Wieskus at kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com to take advantage of the YP program.

Please don’t hesitate to call the TOCA office with any questions about your membership. Or, e-mail Kyle at kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com.

We look forward to having you on board again in 2019!

GIE Horticultural Group 2018 Media Kit – Gardner Award Winner

Gardner Award Winner for Design – Publishing
Overall Media Kit Design
GIE Horticultural Group

by Dawn Rigby

We asked Irene Sweeney, marketing director, GIE Media, Inc., the following questions about the GIE Horticultural Group 2018 Media Kit.

Please briefly describe your winning project.

The GIE Horticultural Group 2018 Media kit is a combined positioning piece for the six titles within this segment of the companies. In addition to providing an overview of the focus and strength of each publication, the kit provides the latest multi-platform circulation reach for each title, editorial calendar and rates.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

Our main objective in the combined media kit was highlighting the individual strength of each title, while also conveying the power a publication group that spans the entire horticulture industry (from breeder, to grower, to retailer) offers to both readers and advertisers.

What influenced your approach?

While writing the content of the media kit, it occurred to me that each title and its strength could be defined by one word. Those words kept swirling around in my head to the point where I thought, wouldn’t all those words put together make an incredibly powerful statement on their own! I sketched out the cover idea for my design team and they took it from there.

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

The finished piece is an example of exactly what GIE Media is known for: award-winning content and design. We put as much effort into everything we produce – including this media kit – as we do our magazines and that is what makes it stand out from the rest.

‘Down But Not Out’

Gardner Award Winner – Publishing

Photography, Video and Multimedia
Golf Course Management magazine

by Britney Riggs

We asked Scott Hollister, editor-In-chief of Golf Course Management magazine, the following questions about the winning photography entry, “November GCM – Down But Not Out.”

Please briefly describe the winning entry. 

This image served as the lead photo for a feature story on a golf course superintendent who had suffered a serious head injury while on the job, his long road to recovery and the impact the injury had on his life and career.

What were the main objectives in developing this entry? 

Our primary goal was to get an image that put the focus on the subject of the story (and its author) but also tied the important role of the golf course in his recovery. We are very fortunate as a golf course publication to have some spectacular backdrops for photos, such as this one. And this photo of Brian Youell didn’t disappoint.

What influenced your approach? 

Brian had written previously for us about his experiences and this story was a follow-up to that one. Since the original story, he had made great progress in his recovery, had fully returned to work and had begun to share his story with others facing recoveries from head injuries. So, imagery that alluded to all of that was important to us.

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

I would hope it was because judges felt the finished product from the photographer, Chad Hipolito, delivered on the objectives we set out when planning this shoot. Hopefully, the ball in the bunker and the metaphorical tie to all that Brian Youell had been through in his life and career came through, as well. It didn’t hurt that the image had Brian in a triumphant position, rising above that ball in the bunker, and by extension, all that the head injury had brought his way.

A New Dawn: Dawn Rigby Joins TOCA Board

by Scott Covelli
EPIC Creative

Dawn Rigby is the marketing manager for Xylem Marketing (the marketing services division of Advanced Turf Solutions), based in Fishers, Ind. She recently added to her resumé by being elected to the TOCA board of directors, where she serves on the Professional Development committee. Read on to learn more about what makes Dawn shine in and out of the industry.

How did you originally get involved in the turf industry?

I was introduced to the industry when I joined Advanced Turf Solutions as a marketing coordinator in 2012. I was 25, relocating to the Indianapolis area from a different city, and open to any career opportunity that would allow me to learn and become a better marketer. I didn’t know much about the green industry, but I knew right away that Advanced Turf Solutions – with its employee-owned business model, entrepreneurial culture and passionate employees – was the opportunity I was seeking.

The company has grown a great deal since then and I have been fortunate enough to grow with it. Today, I’m the director of marketing for Advanced Turf Solutions and I lead the company’s marketing services division, Xylem Marketing.

What do you like best about TOCA?

I joined TOCA to pursue professional development opportunities within the green industry, but I got involved on committees and joined the board because of the people. For me, TOCA has been this amazing network of green industry communication experts who are there to support each other. It’s a community.

TOCA members are friendly, creative and a little quirky. They are passionate about our industry and they use their talents to elevate it. These are my people.

TOCA provides excellent professional development resources, too! The TOCA annual meetings offer in-depth writing workshops, panel discussions featuring industry experts and opportunities for idea sharing and networking.

What is your role at Xylem Marketing and what’s your favorite part of your job?
In 2017, we launched Xylem Marketing as a marketing services division of Advanced Turf Solutions. I am the managing director of Xylem Marketing and I love my job – especially working with my team, our clients and our partners in the green industry. My favorite part is contributing to the growth of a business or creating something new. When you can realize the success of a project and witness the results of your team’s efforts, that is a great feeling.

What’s a secret hobby or passion you have that not many people know?

I’m a minimalist. It’s not really a hobby, but I have grown rather passionate about it. Minimalism is about making room for what’s important by getting rid of what isn’t. I have always appreciated minimalist design, but my husband introduced me to the concept of minimalism as a lifestyle. With less “stuff,” we actually end up with more – more time, more money and more freedom.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Stay curious, try new things and fail fast. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work for leaders who gave me the freedom to experiment and empowered me to think of creative new ways to achieve success. But, not every new idea will result in success. The trick is to figure that out quickly. Failing fast means remaining agile. Develop new ideas incrementally an test them early. And if they don’t work, pivot and move on.

TurfNet to Host TOCA Intern in Ireland this Summer

By Jon Kiger, TurfNet

For the ninth year TurfNet will send a US-based turf student to Europe to work on a golf course, blog for TurfNet, and for the fourth year to represent TOCA as the media intern. Adam Galigher from Horry Georgetown Technical College in Myrtle Beach will spend the summer at historic Portmarnock Golf Club outside of Dublin, Ireland.

This is our first time at Portmarnock and our second time in the immediate Dublin area. It will be an historic summer for Adam and the crew at Portmarnock as they will host the R & A’s Amateur Championship (some refer to it as the British Amateur) in June. The qualifying rounds will also take place at The Island Golf Club in nearby Donabate. The Island Golf Club hosted Marty Richardson – the TurfNet/TOCA intern in 2017.

Galigher, 25 already has a music degree and is from Overland Park, KS. He has several seasons of experience working on a golf course and is roughly halfway through the program at Horry Georgetown. This is our second student from Horry Georgetown – Parker Stancil spent the summer in Denmark at Great Northern Golf.

In addition to serving on the regular crew, helping to host The Amateur Championship, and blogging for TurfNet, Adam has been approved to spend a week in Lahinch in County Clare as a volunteer for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch Golf Club.

I asked Adam a few questions that will help TOCA members get to know him better….

  1. What drew you into studying golf course maintenance?

I started working on a golf course about 3 years ago and fell in love with the work. There’s something truly special about being out on a quiet golf course while the sun slowly rises. I decided to go back to school and study turf management when I moved from Kansas to Myrtle Beach to be closer to family. I got a job at Myrtle Beach National and within days the superintendent, an alumnus of the Horry Georgetown program sold me on pursuing turf management as a career. Now that I’ve finished my first semester of the program at HGTC my desire to make a successful career out of working in this industry has only been strengthened.

  1. What are you looking forward to about Ireland?

The TurfNet internship in Ireland will be my first experience outside the United States. Through my network of friends and great mentors I’ve heard fantastic things about the country. I’m excited to experience true Irish golf links during my stay at Portmarnock. The culture will be much different to anything I’m used to. Whether it will be regular day to day experiences or how golf courses are managed, it will be interesting to see the differences. Enjoying the natural scenery of Ireland will be one of my top pursuits during whatever free time I may have. As an avid hiker I’m looking forward to exploring the area around Portmarnock and other parts of Ireland. It will also be a great experience to develop my communications skills while blogging for TurfNet and representing TOCA.

  1. Where are you from and what is your background?

I grew up in Overland Park, Kansas. Through grade school my greatest passion was music. Playing the double bass (upright bass) provided me with a very detail-oriented mindset as well as being goal driven. Through much hard work I was able to secure a full scholarship to study music performance at the University of Kansas. My experiences at KU have helped me greatly in finding success in turf management so far.

Adam plans to attend the TOCA meeting in Charlotte as he will already be in town volunteering at Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo event there. He looks forward to meeting everyone there and representing both TOCA and TurfNet this summer.

Syngenta Divanem Nematicide Launch

Gardner Award Winner for Special Projects — Marketing Series — Two or more articles
by Jill Odom

We asked Mark LaFleur, communications lead for Turf and Ornamental, Syngenta, the following questions about the Divanem nematicide launch.

Please briefly describe your winning project.

Syngenta and its agencies were awarded a Gardner award for the launch of Divanem® nematicide. The launch included print and digital advertising, news releases, a media tour of trials conducted during the 2017 Golf Industry Show, videos, customer testimonials, targeted e-mail communications, new webpage, soil sampling kits, social media support and a pay-per-click campaign.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

Our launch of Divanem was really a two-pronged approach. Clearly, we wanted to create brand awareness of Divanem among golf course superintendents. That said, we wanted to take it one step further to educate superintendents about nematodes. So, we developed a comprehensive campaign that created awareness and educated.

What influenced your approach?

The approach we take to launching products is about more than selling a product. It is about providing a solution to a problem. We could have simply developed a print ad, sell sheet, product page and called it a day. But as the industry has transitioned cultural practices that are favorable to nematodes, we realized there was an information gap.

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

Ultimately, I think the fact that our campaign was so comprehensive and took several different approaches is what made our campaign stick out. Including things like a nematode sampling kit with information on how to take the samples and where to send them were quite unique. One other element that may have stuck out to the judges is the fact that many of our metrics for the campaign exceeded industry standards.

Project EverGreen to Host TOCA Intern

By Cindy Code
Project EverGreen

 

Non-profit Project EverGreen is pleased to once again host the 2019 TOCA marketing communications intern. Internships are a great way for students to learn more about a particular career focus and gain hands-on professional experience to get them ready for their post-graduation careers.

Last year’s TOCA intern – Kayla Kingston – is now a junior at the University of Dayton and is interning in Washington D.C. this summer with the DC Flyers program. She is studying communications and is scheduled to graduate in May 2020.

The second-year marketing communications internship is funded through the TOCA Foundation by Den and Sandy Gardner (Gardner & Gardner Communications, New Prague, Minn.) and Dave Hansen (Partner/CEO of Swanson Russell, a marketing communications firm based in Lincoln, Neb.).

“Project EverGreen is thrilled to host the TOCA marketing intern,” said Cindy Code of Project EverGreen. “Our intern will have the opportunity to contribute to all of our marketing communications efforts to promote our key initiatives and to grow our social media presence. We’re grateful to Den and Sandy (Gardner) and Dave (Hansen) for making this internship available.”

Project EverGreen is a national non-profit that works to create healthy yards, parks and public green spaces in urban areas in need. It also created and manages the GreenCare for Troops and SnowCare for Troops programs that provide free lawn, landscape and snow removal services for families of actively deployed military members.

The summer internship will include opportunities to write stories and profiles for the Project EverGreen website, travel to various communities to work on park projects, work on various social media platforms, participate in committee meetings, attend a trade show and learn about working for a non-profit.

Third Annual TOCA Silent Auction

Our TOCA Annual Meeting in Charlotte, N.C., is fast approaching! At the meeting we will hold our Third Annual Silent Auction to support the TOCA Foundation. Last year’s auction was incredibly successful; we raised almost $5,000 for the TOCA Foundation. Please consider donating this year.

Items receiving high bids last year were Yeti coolers and tumblers, food and drink gift sets, and not ONE, but TWO weeks at Den and Sandy Gardner’s beautiful Florida home! Den and Sandy generously added a second week for a second bidder as this auction item gathered a lot of well-deserved traffic. Gift cards and techie gifts also did well.

We are looking for items in the $50 to $200 range. If you don’t have an item, we ask you to contribute $50 and TOCA will find an item for the auction.

Here are some items that have done very well in the past:

  • Yeti cooler
  • Go-Pro Hero
  • Nespresso machine
  • Powerbeats wireless earphones
  • Wireless speaker
  • Jewelry – trio of bracelets
  • Food and adult beverage baskets

Some other donation ideas

  • School spirit baskets
  • Sports memorabilia
  • Foodie baskets – non-perishables, please! Perhaps, pair with a gift certificate.
  • Event tickets for a college or pro sports team
  • And of course, cash donations are appreciated. We can do the shopping for you!

Many thanks to all the donors and to the bid winners who help make this auction a success each year! All donations will be available for bid during the Wednesday evening reception and Thursday lunch during the TOCA Annual Meeting. Our goal is to obtain at least 20 donated items. (Remember, if you wouldn’t bid on it, no one else will either).

Have an idea? Need help with an idea? Feel free to reach out to Kyle (kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com) or Kristy (kristymach@gandgcomm.com).

Get Ready for Spring Running!

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

For those of us who live in melting snow-weather states, running regularly in the spring is sometimes as much a challenge as running in winter. There are numerous running publications that can help you “survive” the wet surfaces. To save you some research time, here are some quick tips from running ace and personal trainer Ashley Crossman:

  1. If your running regimen was light for the winter, ramp up your miles very slowly – 10 percent, at most, each week.
  2. Be sure your shoes are ready for the spring and if not, buy yourself a new pair. You should replace your shoes every 300-500 miles. (Seriously, who runs that much a year. Just kidding!)
  3. Work toward a goal. If you are new to this running thing, try running for 20 minutes without stopping.
  4. Make sure you have proper gear, including a water-resistant jacket. Springs can result in very wet running surfaces.
  5. If you have seasonal allergies, consider running indoors until the allergy season dissipates.

For those new at the running game and needing a pair of running shoes, don’t try to do this solo. Go to a running specialty store and have an expert salesperson fit you. This is a must because that person will determine what type of foot you have and then get you into the proper type of shoe.

For those of you into running half marathons, here are some spring runs in the United States: Pride Run Phoenix Half Marathon, 10K & 5K, Phoenix, March 23; Salt Lake City Half Marathon, Salt Lake City, April 13; Flying Pirate Half Marathon, Kitty Hawk, N.C., April 14; New Prague Half Marathon, New Prague, Minn., May 4 (I’ll be running in this again – well, maybe NOT); Maine Coast Half Marathon, Biddeford, Maine, May 11; and Grandma’s Half Marathon, Duluth, Minn., June 22.

Finally, as always, be thinking while you run/walk about all the ways to make TOCA the best membership association it can be and planning your trip to Charlotte, N.C., for the annual meeting. And don’t forget to sign up for the 5K fun run/walk in Charlotte. That’s one of many ways YOU play a part in making TOCA the best it can be! Get or stay involved. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA! (Katie Beth Groover of Nufarm – I owe you one in Charlotte!)

 

Registration Open for TOCA’s 30th Annual Meeting in Charlotte

By Den Gardner
Executive Director

Registration is now open for TOCA’s 30th Annual Meeting in Charlotte, N.C., from April 30 through May 2.

As I did in the last issue of TOCA Talk, with “Carolina In My Mind,” let’s ponder the lyrics below and enjoy the link to one of James Taylor’s all-time greatest hits!

In my mind I’m gone to Carolina.

Can’t you see the sunshine?

Can’t you just feel the moonshine?

Ain’t it just like a friend of mine to hit me from behind?

Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.

This is TOCA’s fourth trip to the Carolinas. TOCA did its meeting in Raleigh, N.C., in 1994 (home of the infamous golf course described by former TOCA President Ron Smith as “vegetatively challenged”), went back to Asheville, N.C., in 2011, with a trip in between in 2003 in Charleston, S.C.

The new Embassy Suites Uptown Charlotte is the location of this year’s meeting. With plenty of TOCA members in the state, attendees can count on a special event, with professional development geared to today’s green industry communicators, with a smattering of indoor and outdoor events that may hold a surprise or two for all.

TOCA has settled into a familiar and likable format the past several years. This year there are a couple tweaks/twists to the format. That means:

  • Board meeting Tuesday, April 30, in the afternoon.
  • The evening informal gathering of all TOCA members and the “newbie/first timers” event will be held again, but the dinner that follows will include everyone who wants to join an evening of mingling at a restaurant, which is still being determined. Regardless, any TOCA member, the board and the “newbies” will dine together.
  • On Wednesday morning, we will continue our current format as we recognize our Environmental Communicator of the Year (sponsored by Project EverGreen) and our intern.
  • The remainder of the morning will be a workshop titled, “Interview Tips & Tales from the Press Box: Lessons on Becoming Professional-Grade Curious,” featuring Mick Mixon, play-by-play announcer for the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers. In addition to 40 years of experience as a sports announcer, Mixon has taught classes for the University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism and Wake Forest University School of Business. He won a regional Emmy in 2008 and was named North Carolina Sportscaster of the Year three times.
  • Wednesday afternoon will also be a new twist as ALL members interested will be treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. The official tournament start is Thursday and TOCA members will get a look at course preparations by the staff at Quail Hollow. There is no golf tournament this year.
  • Our opening night reception Wednesday evening promises to highlight all that TOCA and Charlotte have to offer the attendees.
  • Thursday is a full day, which includes our keynote speaker, workshops/seminars, the important business meeting and the evening awards banquet, which recognizes the best in TOCA communications. Also, TOCA will induct an outstanding member into the TOCA Hall of Fame.

Wednesday Tour at Quail Hollow

Scott Hollister of Golf Course Superintendents Association of America has been working diligently with Keith Wood and Shane Ormann from Quail Hollow on the TOCA field trip. “They were excited about the prospect of having us there and are very willing to work with us in any way we need to make this a success,” said Hollister.

The tentative agenda is below.

  • Noon-12:30 p.m. — Travel to Quail Hollow (this will likely be by bus)
  • 12:30-12:45 p.m. — Get badges, go through security, etc.
  • 12:45-1:15 p.m. — Tour of media center with Lee Patterson
  • 1:15-1:30 p.m. — Walk/carts to maintenance facility
  • 1:30-2:30 p.m. — Presentations with Keith, PGA Tour Agronomy, etc.
  • 2:30-3:00 p.m. — Tour of maintenance facility
  • 3:00-5:00 p.m. — Free time on the golf course
  • 5:00-5:30 p.m. — Travel to Embassy Suites

People will be free to head back to the hotel after the main tour is over about 3 p.m. There are busses running from the hotels to the golf course during this time. People can return at their leisure.

Ren LaForme returns

We are thrilled to announce that our keynote speaker Ren LaForme returns this year after getting rave reviews last year in Cincinnati. LaForme, digital tools reporter, the Poynter Institute, wowed the crowd last year with his presentation on new digital tools.

“I’m finishing part two for my main digital tools presentation,” LaForme told us. “I’m planning to split that new work into its own session and dig deep into how to take advantage of those great, new technologies.”

It’s also likely LaForme will dig into metrics because, as he says, “Metrics matter in that they give us the feedback that we need to make our work better (and keep our companies/clients/associations, etc., happy).”

LaForme will likely speak on two overarching types of analytics information and what you can learn about your work and your audiences from each. “Then, we’ll cover how you can improve them and ‘easy wins’ to try right now,” he said.” Then, we’ll go beyond website metrics and talk about information you can learn from social media and elsewhere.” 

Panel on branded content/native advertising

The Thursday afternoon panel will represent experts from legal to media to marketing, as this method to reach audiences continues to be popular amid some controversies to be explored by the panel.

Confirmed panelists include two business-to-business media experts, representing a national ag media company and a public relations (PR) guru known well to TOCA members. Our publishing portion of the panel will be handled by Gregg Hillyer (an editorial director in St. Louis) and Sheri Seger (an advertising director in Chicago) from DTN/The Progressive Farmer. Our PR expert will be McGavock Edwards, strategic communications director for Eckel & Vaughan, Raleigh, N.C. McGavock is a past TOCA board president (many years ago) but has mostly been out of the Green Industry the past few years. Most recently, she is back doing some senior consulting for a new turf and ornamental equipment company client at Eckel & Vaughan.

Market research

The need for affordable, yet effective market research continues to be of key importance to TOCA members. To that end, a market research session that will focus on conducting this important work on a reasonable budget will be led by Kim Meyer, Kynetec.

TOCA strategic plan

As you know, TOCA is now 30 years old. The board, through phone interviews, a survey to all members and a two-day strategic plan workshop, is ready to provide members with a look at what the next several years will look like for the organization as it transitions for the future.

This will be conducted during the business meeting at the end of the day Thursday.

The TOCA Program Committee – Scott Hollister, Mark LaFleur, Lyndsey Newnam, Amy Jones, Pat Morrow, Cindy Code, Russ Warner and staff – is to be commended for its work on this year’s program.

TOCA also thanks G&S Business Communications in Raleigh, which has stepped up to handle the theme for 2019 and the awards program.

Finally, we also remind TOCA members about the TOCA Foundation Silent Auction. The first year we brought in $4,000 and last year that amount increased to $5,000. The foundation is used to fund our youth programs, such as scholarships and internships.

All members are encouraged to donate an item for the auction. Contact Kyle Wieskus at kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com for more information. Pat Morrow of Bayer (patricia.morrow@bayer.com) is the volunteer chair. Or, go to the TOCA website at www.toca.org and link to the silent auction forms.

See you soon in Charlotte!

The President’s Corner

By Scott Hollister, TOCA Board President

For those of us who have been a part of TOCA for more than a few years, the fact that the upcoming annual meeting in Charlotte, N.C., April 30-May 2, will be the organization’s 30th such gathering is pretty hard to fathom.

The organization’s first annual meeting in 1989 drew just 17 attendees to Atlanta. There were no guarantees that TOCA would even make it to annual meeting No. 2, but here we sit three decades later.

We have the gold standard for communications-focused professional development events in the green industry. We have an overall membership that has grown well north of 200. We have a communications contest that routinely attracts more than 400 entries. We’re sound financially, have a dedicated executive management company in Gardner & Gardner Communications, and have an involved and invested board of directors.

So, yeah, there is plenty to celebrate as we head to the Queen City for our 30th annual meeting. But as healthy as I believe it is to reflect on past successes, doing that at the expense of examining where you are currently and where you’re headed is a recipe for trouble.

That’s why I was so encouraged by the results of a strategic planning meeting that took place in late February in Fort Myers, Fla. Led by consultant Steve Drake, the meeting brought together many members of TOCA’s board of directors and management staff to look ahead, set organizational goals and determine the best path to reach those goals.

I won’t go into too many details about the outcomes of that meeting. Those who attend the annual business meeting in Charlotte will get a full debrief. But I will tell you that the same ethos that has guided TOCA for the past 30 years – a desire to come together to network, refine our professional skills and celebrate the work that we all do – was front and center during these meetings and will remain key in ensuring that we all achieve what we set out to do during the strategic planning meeting.

We talked about increased educational opportunities for our members. We talked about using technology more efficiently and more consistently. And we talked about making sure our flagship event, the annual meeting, doesn’t rest on its laurels and continues to innovate and improve. We also are cognizant of meeting the needs of our new members, many young professionals whose needs may not match those who met in Atlanta 30 years ago.

For those heading to Charlotte, you’ll find we didn’t wait for the strategic plan to put that last one into place, with plenty of new offerings and special opportunities. Those tweaks will be most notable on Wednesday afternoon, as we combine two traditional offerings – our golf outing and our informational tour – into one great new event.

Our visit to Charlotte happens to correspond with the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club. We decided we couldn’t pass up this unique opportunity and will be combining golf (no, we’re not playing in the tournament) and the tour for a special behind-the-scenes visit to Quail Hollow. We’ll visit with Superintendent Keith Wood and PGA Tour agronomy team members, get an idea of what goes into preparations for a professional golf event, tour both the maintenance facility and the media center, and have a little time to walk the grounds and watch a little golf (for those inclined to stay past the official activities).

Consider it a sneak preview into what will come out of our strategic planning efforts and just another example of TOCA working to meet your expectations and make your membership experience that much better.

The years ahead hold much promise for you personally and professionally as a TOCA member. Use this year’s meeting to make your commitment to get involved in a committee, enter the contest (deadline coming soon) and get the most out of the professional development offered to you.

Our first TOCA President Jerry Roche said 30 years ago, when TOCA was organized, “How on earth are we going to get people who compete with each other every day to work together as an effective professional organization?”

Five years ago, when he was inducted into the TOCA Hall of Fame, he saw first-hand what did happen when those people got together. We are all eager to continue for the next 30 years what Roche and others started in the late 1980s. We want you to be part of that effort as we work to be relevant in your professional lives. See you in Charlotte!

Washington Association of Landscape Professionals

Northwest Landscape Professional is the official magazine of WALP. With over 1,500 copies distributed with each publication it reaches every member plus a broad number of industry professionals on a quarterly basis, offering companies a unique opportunity to target the Landscape Industry throughout Washington State. The Magazine is published March, June (annual directory issue), September and December (annual conference issue). Maximize your visibility by cross-promoting your print ads on WALP’s digital platforms – the WALP website and WALP’s enewsletter, WALP Wednesday. Check out their content and advertising opportunities.

Contact Peter Dervin at peter@walp.org or call 360-350-4464.

Digital & Social Media Consultant

Gardner & Gardner Communications, an association management group, seeks an experienced digital and social media consultant to develop and execute digital and social media strategy for association clients.

Will turn needs into a strategy and then execute high value social media campaigns. You will be directly responsible for measuring social media effectiveness for creating brand awareness for up to six member associations.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Experience in the creation and deployment of global social media strategies.
  • Experience with Social Media Management tools and platforms
  • Knowledge of audience management through social media platforms.
  • Well organized demeanor and willingness to prioritize and share plans.
  • Ability to think about social media beyond brand impact and think about customer journey and engagement.
  • Experience with WordPress websites.
  • Thinks about metrics and can demonstrate impact of strategy with platform analytics and Google Analytics.
  • Performs additional duties as assigned.

QUALIFICATIONS

Education and Experience:

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in public relations, marketing or a related field. Must be a self-starter and be able to work independently. Knowledge of agriculture is preferred, but not required. Must have at least 2-5 years’ experience with digital and social media, has an eagerness to try innovative things and is not afraid to take risks to communicate to our audiences. Must be able to work in a fast pace environment, multi task, and have good communication skills, both verbally and in writing.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Knowledge of Hootsuite or other Social Media Management tools.
  • Knowledge of WordPress and Divi builder.
  • Knowledge of Google Analytics.
  • Knowledge of content deployment requirements for social channels.
  • Skills in establishing effective interpersonal relationships such as the ability to solicit key ideas and information.
  • Skills in planning, organizing, time management and multi-tasking.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills including writing skills.
  • Ability to plan, organize and multi-task to complete assignments in an efficient manner.
  • Ability to pay attention to details and perform at a high-level accuracy.

Gardner & Gardner Communications serves for four national/international dairy membership associations and two communications associations in agriculture/green industry. This consultant would provide services to those associations. Estimated hours per week is 20-30 hours.

Please contact Den Gardner (dengardner@gandgcomm.com) and/or Kristy Mach (kristymach@gandgcomm.com) with any questions. Send resume and fee requirements by March 1, 2019.

Plans Continue for TOCA’s 30th Annual Meeting in Charlotte

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

TOCA’s 30th annual meeting is just four months away and the program committee is diligently putting the final touches on a meeting you won’t want to miss.

As I stated in our previous issue of TOCA Talk, Carolina brings award-winning singer/songwriter James Taylor to mind – or is that “Carolina In My Mind”?

In my mind I’m going to Carolina.
Can’t you see the sunshine, can’t you just feel the moonshine?
Ain’t it just like a friend of mine to hit me from behind?
Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.

It’s our fourth meeting in 30 years in the Carolinas, having done our meeting in Raleigh, N.C., in 1994 (home of the infamous golf course described by former TOCA President Ron Smith as “vegetatively challenged”), went back to Asheville, N.C., in 2011, with a trip in between to Charleston, S.C., in 2003.

Embassy Suites Charlotte Uptown

So, mark your calendars for April 30 through May 2, at the new Embassy Suites Uptown Charlotte, N.C. Charlotte is one of America’s fastest-growing cities. With plenty of TOCA members in the state, attendees can count on a special event, with professional development geared to today’s green industry communicators, with a smattering of indoor and outdoor events that may hold a surprise or two for all.

We are thrilled to announce that our keynote speaker Ren LaForme returns this year after getting rave reviews last year in Cincinnati. LaForme, Poynter Institute digital tools reporter, wowed the crowd last year with his presentation on new digital tools.

Ren LaForme, Digital Tools Reporter, Poynter Institute

“I’m working on a part two for my main digital tools presentation as we speak,” LaForme told us recently. “I’m planning to split that new work into its own session and dig deep into how to take advantage of those great, new technologies.”

It’s also likely LaForme will dig into metrics because, as he says, “metrics matter in that they give us the feedback we need to make our work better (and keep our companies/clients/associations, etc., happy).”

LaForme will likely speak on two overarching types of analytics information and what you can learn about your work and your audiences from each. “Then, we’ll cover how you can improve them and easy wins to try right now,” he said. “Then, we’ll go beyond website metrics and talk about information you can learn from social media and elsewhere.”

Other key highlights of this year’s meeting include (all are tentative at this point):

  • Behind-the-scenes tour of Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, site of the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship PGA golf tournament. The tournament is scheduled for the week of our meeting and the program committee is working to confirm that special look at the golf course during tournament week and the preparations to make the course ready for the world’s best golfers. This tour would be Wednesday afternoon.
  • Earlier on Wednesday, a seminar on proper interviewing techniques. “Professional-grade Curious,” with Mick Mixon, the play-by-play radio voice announcer for the Carolina Panthers
  • On Thursday, look for a panel on branded content/native advertising. This panel will represent experts from legal to media to marketing, as this method to reach audiences continues to be popular amid some controversies to be explored by the panel.
  • A market research session that will focus on conducting this important work on a reasonable budget.
  • An update on TOCA’s new strategic plan. This will be provided during the all-important business meeting.
  • The traditional awards banquet will conclude this year’s meeting Thursday evening.

The TOCA Program Committee – Scott Hollister, Mark LaFleur, Lyndsey Newnam, Amy Jones, Pat Morrow, Cindy Code, Russ Warner and staff – is also investigating a new format for an informal Tuesday evening dinner for early attendees to join the TOCA board of directors for a meal at a to-be-determined location.

We are thrilled that G&S Business Communications in Raleigh has stepped up to handle the theme for 2019 and awards program.

For those looking at your calendars, a snapshot of this year’s meeting looks like this:

  • Board meeting on Tuesday, April 30, with an evening informal gathering (tentative) of all TOCA members and the “newbie/first-timers” dinner.
  • Wednesday morning will begin the program as we recognize our Environmental Communicator of the Year (sponsored by Project EverGreen), introduce our intern(s) and a workshop to round out the morning.
  • Wednesday afternoon tentatively takes us to Quail Hollow. If this occurs, there will be no golf tournament this year.
  • Our opening night reception on Wednesday evening promises to highlight all that TOCA and Charlotte have to offer its attendees. Location is to be determined.
  • Thursday is a full day with our keynote speaker, workshops/seminars, business meeting and evening awards banquet, which recognizes the best in TOCA communications.

We also remind TOCA members about the TOCA Foundation Silent Auction. The first year we brought in $4,000 and last year that amount reached $5,000. The foundation funds our youth programs, such as our scholarships and intern program. All members are encouraged to donate an item for the auction. Contact Kyle Wieskus at kylewieskus@gandgcomm.com for more information. Pat Morrow of Bayer (patricia.morrow@bayer.com) is the volunteer chair. Or, go to the TOCA website at www.toca.org and link to the silent auction forms.

See you in Charlotte!

Gardner Award Winner for Writing – Publishing Series – Two or more articles

‘When the Creek Rises’

Gardner Award Winner for Writing – Publishing
Series – Two or more articles

Golf Course Industry

by Debbie Clayton

Guy Cipriano

We asked Guy Cipriano, Golf Course Industry magazine senior editor, the following questions about his series “When the Creek Rises.”

Please briefly describe your winning project.

“When the creek rises” was a three-part series about the historic West Virginia flood of 2016 and the ensuing inspirational rebuild of the golf courses at The Greenbrier, a historic resort in the southern part of the state.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

To tell the story of how The Greenbrier’s golf course maintenance team endured a horrific event to meet ambitious deadlines and elevate the morale of an entire region. The Greenbrier is the largest employer in southern West Virginia and golf is a key part of the resort, thus making it a giant economic driver. The teamwork, grit and talent required to rebuild The Old White TPC in time for the PGA Tour’s 2017 Greenbrier Classic helped the region recover from a natural disaster that didn’t receive significant national media coverage. At Golf Course Industry, we try to tell stories that inspire and help others in the golf business. Learning the plight of The Greenbrier team helped many of our readers put their own problems into perspective.

What influenced your approach?

The people. The more time I spent in West Virginia, the more I realized this story extended beyond golf course maintenance or construction. Everybody in Greenbrier County seemed to know somebody who lost a family member, friend or acquaintance in the flood. One member of The Greenbrier team lost a family member. Others lost their homes. Despite these losses, they all returned to their jobs and worked long hours to rebuild the golf courses. Not one person told me they considered leaving their job or the region following the flood. This series was about those people. They shared their story with a stranger, which isn’t easy to do. They also provided incredible access, despite overwhelming workloads. I’ll be forever grateful for the relationships established while working on this series.

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

The human side of it. We sometimes focus so much on technical, agronomic and product stories that we forget about the people in the golf, lawn and sports turf businesses. And when we do write about people, we focus on key decision makers, such as golf course superintendents, landscape contractors and sports turf managers. General crew members, many who execute terrific work in anonymity, proved to be compelling subjects because of their loyalty to the resort and region.

We were fortunate to have a tremendous partner in John Deere, which believed in the power of telling an inspirational people story to the golf industry. Our Golf Course Industry team made the series stand out and they provided me with the resources to spend as much time in West Virginia as I needed. The Hampton Inn in Lewisburg, W.V., developed into a second home; The Wild Bean became a second office; and John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” ascended to the top of my playlist. There might only be one name on the byline, but Jim Blayney, Pat Jones, Russ Warner and Mike Zawacki deserve an equal amount of credit for this project’s success.

Gardner Award Winner for Special Projects – Marketing Series

Syngenta Divanem Nematicide Launch

Gardner Award Winner for Special Projects – Marketing
Series – Two or more articles

by Debbie Clayton

Lyndsey Newnam

We asked Lyndsey Newnam, G&S Business Communications vice president, the following questions about her project, Divanem Nematicidie Launch.

Please briefly describe your winning project.

Nematodes are destructive, parasitic pests that feed on plant roots and damage turf quality. To address this issue, Syngenta developed Divanem nematicide, a new product for the turf industry with proven, broad-spectrum control of sting, lance and root-knot nematodes.

G&S Business Communications (G&S) and Martin Williams (MW) were tasked with developing an integrated launch campaign for Divanem in early 2017 that targeted golf course superintendents. The launch included print and digital advertising, news releases, media tour, targeted e-mail communications, new webpage, soil sampling kits, social media support and a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

  • Introduce Divanem to the turf industry through a variety of media.
  • Educate industry professionals about the features and benefits of Divanem.
  • Acquire media coverage in targeted trade publications.

What influenced your approach?

G&S and MW worked together to develop a comprehensive campaign that clearly and effectively directed audiences to the information they needed about Divanem. We used a myriad of tactics to communicate with the target audiences via all the different ways they obtain information, ranging from traditional print tactics to targeted digital tactics and in-person experiences. The launch aligned well with the 2017 Golf Industry Show in Orlando, Fla., which is a target region for nematode stress. The show gave us a great opportunity to reach a lot of superintendents and media in a focused time and area.

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

At G&S, we like to make informed decisions that drive our communications strategy for clients. To do this, proper metrics and analytics are essential and invaluable insights. For several aspects of this campaign, including social media, PPC, website and e-mail communications, we were able to target specific audiences based on interests or historical purchases, and customize our communications to better align with their needs. Gathering metrics along the way allowed us to fine-tune the tactics for maximum impact and provided insights for future Divanem communications. Additionally, we worked closely with MW to ensure different aspects of the campaign complemented each other creatively for a strong, unified launch.

 

Gardner Award Winner for Photography, Video and Multi-Media – Marketing Communications

Rain Bird’s ‘Defend Your Turf’

Gardner Award Winner for Photography, Video and Multi-Media – Marketing Communications

Best Short Video/DVD
Swanson Russell

by Courtney Mullen

We asked Jason Schmaderer, Swanson Russell vice president – account director, the following questions about his project, “Defend Your Turf.”

Please briefly describe your winning project.

To communicate key Rain Bird differentiators in a market where peer input drives decisions, we created a platform that allowed superintendents from across the country to tell their stories of Rain Bird irrigation success in their own words. This series of testimonial-driven videos highlights a pain point or problem each superintendent faced on their course and how they were able to solve it through their partnership with Rain Bird.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?
We wanted to drive awareness of the innovative products, service and expertise that Rain Bird can offer and position Rain Bird as a partner for golf course superintendents’ needs.

What influenced your approach?

Two key insights influenced our approach. First, we recognize superintendents are often in a highly scrutinized, stressful environment. Faced with labor challenges and member/customer expectations, they’re forced to do more with less and budgets are closely examined. An irrigation system is crucially important, but they don’t want to or have the time to think about it. They need to trust in product performance and expect the brand to provide 24/7 support because the system simply has to work as designed and touted. And second, among superintendents, peer word of mouth is a strong influencer in the decision-making process. We strive to build Real Connection™ among our audiences and the brand. And in this case, we felt our message was delivered in the most impactful way coming directly from the mouths of people our audience rely on most – their peers.

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

Authenticity. Golf courses and superintendents have different needs. A manufacturer can provide features, benefits and data to market their products and services, but the best proof points come directly from the positive stories shared by the people actually using them. For every interview, we prepared questions and key themes to highlight, but what stood out was the story diversity told by each superintendent – why they chose Rain Bird and how a product allowed them to overcome a unique challenge. The authenticity of these stories makes this video series an impactful tool to deliver campaign objectives and a successful mouthpiece for advocating the Rain Bird brand.

 

Gardner Award Winner for New Media – Marketing Communications

National Aerate Your Lawn Day Campaign

Gardner Award Winner for New Media – Marketing Communications
Websites
EPIC Creative

by Dawn Rigby

We asked Scott Covelli, EPIC Creative public relations supervisor, the following questions about the “RYAN – National Aerate Your Lawn Day – Campaign.”

Please briefly describe your winning project.

On behalf of our client RYAN, which makes turf renovation products such as aerators and sod cutters, we launched an unofficial new holiday called “National” Aerate Your Lawn Day. The holiday aims to educate both lawn care professional and homeowners on the importance of aeration. The hub of the holiday is a website – AerateYourLawnToday.com. For the pros, we focused on how aeration services can grow their business; and for homeowners, we sought to show them that aeration will help improve their lawn health and increase their home’s value and curb appeal.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

The first goal was education. The website provided information specifically for pros and homeowners, so we knew we were providing valuable content for each audience. We knew that not everyone aerated their lawns and not every landscaper offered aeration services. Aeration can seem like a daunting task, so we wanted to empower website visitors and show them that it’s much easier than they think. In the end, we encouraged homeowners to ask their local rental stores or their lawn care service about aeration. On the pro side, we wanted them to sell aeration services to their customers, helping them grow their businesses.

What influenced your approach?

Fall is a very popular time to aerate lawns, but many people still don’t, despite all the benefits. We saw an opportunity to bring to light how important aeration is while telling people that “now is the perfect time to aerate!” It was a step further than “do it;” it was more like “here’s WHY you should do it.” That was an exciting challenge.

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

When we pitched this idea to industry publications, we received a lot of positive feedback that they’d never seen anything like this before in the turf industry. The unofficial holiday concept is fun and inclusive, turning what seems like a cumbersome task into something much more inviting. Plus, it brought attention to something that a lot of people have heard about but not as many people do.

 

BIGGA Launches BTME Digital Media Centre

By Karl Hansell, BIGGA Communications Executive

Large exhibitions by their very nature take up a large amount of resources. Bringing people together from all over Europe is no small feat, but the golf industry is making strides toward sustainability and we’re keen on leading that charge.

BTME in Harrogate, England

British and International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA) supports schemes such as The R&A’s Golf Course 2030. Also, we’re the official media partner of STRI’s (Sports Turf Research Institute) Golf Environment Awards.

So, many of our members are getting involved with ways of reducing waste, recycling and promoting best practices regarding environmental awareness. We believe that BIGGA should do what it can to follow suit. That’s why we’ve worked hard this year to implement a Digital Media Centre at BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition (BTME). It’s just one small step, but we’re moving in the right direction and hopefully as it catches on, other schemes will come into force and BTME will get better and better.

With public relations staff and press officers writing huge amounts about their products digitally and then journalists typing those words into their digital newsletters, or working for print through a digital platform, it makes sense to cut out the middleman. Printing documents seems wasteful and doesn’t suit the modern image of golf and greenkeeping.

The idea of a digital media office was broached by Ellie Parry of Forte Marketing at BTME 2018 and I immediately saw the potential. I’m delighted that with the launch of our new website in 2018, we had the opportunity to implement this new digital platform. I think the possibilities are endless and it’s great that we’re able to take these first small steps toward a more sustainable show.

The ever-popular BTME Welcome Celebration will return in 2019.

With the Digital Media Centre, we’ll be phasing out printed new releases and information over the coming years, asking communications staff to instead upload their information to that platform and reduce the number of printed documents they bring to the show.

This will not only be more efficient, tidier and sustainable, but it will also allow journalists to access the information in the weeks following the event, while giving access to news from those who weren’t able to attend.

The BTME 2019 Digital Media Centre is accessible here https://www.bigga.org.uk/btme/btme-2019-digital-media-centre.html

Winter Running

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

Now that the mid-term elections are over (are they still recounting?), it’s time to get back to some serious conditioning and enjoying the few tidbits shared here about running.

Most of this article will deal with running in northern states – where there is snow on the ground and roadways. Wintertime running can be invigorating as long as you prepare appropriately and be safe. If you live in warmer climates, just skip my column this month. Ha!

A good friend of mine once told me – regarding running outside in the winter: “Get a taxi and head for a gym. Run on the treadmill for a couple of hours.” The only negative to that is the loss of that wonderful feeling when you finish a run in zero-degree weather – and head indoors for a hot shower. If you’re going to jog outside, wear a helmet. Skis? Head for the closest psychiatrist’s office? Just kidding.

My other good friend (I have only two – another sad story to share another time) once told me to forget running in the winter altogether. He said if you are near the end of the year and you are nowhere near meeting the goals you had set for the running season, this can be very disheartening. That’s why it is simply a good idea to stop – accept defeat – and head for the nearest watering hole. There is always next spring to get started again. Or select another form of exercise. Kidding again!

Be careful out there during the winter running season. A lot of incidents can happen that are not positive. However, check out some past winter issues of TOCA Talk for my suggestions regarding safety on winter roadways. Start with a pair of new running shoes as a holiday present.

Finally, be thinking while you run about all the ways to make TOCA the best membership association it can be and how YOU can play a part in making TOCA the best it can be. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!

Last year I wrote the following message to close my winter column: Anyone who responds positively to the editors regarding this issue’s running article will be rewarded famously at the next TOCA Annual Meeting. No one did. Let’s try again. I shall see you in Charlotte in 2019. Can spring be far away?

 

 

 

 

TOCA Offers $2,500 Scholarship

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) Foundation urges college undergraduate students pursuing a career in green industry communications to apply for its $2,500 scholarship. Potential careers include working for trade publications, newsletters or companies/marketing agencies that promote the golf course, lawn and landscape, sod and nursery/greenhouse, sports turf or maintenance industries.

TOCA scholarship eligibility includes majoring or minoring in communications or a green industry-related field in a two- or four-year program at institutions that offer turf management curriculums and communications. Typical majors include horticulture, plant sciences, botany, agronomy or plant pathology. Applicants must have an overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or more and a 3.0 GPA in the major area of study (based on a 4.0 scale).

The TOCA scholarship application and supplemental materials must be combined within one PDF file and sent via e-mail by March 15, 2019. Click here for TOCA scholarship instructions and requirements.

For further information, contact the TOCA office at 952-758-6340 or toca@gandgcomm.com.

The Publishers’ Scholarship is supported by Golf Course Management, Total Landscape Care, GIE Media, Moose River Media, North Coast Media, Southcomm Media, Arbor Age, OPEI, Landscape and Irrigation, SportsTurf magazines and TurfNet.com.

 

Introducing Scott Covelli

By Britney Riggs, Xylem Marketing

Scott Covelli is public relations supervisor for EPIC Creative, based in West Bend, Wis. He was recently elected to the TOCA board of directors and serves on the TOCA Professional Development Committee.

How did you get involved in the turf industry?

I joined EPIC Creative in 2014 and quickly started working on the Schiller Ground Care account, which includes the BOB-CAT, RYAN and Steiner brands. I started doing mostly social media work for those brands, but over the last few years, I’ve taken on more of a public relations (PR)/media relations role. We also have many other turf industry brands at EPIC. It’s a big part of our business and I’m thankful to be involved in this great industry.

What is your favorite part of your job at EPIC?

The relationships and the stories we get to tell. I like working with people and collaborating to build something that we could never have done alone. To that end, as a PR person, it’s exciting to find real stories that help showcase your clients’ values and connect with their audience. PR can often get a bad rap for being about “spin,” but I see it as an opportunity to tell meaningful stories.

What do you like to do when not working?

Scott Covelli, EPIC Creative

I’m a big Chicago sports fan, so you’ll often find me watching Cubs or Bears games. I also love to run and I’m always down to check out the cool new coffee shop or brewery in town. Finally, I really enjoy being a volunteer leader for a youth organization called Young Life, which helps give high school students safe spaces to be themselves, positive adult presence in their lives, and the message of a God who loves them.

What do you like best about TOCA?

As a PR person, by far my favorite part about TOCA is networking and building relationships with people in the industry. But it’s not just about the professional connections. I’d call myself an outgoing person; I really enjoy making new friends and getting to know more about them than just their 9-to-5 jobs.

TOCA helps me do my job better because I’ve gotten to know turf media members. We’ve developed trust and connections that help us tell better stories. The way that competing agencies, manufacturers and publications can come together to improve the industry is an amazing example of common ground in what seems to be a more and more divisive world.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired when I see people give selflessly to others – whether it’s their time, money or just laying down their comforts or preferences to benefit others. That’s just the most powerful inspiration for me.

What song do you get stuck in your head most often?

Lately, it’s been Needtobreathe or Ben Rector. BUT if I had to pick the one song that always gets stuck in my head when I hear it, it’s the legendary “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood.

The President’s Corner: “Just when I thought I was out…”

The President’s Corner
By Scott Hollister, TOCA Board President

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” – Michael Corleone

When I first heard the news that two great green industry friends and two stalwarts on the TOCA board of directors were moving on, I was immediately reminded of this quote from “The Godfather, Part III.” It’s a truly great line from what in this reviewer’s mind was an otherwise ho-hum movie (hot take: “The Godfather, Part II” is the best film in the series).

I have had the privilege to work with both Lacy Ravencraft from Ewing Irrigation and Marisa Palmieri from North Coast Media and Landscape Management magazine for many years, most notably through TOCA board service. And as I wrapped up my two years as TOCA president and chairman of the board of directors in May 2017, I was excited that Lacy would be following me into the association’s presidency and that Marisa was right behind as our vice president. The future, I knew, was in good hands.

But as we all know and have all likely experienced in our careers, things change. So earlier this year, when the TOCA board learned, in relatively short succession, that Lacy was leaving Ewing in search of greener pastures and that Marisa was leaving North Coast to spend more time with her family, I was not shocked. I was sad and disappointed that two friends were leaving the business, to be sure, and also really happy that they both were about to embark on new adventures in life, but definitely not shocked.

It was as that news settled in and I began to think about how losing our president and vice president midway through their terms would impact TOCA that the great line posted above started to come to mind. Because I quickly realized that just as I was about to wrap up my board service to the association, it was very possible that TOCA was going to pull me back into a leadership role.

And that’s exactly what transpired, as TOCA’s executive management – Den Gardner and Kristy Mach – asked if I would consider serving in an interim role as board chairman while we sorted out how to fill those two vacancies. But unlike Michael Corleone, who reluctantly returned to the family’s fold when asked, I was more than happy to accept their offer, which is why you’re reading my words once again in this space (really, I’m sorry about that).

As I noted several times during my earlier stint as TOCA president, this association has been very important to my growth and development as a professional in green industry communications. To be able to give back in any way was the least I could do to help pay back some of what I have received through involvement in this association, whether that was in a regular role on the board of directors or through these interim duties.

And you’ll be happy to hear that this current setup is indeed temporary. During the TOCA board’s most recent meeting at GIE+EXPO in Louisville, Ky., we put in place a plan that we’re confident will keep the association on the upward trajectory that it has enjoyed over the past decade. We’re excited to unveil those plans to the full membership during the TOCA Annual Meeting in Charlotte, N.C., this May, where I’ll happily turn over the reins to new leadership and resume my transition back to the rank and file.

But should the call ever come again to serve TOCA at another level, I’ll be ready. If there is one organization that I don’t mind being pulled back into, it is most definitely this one.

TOCA Talk – Fall 2018

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.

 



Greetings TOCA Friends!

Lacy Ravencraft, TOCA Board President

As we hit the stride of summer (and as I melt in the climbing 100-something temps here in Phoenix), it’s a busy time for us personally and professionally.

For many, it’s vacations and school’s-out-for-summer syndrome, mixed with mid-year reviews and the barrage of seasonal summer topics and projects we’re seeking new angles on.

We’re busy people, leading busier lives—but we can still stay connected with just a touch of mindfulness as we move through the mid-year point. Here are some ways to stay involved with TOCA this summer.

 

 


TOCA Sees “Good News” in its Future as Cincy Meeting Celebrates 29 Years

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

As TOCA members filed out of the ballroom of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza following the awards ceremony on Thursday night, I could only recall the famous sign-off by Les Nessman, farm/news director of the fictional WKRP radio station in downtown Cincinnati. Those words pretty well summed up the great three days we spent in the Queen City.

Slightly paraphrased, I mumbled something like this: “This is Den Gardner saying good-bye. And may the good news be yours.”

Read the overview of a highly-productive and informative annual meeting.

 


TOCA Silent Auction a Success

By Kyle Wieskus, TOCA Membership Director

The TOCA Silent Auction at this year’s Annual Meeting Ag Media Summit raised $5,000! We are thrilled, as this total beats the 2017 Auction!  All proceeds go to the TOCA Foundation.  In total, 28 generous items were donated.

Learn more about the successful event!

 


2018 TOCA Communications Awards Announced

By Kristy Mach

At the 29th annual meeting in May, TOCA named the winners of the communications contest for marketing and publishing. There were more than 416 domestic and international entries in this year’s contest.

TOCA recognizes members for excellence in writing, design, photography/AV, new media and special projects. The top winners from the marketing and publishing categories are named as Gardner Award winners.

See the list of this year’s first place, merit and Gardner Award winners.

2018 TOCA Communications Contest Winners pose at the 29th TOCA Annual Meeting, Cincinnati, Ohio.

 


Felicia Gillham Inducted into
TOCA Hall of Fame


Felicia Gillham, longtime TOCA member and one of the organization’s early leaders, was inducted into the TOCA Hall of Fame at the TOCA Annual Meeting in Cincinnati. Felicia and her husband Frank Standfuss attended the conference, and were lauded in a presentation honoring Felicia’s contributions to TOCA and the entire green industry.

Join us in congratulating Felicia Gillham for her well deserved honor!

 


Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan Named the 2018 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year

By Cindy Code, Project EverGreen

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) and Project EverGreen named Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan as the recipient of the 2018 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year Award.

The award, which recognizes individuals for outstanding communications efforts pertaining to green spaces and environmental issues, was presented during the TOCA Annual Conference in Cincinnati. He is the 20th recipient of this award. Learn more!

 


My TOCA Experience, From Across the Pond

By Ella Boyden, PR and Communications Officer, Ransomes Jacobsen

I was recently lucky enough to be chosen as the international recipient of the TOCA stipend to attend the 2018 annual meeting in Cincinnati. I was thrilled when I received the email, and soon looked into booking flights to The Queen City!

I arrived in Cincinnati on Tuesday 1st May via JFK, New York. As soon as I reached the hotel, it was time for a quick change before heading out for the ‘newcomers meal’ at Moerlein Lager House. Despite the slight jetlag, I was pleased I went along; it was brilliant to meet some of the people I would be sharing my first TOCA experience with, and chat with them over a pint (or two) of Vienna lager! And then …

 


Lessons Learned at TOCA 2018

Many valuable professional development sessions allowed TOCA members attending the 2018 TOCA Annual Meeting to enhance their capabilities. Fortunately, you can benefit as well! Check out the information provided in the meeting.

 


TOCA Welcomes Newbies

By Debbie Clayton, Clayton Communications

For the first time in 2018, TOCA welcomed “Newbies” — or first-time attendees to the annual meeting — with a sponsored dinner the night before the meeting officially began.

An idea spawned by the TOCA Professional Development Committee, the dinner served two purposes:  introducing Newbies to each other and other members, and providing a venue for non-board members to get together. See how the “new tradition” was received by TOCA members!

 


Summer 2018 Running Column

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

TOCA Runners Club at TOCA 2018 Annual Meeting.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the TOCA Run/Walk at the annual meeting in May in beautiful Cincinnati. . We appreciate the great turnout and look forward to similar numbers next year in Charlotte. It was also great to see so many of you at the TOCA annual meeting and especially wonderful to run alongside (or mostly behind) so many of you at the walk/run.

As with most regular columns, the emails and text messages that follow each edition of TOCA Talk and this column seem endless. That is certainly true this time. As most of the questions deal with my love of exercise and running/walking, I feel it necessary to briefly reflect on my own
history of running.

Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!


Gardner Award for Special Projects – Publishing Special Event 

 “2017 US Open Tournament Preparation Coverage” by EPIC Creative

Gardner Award Winner for Special Projects – Publishing Special Event 
by Dawn Rigby

We asked Tim Merath, Chief Operations Officer at EPIC Creative, the following questions about the “2017 US Open Tournament Preparation Coverage.”

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

(Left to right) Miles Cooksy – EPIC Creative, Bryan Pechacek – EPIC Creative, Zach Reineking – Superintendent of Erin Hills Golf Club

When we were covering the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills, we wanted to feature and promote the intense and often unheralded work that the golf course maintenance crew undertakes in order to pull off a world-class athletic event. We went where the television cameras were not and captured the real-life stories behind the turf. By shedding light on the crew and their efforts, the audience at home, consisting of superintendents, assistants mechanics, students, and other industry professionals, could learn from the lessons executed at the highest level.

What influenced your approach?

The approach we took was to not only capture the obvious beauty shots on the course

but to also tie the drama in the rolling landscape at Erin Hills into the ups and downs taking place before play had begun. We took time to get to know the crew, dig into stories that developed while we were there, and kept our eyes and ears open to the happenings around us. At the heart of our work is the desire to show the real and tangible personalities behind the course.

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

Our storytelling is what set our work apart for the 2017 US Open coverage. The work that went into finding and capturing the stories with honesty and respect sets us apart within the industry for not only this project but for all the work we do at GCSAA TV.

 

TOCA Talk – Summer 2018

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.

 



Greetings TOCA Friends!

Lacy Ravencraft, TOCA Board President

As we hit the stride of summer (and as I melt in the climbing 100-something temps here in Phoenix), it’s a busy time for us personally and professionally.

For many, it’s vacations and school’s-out-for-summer syndrome, mixed with mid-year reviews and the barrage of seasonal summer topics and projects we’re seeking new angles on.

We’re busy people, leading busier lives—but we can still stay connected with just a touch of mindfulness as we move through the mid-year point. Here are some ways to stay involved with TOCA this summer.

 

 


TOCA Sees “Good News” in its Future as Cincy Meeting Celebrates 29 Years

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

As TOCA members filed out of the ballroom of the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza following the awards ceremony on Thursday night, I could only recall the famous sign-off by Les Nessman, farm/news director of the fictional WKRP radio station in downtown Cincinnati. Those words pretty well summed up the great three days we spent in the Queen City.

Slightly paraphrased, I mumbled something like this: “This is Den Gardner saying good-bye. And may the good news be yours.”

Read the overview of a highly-productive and informative annual meeting.

 


TOCA Silent Auction a Success

By Kyle Wieskus, TOCA Membership Director

The TOCA Silent Auction at this year’s Annual Meeting Ag Media Summit raised $5,000! We are thrilled, as this total beats the 2017 Auction!  All proceeds go to the TOCA Foundation.  In total, 28 generous items were donated.

Learn more about the successful event!

 


2018 TOCA Communications Awards Announced

By Kristy Mach

At the 29th annual meeting in May, TOCA named the winners of the communications contest for marketing and publishing. There were more than 416 domestic and international entries in this year’s contest.

TOCA recognizes members for excellence in writing, design, photography/AV, new media and special projects. The top winners from the marketing and publishing categories are named as Gardner Award winners.

See the list of this year’s first place, merit and Gardner Award winners.

2018 TOCA Communications Contest Winners pose at the 29th TOCA Annual Meeting, Cincinnati, Ohio.

 


Felicia Gillham Inducted into
TOCA Hall of Fame


Felicia Gillham, longtime TOCA member and one of the organization’s early leaders, was inducted into the TOCA Hall of Fame at the TOCA Annual Meeting in Cincinnati. Felicia and her husband Frank Standfuss attended the conference, and were lauded in a presentation honoring Felicia’s contributions to TOCA and the entire green industry.

Join us in congratulating Felicia Gillham for her well deserved honor!

 


Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan Named the 2018 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year

By Cindy Code, Project EverGreen

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) and Project EverGreen named Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan as the recipient of the 2018 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year Award.

The award, which recognizes individuals for outstanding communications efforts pertaining to green spaces and environmental issues, was presented during the TOCA Annual Conference in Cincinnati. He is the 20th recipient of this award. Learn more!

 


My TOCA Experience, From Across the Pond

By Ella Boyden, PR and Communications Officer, Ransomes Jacobsen

I was recently lucky enough to be chosen as the international recipient of the TOCA stipend to attend the 2018 annual meeting in Cincinnati. I was thrilled when I received the email, and soon looked into booking flights to The Queen City!

I arrived in Cincinnati on Tuesday 1st May via JFK, New York. As soon as I reached the hotel, it was time for a quick change before heading out for the ‘newcomers meal’ at Moerlein Lager House. Despite the slight jetlag, I was pleased I went along; it was brilliant to meet some of the people I would be sharing my first TOCA experience with, and chat with them over a pint (or two) of Vienna lager! And then …

 


Lessons Learned at TOCA 2018

Many valuable professional development sessions allowed TOCA members attending the 2018 TOCA Annual Meeting to enhance their capabilities. Fortunately, you can benefit as well! Check out the information provided in the meeting.

 


TOCA Welcomes Newbies

By Debbie Clayton, Clayton Communications

For the first time in 2018, TOCA welcomed “Newbies” — or first-time attendees to the annual meeting — with a sponsored dinner the night before the meeting officially began.

An idea spawned by the TOCA Professional Development Committee, the dinner served two purposes:  introducing Newbies to each other and other members, and providing a venue for non-board members to get together. See how the “new tradition” was received by TOCA members!

 


Summer 2018 Running Column

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

TOCA Runners Club at TOCA 2018 Annual Meeting.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the TOCA Run/Walk at the annual meeting in May in beautiful Cincinnati. . We appreciate the great turnout and look forward to similar numbers next year in Charlotte. It was also great to see so many of you at the TOCA annual meeting and especially wonderful to run alongside (or mostly behind) so many of you at the walk/run.

As with most regular columns, the emails and text messages that follow each edition of TOCA Talk and this column seem endless. That is certainly true this time. As most of the questions deal with my love of exercise and running/walking, I feel it necessary to briefly reflect on my own
history of running.

Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!


TOCA Fireside Chat at the 2018 Irrigation Show

Don’t miss the TOCA Fireside Chat at the 2019 Irrigation Show.

Plans are underway for a fantastic panel discussion on “Keeping Cyclical Content Fresh.”

Presented by TOCA and Ewing Irrigation, we invite you to the Long Beach Convention Center on December 5 for a 2 p.m. discussion and get-together.

Watch your inbox for more information!

TOCA Breakfast at GIE+Expo – Fuel Your Growth!

This year’s TOCA breakfast, sponsored by Bayer, features something for everyone. Literally! We’re offering a editor panel mini-session – find out what makes these editors tick (and ticked off!)

Panelists include:

Jill Odom, Total Landscape Care
Brian Horn, Lawn & Landscape
Seth Jones, Landscape Management
Scott Hollister, Golf Course Management

Moderated by Jason DeSarle, vice president of membership and marketing of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), attendees will learn about upcoming trends in the industry, pet peeves and have plenty of time for Q&A.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL!!! Each new attendee receives a $5 Starbucks gift card. All attendees are eligible to win a free TOCA Annual Meeting registration – a $375 value!

JOIN US! 

Friday, October 19
Bayer Press Conference at 7:30 a.m. (Media Only)
TOCA/Bayer Breakfast at 8:00 a.m. (All guests welcome)
Room C112, Kentucky Expo Center

RSVP to Kristy Mach at kristymach@gandgcomm.com or call 952-758-6340.

 

TOCA Members Making Moves

North Coast Media Expands Landscape Management Content Staff

North Coast Media (NCM) is making significant content investments in its Landscape Management (LM) brand, including several staff additions and promotions.

Jason DeSarle Joins NALP as VP of Membership and Marketing

The National Association of Landscape Professionals has announced that Jason DeSarle joins the association as its Vice President of Membership and Marketing beginning August 20.

DeSarle was formerly the Group Publisher of Grandview Media’s Green Group overseeing Turf, Turf Design Build, Superintendent, Sports Field Management, Snow Business and LawnSite.com. He was also a former publisher at North Coast Media.

Nicole Wisniewski named Director of Content for NALP

Nicole Wisknieski, former editor of Turf Magazine, has recently been named Director of Content for the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Congratulations, Nicole!

Fall Running Tips

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

Fall is here and what can make a beautifully colored-leaf day even better?  How about a jog/run or walk?  Early morning fall running can be a wonderful experience.  Get out there and enjoy the day.

Here are some fall running tips shared with me from Hall of Fame cross country coach Gerry Smith:

*  If you have been running all summer (or strenuously walking) it’s probably time to check your shoes.  The tread may be worn or you might just want to “do it” with a new pair of shoes.

*  Get your fall wardrobe ready by some “fun” shopping.  A light long sleeve top is always a nice touch.  And how about a bright orange set of shorts?

*  You still need to hydrate, even though it is cooler.  And find some friends to run/jog/walk with who like to push a faster pace.  As you grow in your own healthy experience, it will do wonders for your own confidence.

*  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 even some 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 and my advice is free.  Because I am semi-retired, I have plenty of time to help you with your physical fitness – except when I’m running.

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 the best association it can be. Until next time, be well, be smart, be healthy and be TOCA!

Photo credit: Minneapolis Running 

Gardner Award for Design – Marketing Communications

Foliar Pak 2018 Product Catalog

Gardner Award Winner for Design – Marketing Communications
Printed Collateral – Overall Collateral Design

By Scott Covelli (on behalf of the TOCA professional development committee)

We asked Dawn Ribgy, Managing Director, Xylem Marketing, the following questions about Foliar Pak 2018. (Other members of her team were Justin Thiry, Britney Riggs, Courtney Mullen, Victoria Carter, Jess Simpson, and Storm Timberlake)

Please briefly describe your winning project.

Xylem Marketing developed a 56-page printed catalog to showcase the newly rebranded Foliar-Pak product line. Foliar-Pak nutrient products are sold through an exclusive network of private distributors to golf course superintendents, groundskeepers, turf managers, and lawn and landscape applicators. Foliar-Pak’s 2018 product catalog has become a powerful sales tool for distributor sales representatives and a trusted resource for customers.

Our team handled every aspect of the project, from concept, design, and layout to customer interviews, photography, and technical writing.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

Xylem Marketing was tasked to create a catalog that promoted each product in the Foliar-Pak line while highlighting the new products and updated formulations. The company had recently reformulated several products and consolidated two branded product lines into one. This catalog was an opportunity to tell that story, while uniting the product users to rally behind one brand.

What influenced your approach?

Foliar-Pak customers truly inspired this project. With so many new products and updated formulations in the Foliar-Pak product line, we wanted to include feedback from real customers that had used the products. However, it was their willingness to contribute to the project that made this catalog so successful.

Collaborating with Foliar-Pak’s customers, we were able to conduct product trials, photograph the results, and sit down for in-depth interviews with 12 different product users. This content was essential to the catalog design, and we were also able to reuse it in campaigns across other marketing channels, including social media and the Foliar-Pak website.

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

It’s the little extras—like the spot UV printing effects on the cover and perfect binding—that make this piece stand out as printed marketing collateral. Each part is intentional. The catalog cover features a large droplet, originally incorporated in the standard logo, to signify the liquid nature of the products. Amino acid structures are incorporated into the design using spot UV coating to illustrate the science behind the new product formulas.

Throughout the catalog, testimonial pages display original photography and quotes from our customer interviews next to the corresponding product pages. The completed project became more than a product catalog; it is a compilation of stories told by the product users.

Gardner Award for New Media – Publishing, Blogs

“LM Blog”
Gardner Award Winner for New Media – Publishing, Blogs
LM Contributors + Staff, North Coast Media

by Jill Odom

We asked Marissa Palmieri, editor, Landscape Management, the following questions about the LM Blog:

Please briefly describe your winning project.

The LM Blog features a rotating set of weekly contributors. It’s designed to share information readers seek in a less formal way than typical news and feature stories. In 2017, LM‘s handpicked bloggers covered the following topics:

  • Government Affairs – Up-to-date government and regulatory information from consultant and former state association executive Gregg Robertson.
  • High Performance – Posts on strategy, leadership and other points of interest from former contractor and consultant Phil Harwood.
  • Profit Power – Consultant, peer group facilitator and former contractor Jeffrey Scott shares sales, marketing and management information.
  • Leading – Bill Dellecker, a longtime landscape company leader, shares leadership lessons he’s learned along the way.

In addition to being featured on the LM website and in the weekly LM Direct e-newsletter, blog posts are posted on social media where readers often comment on and share them.

In 2017, several posts garnered notable interest, including a Government Affairs blog post about the labor shortage, which received several comments and a letter to the editor that we ran in our print publication.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

The LM Blog goes back before my time as editor (2012). It used to be published as a standalone Blogspot blog, but we moved it into our WordPress framework when we got a new website in 2013. The “old” LM Blog covered news of the weird and feel-good stories about landscape contractors. It has evolved over the past five years as just another way to deliver the information our readers seek—albeit in a more conversational format than a news item.

What influenced your approach?

Several factors have influenced our approach: reader feedback about the type of content they’re looking for, web metrics showing us what does well and our contributors’ opinions about what’s important, based on what they’re hearing in the market.

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

I’m fairly convinced the judges were impressed with not only our content’s quality but its consistency. Many B2B publishing sites have blogs, but they are not always updated regularly. The LM staff committed to posting at least weekly on the LM Blog several years ago, and we lined up our contributors, just like we would do for a print column or department. The result is a well-executed section of our website that readers appreciate.

Gardner Award for Best Design – International Publishing

Drones Feature

Gardner Award Winner for Best Design – International Publishing

Greenkeeper International, BIGGA, Ltd.

by Jill Odom

We asked Libbie Waddleton, of Greenkeeper International, the following questions about the Greenkeeper International Drones Feature.

Please briefly describe your winning project.

The Drones feature was part of a greenkeeping in the future themed edition of Greenkeeper International in which we gathered a series of articles demonstrating how the greenkeeping industry is embracing new technology.

What were your main objectives in developing this project?

The main objectives were to create a visually appealing piece covering the story of how one greenkeeper has learned about drones and is now using them to his full advantage on the course, interspersed with useful information and tips on drones as a whole.

The idea was to create a futuristic style that could be carried through the whole magazine to tie it together. We picked a ‘techy’ style font and combined it with use the of overlayed arrow shapes and gradients conveying movement and travelling forward. The colours were deliberately chosen to be unconventional and not tied to any specific element of greenkeeping.

What influenced your approach?

The pieces themselves were a heavy influence to the overall look and feel. The idea that technology is clean cut, sharp lines, slick with no soft imagery were the main ideas behind the piece. I wanted to give the feeling that the drone was coming out of the page right at the reader.

I wanted to give a depth to the design by overlaying shapes and gradients to keep a multi-level texture that could also be applied to the other futuristic pieces bringing the magazine together as a whole.

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

What stood out for me was the introductory spread with the drone dominating the page. It grabbed the attention of the reader and drew them into the rest of the piece, which in terms of wording and imagery was fairly short but it made for an easy to read article that the reader could invest time in without feeling overwhelmed. It kept it light and informative in comparison to a more traditional article that is much longer and in-depth.

Getting to Know Jill Odom

by Courtney Mullen, Xylem Marketing

 Jill Odom is editor of Total Landscape Care magazine, based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

 Please tell us about your background and where you grew up.

I was born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama. After receiving a scholarship, I went to Troy University in 2011. I majored in English with a minor in print journalism. I worked on the school newspaper for four years, moving from being a writer for arts and entertainment to the variety editor and eventually was the sports editor for my last two years.

How did you originally get involved in the turf industry?

I graduated from college in 2015 and was looking for jobs on Indeed. I saw a position where you needed to know AP Style and I applied since I felt qualified! Turns out the publication was Total Landscape Care and I was hired as associate editor. I was promoted to editor a year-and- a-half later when my boss retired. I’ve been covering the Green Industry for three years now.

What does your typical workday look like?

A typical workday for me is getting to the office at 7 a.m., going through emails and looking for potential story topics for the day, especially anything time sensitive. I meet with my associate editor, Beth, around 8:30 a.m. to discuss what we each plan to write that day and any upcoming projects. Then I proceed to research and write whatever story I’ve chosen for the day, edit Beth’s story, publish the articles, schedule the newsletter and work on any other projects that are on-going until 4:30 p.m.

What do you do for fun?

Oh, I have a lot of hobbies! They often compete for my free time. I absolutely love to read and have an ever-growing pile of to-be-read books. I also enjoy going to the movies and playing video games. I’m a big Nintendo fan, but lately I’ve entered the world of PC gaming. I also like to draw, hike and practice taekwondo.

What is your favorite part of TOCA?

The best part about TOCA for me is the networking. It might sound clichéd, but I love the connections that you build.  Forming friendships with many PR people for different companies makes my job so much easier because they can put me in contact with sources that I need for a certain story. Also, I know I can trust them when they send me pitches because I know who they are compared to strangers from other agencies I’m not familiar with.

What’s the number one thing on your bucket list?

It’s probably a tie between cage diving with sharks and traveling to Ireland. I’ve been saving for Ireland for a while now, I’d just rather not go alone. As for the cage diving, I’m not really sure if I need to become scuba certified first so it’s more of a vague concept that I know I would do if presented the opportunity.

TOCA Marketing Internship: My Extraordinary Summer Experience

By Kayla Kingston, TOCA Marketing Intern with Project EverGreen

This summer, I was presented with the fantastic opportunity to be TOCA’s first marketing intern, spending ten weeks honing my communication skills with Project EverGreen, a national nonprofit based out of Mentor, Ohio – a suburb of Cleveland – that is dedicated to creating a greener, healthier, cooler Earth through the revitalization of green spaces.

In March, as I was quickly approaching the end of my sophomore year as a Communication Major at the University of Dayton, it felt as if finding a summer internship was utterly hopeless.

However, I learned about the TOCA marketing internship a few days before the application was due and knew it was the perfect fit for me.

Throughout the humid summer days in Mentor, I updated the community project pages on the Project EverGreen website, wrote news articles and blog posts, interviewed GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops volunteers and helped manage Project EverGreen’s social media accounts.  Thankfully, I was never asked to pick up coffee, though I personally could have used the extra caffeine somedays.

One of the greatest experiences I had with Project EverGreen was traveling to Detroit, Michigan for phase II of the Pingree Park makeover.  Pingree Park had become a rundown green space, but the area has recently been reinvigorated with renovations done by Project EverGreen in partnership with Detroit-based corporations, local businesses, community groups, neighbors and landscape professionals.

While in Detroit, I had the honor to meet with the board members of Project EverGreen, take pictures of the beautiful work volunteers were doing in the hot sun and talk to the community members who were endlessly grateful for the positive impact that Project EverGreen’s hard work and dedication has had on their neighborhood.

The feedback I received from members of the East Detroit community made me realize that Project EverGreen’s work is truly changing lives.  I was proud to be able to partake in Project EverGreen’s initiative, even for just a summer, knowing that I was tying in my passion for human rights with my marketing skills, which allow me to share remarkable stories like this one.

Project EverGreen’s award-winning programs also showed me how much of a difference this nonprofit is making across the country.  GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops, which provide free lawn care and snow removal services to families of active-duty deployed military members, were two programs that I became familiarized with very quickly.

The more I learned about GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops, the more I wanted to do to make sure that awareness of this program is spread far and wide.

At this year’s SIMA Snow and Ice Symposium, which took place at the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland, I was able to meet with GreenCare and SnowCare for Troops volunteers.  Hearing the powerful stories about why people choose to volunteer and how their volunteer experiences are positively affecting the lives of the military families was unforgettable.

This internship provided me with hands-on experience that I do not receive in the classroom.  I learned how to work in a professional setting every day, how to conduct an interview, how to write for a public, online platform and so much more.

Most of all, my internship gave me insight as to where I plan to go from here.  When I first arrived at the University of Dayton, my major was undecided.  Even after realizing that the field of communications was right for me, I had become used to the mantra of “I don’t know what I want to do in the future.”

After working with TOCA and Project EverGreen, I have decided to focus on Public Relations for the rest of my time in school.  My hope is to continue to work with nonprofit organizations, joining forces with initiatives that aim to inspire growth in society and give people something to smile about.

I will continue to take the lessons I learned from TOCA and Project EverGreen to other jobs down the road.  Having a solid foundation in the marketing world of the green industry is a chance that few encounter this early in their career.  I honestly have no idea how I got so lucky!

I would like to thank TOCA for offering me the opportunity to be their first marketing intern and for inviting me to the TOCA Annual Meeting in Cincinnati, another wonderful learning experience that provided a much needed break from finals week at the University of Dayton.

And, of course, a big thank you goes out to Cindy Code, Ki Matsko, Nici Trem and Jeff Fenner for taking me under their wings for the entire summer.  Between setting up a desk for me to work at, giving me snacks when I did not pack a big enough lunch, keeping an eye on me in Detroit and introducing me to new experiences and contacts in the green industry, everyone at Project EverGreen made this summer internship extremely memorable and tremendously valuable.

Catching up with the TOCA/TurfNet Intern Parker Stancil

Editor’s Note: For the past three years, the TOCA intern has been hosted by TurfNet through its internship program managed overseas with a student studying to be a superintendent. The student also is involved in blogging regularly for TurfNet. Following is a summary of this year’s internship by TOCA and TurfNet intern Parker Stancil by Jon Kiger of TurfNet.

Those who attended the TOCA Annual Meeting in Cincinnati heard about our media intern Parker Stancil. You may recall seeing the video I filmed where he explained how much he was looking forward to his time in Denmark and how appreciative he was of the TOCA media internship. I was fortunate to be able to visit Parker at his host course in Keterminde, Denmark.

The trip was relatively easy as I was already in Dublin on vacation. I say “relatively” as it was still a two-plus hour flight to Copenhagen and a combination train/car ride to the town. Upon arrival at the nearby train station I was greeted by longtime friend and frequent TurfNet intern host Aidan O’Hara. As you can gather from his name, he’s not originally from Denmark! Aidan is from Ireland and hosted our first three interns there starting in 2012. This is his second full season in charge of Great Northern Golf Club in Keterminde, Denmark.

The course is only fully operational between March and November so Aidan assembles a crew of International seasonal workers to carry him through that time. Parker was to join that crew as its only American representative.

Great Northern is owned by the grandson of the founder of Legos so it is very much a personal project and the expectations are that the course, clubhouse, etc… are all run at a high standard. Keterminde has a population of about 6,500 and is located on the central Denmark island of Funen. Upon my arrival I was immediately struck by the silence as I walked around town. There wasn’t the usual ambient noise I was used to in Atlanta. I also saw young people (late teens) in the town riding bicycles which was in stark contrast to the drivers license right of passage we’re used to here.

Parker took to the work at Great Northern with the enthusiasm I had seen when we first met at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. His primary adjustments were based on learning how to cook, do his own laundry and other functions that were taken care of since he lived at home. He also soon realized that finding his own source of transportation was vital (the course and housing were a couple miles out of town) so he bought a bike locally from Facebook Marketplace (including negotiating a lower price and delivery of the bike…)

Aidan gave Parker a variety of responsibilities such as mowing, to course set up, and even some spraying. He also did a few tests within their nursery area. These were all chronicled in the blog he wrote for TurfNet.

During our visit I saw Parker out on the course working;  and we also played the course later that day. Denmark work regulations dictate much more free time than we (and especially golf course interns) are used to here, so he had time for a few side trips to the beach and into Copenhagen.

In total I spent two nights in Keterminde during my visit with Parker and Aidan. I would certainly consider a second trip there as part of a regular vacation to that part of Europe as it was definitely away from the crowds you would expect in Europe’s major cities.

The following month Parker and Ashley Wilkinson (his step-father and also on the faculty at Horry Georgetown) both volunteered at the Scottish Open in Gullane, Scotland. I also met up with them there and it was great to see them integrated into a very small pool of volunteers (about eight) and the regular crew at Gullane Golf Club. Parker’s mom Tracy wasn’t about to have Ashley visit him in Scotland without coming along herself so she came to Scotland and enjoyed the week there.

TOCA members should enjoy hearing in her own words what she felt Parker got out of the entire experience:

“Parker left just days after his 19th birthday. He left young and still a little naive, yet returned in August a confident young man. 

In just a few short months, Parker experienced the leadership of a great mentor at Great Northern, cultural diversity, and an unbelievable brotherhood with an international group of co-workers.  He managed to juggle his homework assignments, as well as write weekly blogs for TurfNet!  As his mother, I know I’m a little prejudiced, but I was delighted every week to read his TurfNet blogs.  I read them with such pride at the terrific job he was doing. 

My husband and I had the pleasure of joining him at Scottish Open in July.  I was amazed to watch Parker interact with the group of international volunteers!  I was also amazed with his passion for his role in this huge international event. 

To say he grew up this summer is an understatement. My heart is truly full. Again, thank you to TurfNet and TOCA. I will always be indebted to you all for giving Parker this opportunity.” 

His experience on the course(s) is described above so I’d like to describe his communication skills as he wrote his blog for TurfNet. Parker was by far our best student blogger. He took direction well on topics to cover and his photos helped tell each story very well.

When we send these interns over we understand that they have many time pressures so we expect to do a little “prodding” to get the blog posts over in a timely and regular fashion. Parker was outstanding in sending in his blog posts at or in advance of our Thursday deadline. When we received them they needed very little editing which also made it a pleasure.

I enjoyed getting to know Parker and having him as TOCA and TurfNet’s intern this summer. I look forward to keeping in touch with him and following his career path. After reading this I hope you’ll agree that the TOCA media internship is making a difference in the lives of the next generation of communicators. Thanks to the TOCA Board for allowing TurfNet to host the intern and thanks to Bayer for its financial support of this important program.

 

Charlotte is TOCA’s  Fourth Foray to the Carolinas as Plans Continue for 30th Annual Meeting in 2019

By Den Gardner, Executive Director

I’ve seen James Taylor perform live twice, once just a couple months ago with Bonnie Raitt. Wow is all I can say. With TOCA set to visit Charlotte in May 2019 for its 30th annual meeting (whodathunkit?), our fourth trip to the Carolinas reminds me of the words to one of Taylor’s greatest hits – “Carolina In My Mind.”

In my mind I’m going to Carolina.

Can’t you see the sunshine, can’t you just feel the moonshine?

 Ain’t it just like a friend of mine to hit me from behind?

Yes, I’m gone to Carolina in my mind.

TOCA did its meeting in Raleigh, N.C., in 1994 (home of the infamous golf course described by former TOCA president Ron Smith as “vegetatively challenged”), came back to Asheville, N.C. in 2011, with a trip in between in 2003 in Charleston, SC.

So mark your calendars for April 30 through May 2 at the new Embassy Suites Uptown Charlotte. Charlotte is one of America’s fastest-growing cities. With plenty of TOCA members in the state, attendees can count on a special event, with professional development geared to today’s green industry communicators, with a smattering of indoor and outdoor events that may hold a surprise or two for all.

While the TOCA meeting concludes on May 2, that’s the start of the Wells Fargo  Championship pro golf tournament at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. Keep that in mind as you make your plans for Charlotte next May.

We are thrilled that G&S Business Communications (led by TOCA member Lyndsey Newnam), based in Raleigh, has stepped up to handle the theme for 2019 and the awards program. Also on the program committee is Mark LaFleur of Syngenta (Greensboro) and Pat Morrow in Raleigh and a handful of TOCA board members. If you are interested in being on the program committee, please let TOCA staff know and we’ll be sure to include you in our list.

A meeting of the program committee will be held in Louisville for those TOCA members at the GIE+EXPO show Oct. 17-19.

TOCA has settled into a familiar and likable format the past several years. It will likely keep that format in Charlotte. That means:

  • Board meeting Tuesday, April 30, with an evening informal gathering of all TOCA members and the “newbie/first timers” dinner that evening.
  • Wednesday morning will continue to be recognizing our Environmental Communicator of the Year (sponsored by Project EverGreen), recognizing our intern and a workshop or two to round out the morning.
  • Wednesday afternoon will feature our annual tour of the community with a green industry slant. This is also the afternoon of the annual TOCA golf outing.
  • Our opening night reception Wednesday evening promises to highlight all that TOCA and Charlotte has to offer its attendees.
  • Thursday is, of course, a full day of our keynote speaker, workshops/seminars, the important business meeting and the evening awards banquet, which recognizes the best in TOCA communications.

We also remind TOCA members about the TOCA Foundation Silent Auction. The first year we brought in $4,000 and last year that amount increased to $5,000. The foundation is used to fund our youth programs – such as our scholarships and intern program.

TOCA members also will be updated on the new strategic plan. You will see a survey in a few weeks from our Strategic Plan Committee and encourage you to take the time to answer our questions as TOCA enters its fourth decade.

The 2019 agenda will be updated for TOCA attendees at the Oct. 19 breakfast at GIE+EXPO. Watch the TOCA website: www.toca.org, for more information in the meantime.

See you in Charlottee in 2019!

Cultivate Relationships in the Green Industry

By Lacy Ravencraft, TOCA Board President

Greetings TOCA friends!

The arrival of fall signifies a period of change. Living in Arizona, I lament the experience of seasonal color transformation from green to hues of red, orange and gold in the landscape—one thing I have never quite adjusted to living in the desert.

But the lack of visual cues highlighting our fall transition doesn’t negate the period of reflection and preparation we enter this time of year, anticipating the series of holidays.

This year feels different. Change has shifted into high gear, gurgling and sputtering at a surprising pace. It has become a great topic of conversation on many fronts and a force driving decisions and action in so many of the faces, families and firms surrounding us. It’s everywhere.

Our industry is experiencing change. I see a greater focus on the business side of the landscape biz. The impact of the economy, politics, employee recruitment and retention, insurance, taxes, technology—all topics prevalent in everyday conversations with contractors, manufacturers, distributors, associations and others.

TOCA is experiencing change. The development of a strategic plan is underway, preparation for the spring annual meeting is ramping up and we’re observing evolution in our own ranks, with tenured members finding new career paths, others being welcomed back into the fold and new faces becoming fast TOCA friends. Things are happening.

Within our industry and our association, one question seems to resonate across the board: how do we keep a fresh crop of quality prospects interested in green industry careers?

We put more effort into people.

An influx of engaged individuals, both newly minted and well-seasoned, creates a gorgeous blend of new ideas and historical perspective. When well nurtured and mindfully folded into the batter, the outcome is positive growth for the future.

In our lives, businesses and in TOCA, we can be positive and powerful agents of change. But for the greatest impact, alignment is key. The best stories and the greatest achievements seem to involve a mix of past, present and future.

So let’s change it up this fall.

Let’s collectively commit to “the work” of cultivating relationships. Open a dialogue with someone tenured, fresh faced or part of the up-and-coming generation. Ask them about their path. Ask them how they got here. Why they’ve stayed. Where they’d like to go. Ask them about the change they want to drive and achieve once they get there. Ask them what is needed to make it happen.

Look for clues and find a common ground. Think about what knowledge, resources or connections you have to help each other make headway. This is where true understanding begins and alignment is born.

An aligned relationship fosters engagement. Engaged people enjoy partnering with other engaged people.

The more connections we make outside of TOCA, the more our personal network (and prospective TOCA membership) grows. The more we reach out within our association, the more we develop solid, enlightened and mutually beneficial relationships. Therein lies the true value of TOCA.

So let’s put this into practice and make a connection today. Our next event is, of course, the GIE+EXPO TOCA breakfast on Friday, Oct. 19, in Louisville. Make a connection, ask someone to attend who hasn’t been to one – either as a TOCA member or maybe someone new to the organization. Just have them contact Den or Kristy at toca@gandgcomm.com. Or, really try something different and actually call them at: 952/758-6340. Might be a great way to connect one-on-one.

 

 

2018 New TOCA Members

Bob Beers, Baseline Irrigation Solutions
Veronica Biczo, Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply
Alison Blobner, LandOpt
Megan Bollish, Swanson Russell
Tessa Bonnstetter, IMRE
Ella Boyden, Ransomes Jacobsen Ltd
Petra Buric, Syngenta International – Crop Protection
Karen Carr, Irrigation Association
Victoria Carter, EnP
Hannah Christiansen, EPIC Creative
Colleen Clifford, Aquatrols
Lucas Coleman, GIE Media
Nick Collins, GIE Media
Joe Conrad, Mean Green Mowers
Karen Cooper, Turfgrass Producers Inter’l
Steve Dorer, Syngenta
Laura Drotleff, Meister Media
Trent Elmore, Martin Williams
Joe Gillespie, Aquatrols
Jake Goodman, North Coast Media
Colleen Gray, Lebanon Turf
Michael Hanisco, Aquatrols
Dan Hannan, North Coast Media
Karl Hansell, BIGGA
Abby Hart , North Coast Media
Raven Heinstein, GIE + EXPO
Sarah Huerter, GCSAA
Jeremy Husen, Alliance for Low Input Sustainable Turf
Beth Hyatt, Randall Reilly Publishing
Brett Illiff, GCSAA
Laura Johnson, Two Rivers Marketing
Kristen Martin, LandOpt
Melis Meas, Martin Williams
Rachel Mohorn, WinField United
Courtney Mullen, Advanced Turf Solutions
Audrey Newell, Global Prairie
Laura Ory, Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply
Ellie Parry, Forte Marketing
Lauren Rathmell, GIE Media
Jasmine Rosario, What’s Your Avocado?
Alyssa Sanchez, What’s Your Avocado?
Anna Slick, Martin Williams
Megan Smalley, GIE Media
Kristin Smith-Ely, Irrigation Association
Sophie Snyder, WinField United
Kham Soundara, Syngenta
Yelena Tischenko
Karen Varga, GIE Media
Sarah Webb, North Coast Media
Megan Wheeler, Cannonball
Helen Willson, Forte Marketing

TOCA Professional Communication Standards

The Professional Communication Standards (Standards) outlined in this document apply to members of the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA).  These Standards are designed to serve as a guide for TOCA members as they carry out their daily jobs in communications – in all media formats – with and to the greater Green Industry and all of its stakeholders.

As the primary communication professionals within the Green Industry, TOCA members require a level of trust with their various audiences – clients, customers, readers, etc. – and, as such, take on an obligation to operate ethically. Each member, as a representative of the communication profession and as a TOCA member, is a contributor to the reputation of this field.  We each set examples for one another, and our various audiences, by a pursuit for the common good, for excellence, and for ethical responsibility.

By design the Standards are not enforceable, rather should serve as a guide – and a benchmark – for good and ethical behavior.

These Standards have been organized to include guidelines for our members in the editorial side of the business, as well as those in marketing communications.

GENERAL STANDARDS:

We actively protect the right for the free flow of accurate and truthful information to serve the public interest and contribute to informed decision making in a democratic society.

  • We will preserve the integrity of the communication process.
  • We will be honest and accurate in all communications.
  • We will act promptly to correct inaccurate information for which we are responsible.
  • We will strive to depict only safe industry practices, unless the intent is for educational practices.
  • We will use proper judgment when giving or receiving gifts by ensuring those gifts – including travel and accommodations – are appropriate, nominal, legal and infrequent.

We promote fair competition among all communicators in order to protect an ethical climate and foster a robust business environment.

  • We will respect fair competition among professionals, organizations, and media outlets.
  • We will preserve intellectual property rights in the marketplace.
  • We will follow ethical hiring practices.

We believe open communication fosters informed decision making in a democratic society.

  • We will act promptly to correct inaccurate information for which we are responsible.
  • We will reveal sponsors of research, events and interests represented.
  • We will disclose any conflict of interest or financial interest in related organizations/businesses.
  • While recognizing the value and expertise of industry-supplied material, we also believe in a clear distinction between editorial content and advertising.
    • We discourage advertising designed to mimic editorial and recommend identification of editorial content sources
    • We discourage editorial staff being involved in creating advertiser-related material

We believe in trust within our industry and therefore require the appropriate protection of confidential and private information.

  • We will safeguard the confidences of present, former, and prospective clients, customers, audiences, information sources, etc.
  • We will protect privileged, confidential or insider information received from a colleague, peer, client, customer or information source.

 

 

 

Pointers from Poynter – Engaging with Your Audience

By Jill Odom, Total Landscape Care

Ren LaForme, Digital Tools Reporter, Poynter Institute

Ren LaForme, from the Poynter Institute, shared pointers on the digital tools for connecting with reader audiences at the 2018 TOCA Annual Meeting in May in Cincinnati.

LaForme also presented information on improving modern storytelling and transitioned to his new topic by saying once you have shared the story, you need to engage with your audience.

“The storytelling process used to be talking to your source, typing it and publishing it,” LaForme said. “The additional step is now engaging with your audience.”

Although Facebook was just introduced in 2004, when it was still called ‘thefacebook’ and MySpace was still functioning, social media has come a long way and is now used abundantly both at work and at home. Below are some of the tools and methods LaForme shared
that can help engage audiences.

Some of the first tools he highlighted were True Anthem and Echobox. While these tools are not free, they serve as artificial intelligence that ensures the right content is posted at the right time for the most reach and also looks for related content to share.

Sparemin Headliner allows professionals to combine a picture with audio, called an audiogram. This tool is very technical, according to LaForme, but it allows users the potential to have audio go viral because it can now be shared on social media.

Canva is a website that allows visitors to create images for social media. There are sizes specific to different social media platforms and predesigned layouts. LaForme says the most you’ll pay for an image on the site is $1, but you can also upload your own images to place pull quotes over.

The site Pablo is similar to Canva and is just a little faster with less options to consider.

CrowdTangle is a tool that monitors social media traffic and can be used to watch competitors as well, notifying users to when something is over- or underperforming. It can set up content discovery for certain topics. This platform is free to use, but there is currently a waitlist for access.

Yet LaForme says the best tools for connecting are the social networks themselves. Some people may be looking for the next thing to go viral, but he says this is not feasible nor sustainable in the long run. LaForme says drive-by clicks aren’t nearly as good as returning visitors, which is why cultivating audience engagement (aka loyalty) is so important.

“Audience engagement is building a relationship with your audience,” he said.

Some of the ways LaForme says you can build a relationship with the audience is by sharing interesting and related topics, sharing something personal at times to let them know you’re human, and not ignoring the wisdom of the crowd. LaForme says it’s wise from a business standpoint to know details such as your audience’s age, income, gender and career level so you know who you are posting to.

He says there are three main levels of engagement. For the low-level engagement, this is simply acknowledging what’s going on in the comments. Pointing out facts to trolls can sometimes actually lead to future stories and tagging the subjects of your work can prompt them to engage as well.

When typing social media posts, LaForme says you should stop and ask yourself if you would interact with the post. This will help you craft sentences that open the topic to discussion.

This leads to mid-level engagement, which is when you ask questions that your readers can answer (avoid the rhetorical and technical ones).

LaForme also says to be mindful of what people are engaging with and to circle back around to those topics.

High-level engagement is asking people to share pictures or stories of their own. Be mindful to have a good sense of humor about the information you’re sharing and once again ask yourself if you would do it if you saw the post.

Another option LaForme offers for engaging with your audience is to interact with them at different times during the publishing process. You can let them know what you’re working on beforehand, tweet a summary during the process and promise more, and share it with sources and on multiple platforms after publishing.

“You have to be engaging to engage users,” LaForme said.

In order to be engaging, LaForme encourages communicators to be personal but positive. Although social media is always changing, LaForme’s final thoughts on the matter is to: “Keep your chin up and to have fun. “

 

First Time Attendee

Lessons Learned at TOCA 2018

(Note: As a first time attendee to an annual TOCA meeting, we asked Courtney Mullen to give us her impressions of the Cincinnati meeting and the impact it had upon her. This is what she had to say.)

First Time Attendee

By Courtney Mullen, Xylem Marketing

To quote Rick Blaine from Casablanca, “TOCA, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

When I first began my job at Xylem Marketing, I was a newbie to the marketing world. My press releases and content writing pieces were a little rough. When my mentor (and boss) mentioned TOCA and the skills she learned from the seminars, I was excited to be able to attend. I hoped to take home valuable insights on how to improve my work.

TOCA did not disappoint! From the panel discussions and roundtables to the keynote speaker, I came away inspired. I discovered new ways to tell a story and, most importantly, how to make it memorable. The panel discussion on the first day focused on what makes up good content and how to relate to the customer and become their trusted source of information.

The second day built on crafting great content with the keynote speaker Ren LaForme sharing the latest in digital marketing tools and strategies for connecting with your audience. Later at the roundtables, I had the opportunity to meet with experienced professionals and ask their advice on everything from achieving career goals to submitting articles to their publications.

The educational and networking opportunities were top-notch, but I came away with more. As a content writer, you can sometimes feel like there is nothing more to say about a topic or this story can’t be told more interestingly—it’s just boring! However, the events at TOCA proved that you can always find a way to be creative and tell a great story. I was introduced to many great stories during my time there — like the presentation by Bradley Dick on restoring Detroit’s community parks and the incredible impact a revitalized park has on a neighborhood.

The awards program on the last night proved we could do some amazing things in our industry. The award-winning work was impressive and motivation for stepping up the creativity. Not to mention I was thrilled that a few of my colleagues were recognized for their work.

When I left TOCA, I felt re-energized in my work. I came home with new ideas and a desire to challenge myself and see what new things I can bring to the industry. If a friendship is supposed to inspire and support, then yes, TOCA, it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

 

Lessons in Content Marketing

Lessons Learned at TOCA 2018


Lessons in Content Marketing

By Dawn Rigby, Managing Director, Xylem Marketing

Content Marketing Panel at TOCA 2018 Annual Meeting, featuring from left to right Veronica Biczo, Bethany Chambers, Matthew McArdle, and Jason Schmaderer.

During the content marketing panel discussion at the annual TOCA meeting in Cincinnati in May, experts representing the green industry media, agency, and manufacturer perspectives shared the latest trends in content marketing.

Bethany Chambers, director of audience engagement at North Coast Media, Matthew McArdle, creative copywriter at Hunter Industries, and Jason Schmaderer, account director at Swanson Russell were panelists. Veronica Biczo, public relations manager at Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply, moderated the discussion.

The word “content” encompasses many different forms of media, and within the subject of content marketing, there are multiple terms and buzzwords used throughout the industry. The discussion among panelists began with definitions.


What is content marketing, why is it important, and what are the benefits of it?

Chambers explained that North Coast Media’s content marketing committee defines content marketing as, “the marketing technique that emphasizes the communication and distribution of relevant, interesting, and educational content that is targeted to the audience and meant to generate engagement.” She also defined sponsored content as the content itself and native advertising as one delivery method that exists within the content marketing technique.

Chambers cited research from the Content Marketing Institute indicating that customers preferred reading articles over traditional ads. She went on to explain how quality content contributes to building a reputation, and that while traditional advertising is useful at generating buzz and building excitement, it is less effective than content marketing at building lasting relationships with customers.

McArdle described content marketing as anything that brings value to their customers and helps them engage with the brand and build trust with them as a manufacturer. Content marketing allows a manufacturer to be a trusted source of information, education, and value for customers.

From the agency perspective, Schmaderer defined content marketing as any quality information that helps move someone along the decision journey. He described traditional marketing as being about the interruption. Today, customers are in charge, and they choose when to engage.

According to Schmaderer, “It’s our job as marketers to find out where our customers are, when they’re going to be there, and what they want. Content is one format to give them what they’re looking for when they want it rather than interrupting.”


How do you measure the effectiveness of content marketing?

While the panelists agreed that there is no one perfect way to measure content marketing, each shared advice on the subject. Schmaderer recommended connecting the line between marketing and sales and comparing results of content marketing against other forms of marketing. Chambers suggested defining what you consider success, and McArdle described specific metrics
used to measure success.

Quantitative metrics, like click-through rates, time on pages, social shares, and the number of followers, are useful indicators to measure the effectiveness of content. Social media also provides qualitative data, like customer comments, which allow marketers to adjust their campaigns in real time based on real-time feedback.


How do you get approval to spend resources on content marketing?

McArdle spoke to the corporate marketing side from the perspective of Hunter Industries, explaining that managers can see value and results from content marketing. While he did not see it as a big challenge, McArdle suggested sharing analytics with managers to gain support and funding for content marketing.

From the agency perspective of convincing clients to invest in content, Schmaderer explained that most brands already see the value in content marketing, but clients can be nervous about the unknown, like shooting video or recording a podcast. Ultimately, it all comes down to the client’s objectives and the key performance indicators being measured. Schmaderer explained, “Can we move the needle using content marketing to drive the actions that our client wants to see happen? And if we don’t think we can do that with content marketing, then we look to other options.”


How should PR folks share their content with editors?

Chambers shared advice for building successful relationships with the media. Get to know the editors, and only send content that is relevant to their audience. Go to your media partners, ask about opportunities and share your expertise. Submit your news in a timely fashion. Most importantly, build relationships. Chambers said that events like the TOCA annual meeting are increasingly incredibly important for your PR strategy because it is an opportunity to build relationships.


What makes remarkable content?

Regardless of whether you are in the publishing, manufacturing,  agency or association side of the green industry, try these expert tips from the panelists for creating remarkable content.

  • Tell a story.
  • Share an “aha” moment.
  • Use mixed media and multiple platforms.
  • Select delivery channels based on your audience and the message.
  • Vary content to keep it fresh.
  • Inspire your audience to think differently.
  • Focus on the customer.
  • Embrace digital content like videos and social media.
  • Don’t be generic in your content.
  • Try new things and test them.
  • Less is more. Do a few things very well.
  • Share content that is relevant, valuable, and entertaining.

 

Ren LaForme of Poynter Institute on Digital Toolbox and Tools To Connect with Audiences


Lessons Learned at TOCA 2018

(Note:  Ren LaForme, from the Poynter Institute, gave a two-part presentation at the 2018 TOCA Annual Meeting. Scott Covelli recaps through his observations the first part –Digital Tools for Modern Storytelling — while Jill Odom summarizes the second part — Tools for Connecting with Audiences.) 



Filling Your Digital Toolbox: Poynter Keynote Presentation

By Scott Covelli, EPIC Creative

“A hammer doesn’t make a good carpenter.”

But it’s awfully helpful, isn’t it? Ren LaForme of the Poynter Institute shared this metaphor early on in his presentation about digital tools — and it set the tone for a presentation at the TOCA annual meeting full of useful tools for journalists and marketers. No tool is going to turn you into a good storyteller, but a unique digital tool can help take your story to the next level.

LaForme challenged the room full of marketers and journalists to ask the question: “Is there a better, more interesting way to tell this story?” Then, he gave us some ways to make that possible. He said that many people don’t use digital tools because of money, time or because of the “haters” who denounce them, but the tools he shared are almost all free, and actually save you time in the long run.

The first chunk of tools all came from Northwestern University’s Knight Lab.  They centered around engaging the reader or viewer in your story. LaForme reminded us to always think of the audience. What would make them understand the story better? What would catch their eye or keep their attention?

In a wonderful whirlwind, LaForme introduced us to these digital tools for storytelling:

  • StoryMapJS: This tool helps you illustrate events or locations on a map to tell your story. If you’re showcasing fun nightlife spots in a city or highlighting the memorable holes on a golf course, this can be an engaging visual element.
  • SceneVR: Zoom in to different parts of a photo to immerse yourself in the details.
  • TimelineJS: Similar to StoryMap, but organized in a horizontal timeline.
  • JuxtaposeJS: Compare two images with a slider function, best used for before-and-after type stories.
  • SoundciteJS: This tool puts audio into a hyperlink right in your story so you don’t have to break up the layout with what looks like a banner ad.

As we’ve heard for years now, we’re in the most visual age ever and video content is crucial. LaForme addressed that issue as well with some of these key video tools:

  • Verse: It features all kinds of applications, including Q&A organization, chapters, and clickable “hotspots” on videos.
  • Videoshop: It’s intuitive mobile video editing when you’re putting together content on the go.
  • Videolicious: Add in b-roll to a story in real-time.
  • Clips: Automatically adds captions to your videos that you can edit.

And of course, we can always be more productive and efficient. Great tools help us do a great job while also saving us time. He had some answers to those problems too:

  • Tetra: This app records your phone conversations and transcribes them for you, perfect for phone interviews.
  • Trint: This one does the same thing as Tetra, but for videos instead of phone calls.
  • Descript: If you’re editing audio, it transcribes it and then you can edit it based on the words instead of the sound file. It’s like magic.
  • Calendly: Regardless of what kind of email service you have, Calendly helps send seamless meeting invites, or time frames so you can plan meetings better.

As he wrapped up, he gave some final tips on how to get buy-in from your team on adopting some of these tools. First, he simply said to try it. There’s nothing like hands-on experience, and you won’t know how you like it or benefit from it until you try it. Also, LaForme recommended committing to a trial period. More people will be willing to test something if there’s a defined trial period (three months, two weeks, whatever you decide). Lastly, you need to debrief on it after the trial period to hear people’s honest feedback.

When we use tools that make our stories—or our clients’ stories—more interesting and help us be more efficient and effective, we do better work and we’ll feel better too. And we can all get behind that.


Lessons Learned at TOCA 2018

Pointers from Poynter – Engaging with Your Audience

By Jill Odom, Total Landscape Care

Ren LaForme, Digital Tools Reporter, Poynter Institute

Ren LaForme, from the Poynter Institute, shared pointers on the digital tools for connecting with reader audiences at the 2018 TOCA Annual Meeting in May in Cincinnati.

LaForme also presented information on improving modern storytelling and transitioned to his new topic by saying once you have shared the story, you need to engage with your audience.

“The storytelling process used to be talking to your source, typing it and publishing it,” LaForme said. “The additional step is now engaging with your audience.”

Although Facebook was just introduced in 2004, when it was still called ‘thefacebook’ and MySpace was still functioning, social media has come a long way and is now used abundantly both at work and at home. Below are some of the tools and methods LaForme shared
that can help engage audiences.

Some of the first tools he highlighted were True Anthem and Echobox. While these tools are not free, they serve as artificial intelligence that ensures the right content is posted at the right time for the most reach and also looks for related content to share.

Sparemin Headliner allows professionals to combine a picture with audio, called an audiogram. This tool is very technical, according to LaForme, but it allows users the potential to have audio go viral because it can now be shared on social media.

Canva is a website that allows visitors to create images for social media. There are sizes specific to different social media platforms and predesigned layouts. LaForme says the most you’ll pay for an image on the site is $1, but you can also upload your own images to place pull quotes over.

The site Pablo is similar to Canva and is just a little faster with less options to consider.

CrowdTangle is a tool that monitors social media traffic and can be used to watch competitors as well, notifying users to when something is over- or underperforming. It can set up content discovery for certain topics. This platform is free to use, but there is currently a waitlist for access.

Yet LaForme says the best tools for connecting are the social networks themselves. Some people may be looking for the next thing to go viral, but he says this is not feasible nor sustainable in the long run. LaForme says drive-by clicks aren’t nearly as good as returning visitors, which is why cultivating audience engagement (aka loyalty) is so important.

“Audience engagement is building a relationship with your audience,” he said.

Some of the ways LaForme says you can build a relationship with the audience is by sharing interesting and related topics, sharing something personal at times to let them know you’re human, and not ignoring the wisdom of the crowd. LaForme says it’s wise from a business standpoint to know details such as your audience’s age, income, gender and career level so you know who you are posting to.

He says there are three main levels of engagement. For the low-level engagement, this is simply acknowledging what’s going on in the comments. Pointing out facts to trolls can sometimes actually lead to future stories and tagging the subjects of your work can prompt them to engage as well.

When typing social media posts, LaForme says you should stop and ask yourself if you would interact with the post. This will help you craft sentences that open the topic to discussion.

This leads to mid-level engagement, which is when you ask questions that your readers can answer (avoid the rhetorical and technical ones).

LaForme also says to be mindful of what people are engaging with and to circle back around to those topics.

High-level engagement is asking people to share pictures or stories of their own. Be mindful to have a good sense of humor about the information you’re sharing and once again ask yourself if you would do it if you saw the post.

Another option LaForme offers for engaging with your audience is to interact with them at different times during the publishing process. You can let them know what you’re working on beforehand, tweet a summary during the process and promise more, and share it with sources and on multiple platforms after publishing.

“You have to be engaging to engage users,” LaForme said.

In order to be engaging, LaForme encourages communicators to be personal but positive. Although social media is always changing, LaForme’s final thoughts on the matter is to: “Keep your chin up and to have fun. “

 

Roundtable Roundup

By Britney Riggs, Digital Marketing Specialist, Xylem Marketing

The TOCA roundtables were a great way for us all to share and learn best practices and tips from each other. Below is information from two roundtables:

  1. Measurement + Evaluation; and
  2. Productivity + Hacks to help make your job easier.


Roundtables:  Measurement and Evaluation

Measurements of which to be aware:

Awareness

  • How conscious consumers are of a company
  • Example of measurement: social mentions

Engagement

  • How consumers interact with a brand
  • Example of measurement: comments on social

 Audience growth

  • Growing your customer base
  • Example of measurement: Twitter follower growth

Key takeaways

  • Spend 15% of a project measuring
  • Do not waste money on stuff that doesn’t work
  • If you’re not going to measure a project, think twice about doing it
  • Before you start a project, figure out the success measurement you want to use
  • Compare campaigns and see what you need to cut
  • Do A/B testing
  • Long periods of time are useful to get an accurate picture

 

Roundtables:  Productivity and Hacks

 Biggest time wasters:

  • Meetings
    • How to minimize the time waster: have an agenda, try standing meetings, and block off time
  • E-mail
    • How to minimize the time waster: turn off notifications from time to time, look at your email only a few times a day (set a reminder in your e-mail provider), put emails in to do lists, and use time tracking tools, like Basecamp or Workfront, to organize projects from e-mail

Signals to alert co-workers you’re trying to be productive:

  • Close the door
  • Wear ear buds
  • Use red and green (or any agreed upon colors) cards to signify you really need to be productive
    • Green means they can speak to you
    • Red means you really need to work

When you really need to get stuff accomplished try:

  • Deep focus music on Spotify
  • Coffitivity – Recreates the ambient sounds of a café to boost creativity
  • Meditation music
  • Stay later
  • Beat the crowd
  • Walk somewhere else, like a Starbucks if you can
  • Limit multitasking
  • Do not open another web browser unless necessary
  • Take small breaks
  • Nope button – The app that sends a call to your phone when coworkers are distracting

 

Summer 2018 Running Column

By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent

TOCA Runners Club at TOCA 2018 Annual Meeting.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the TOCA Run/Walk at the annual meeting in May in beautiful Cincinnati. . We appreciate the great turnout and look forward to similar numbers next year in Charlotte. It was also great to see so many of you at the TOCA annual meeting and especially wonderful to run alongside (or mostly behind) so many of you at the walk/run.

As with most regular columns, the emails and text messages that follow each edition of TOCA Talk and this column seem endless. That is certainly true this time. As most of the questions deal with my love of exercise and running/walking, I feel it necessary to briefly reflect on my own
history of running.

I started running at age 30 at the behest of my neighbor – a MN Hall of Fame Cross Country Coach. (Editor’s Note: It should be noted that brother and TOCA Executive Director Den Gardner had been running for years prior to that – not inspiring Dan at all.)

After working out and running a race that first summer – and finishing in 276th place (do you wonder what color the ribbon was for that finish?), I was hooked on the great feeling one had WHEN FINISHED!! Yes – running is not the easiest form of exercise. It is, however, one that brings great satisfaction. The right to say “I ran three miles today” brings great joy to the heart (in more ways than one . . .). So keep working out – even if it is one mile/day. That walk or run or jog will give you a great feeling of accomplishment.

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!

TOCA Welcomes Newbies

By Debbie Clayton, Clayton Communications

For the first time in 2018, TOCA welcomed “Newbies” — or first-time attendees to the annual meeting — with a sponsored dinner the night before the meeting officially began.

An idea spawned by the TOCA Professional Development Committee, the dinner served two purposes:  introducing Newbies to each other and other members, and providing a venue for non-board members to get together.

Since the annual meeting starts early on Wednesday morning, most attendees arrive the day before it begins. Traditionally, board members meet on Tuesday afternoon and are treated to a dinner that night. But other members and newcomers were generally left on their own.

“We felt the dinner provided a much-needed ice-breaker to kick the meeting off,” says Dawn Rigby, Professional Development Committee member. “We held a happy hour the year before but it just didn’t seem enough. When Ewing Irrigation and Focal Point Communications stepped up to sponsor the dinner for Newbies, we went along with the concept! Non-board members who had previously attended TOCA were invited along at their own expense.”

For many years, each board member has chosen one or two Newbies to ‘mentor’ during the meeting. They answer questions, make introductions and show them the ropes. But their interactions don’t usually start until the meeting gets underway.

Having a special, sponsored dinner the night before the meeting began got the ball rolling even sooner. Everyone seemed to agree — a new tradition was born for welcoming TOCA Newbies!

 

LESSONS LEARNED AT TOCA 2018

Lessons Learned at TOCA 2018

The following articles contain valuable professional development tips and education, as presented at the 2018 TOCA annual meeting. Read on to learn more!


Roundtable Roundup

By Britney Riggs, Digital Marketing Specialist, Xylem Marketing

The TOCA roundtables were a great way for us all to share and learn best practices and tips from each other. Below is information from two roundtables:

  1. Measurement + Evaluation; and
  2. Productivity + Hacks to help make your job easier.


Roundtables:  Measurement and Evaluation

Measurements of which to be aware:

Awareness

  • How conscious consumers are of a company
  • Example of measurement: social mentions

Engagement

  • How consumers interact with a brand
  • Example of measurement: comments on social

 Audience growth

  • Growing your customer base
  • Example of measurement: Twitter follower growth

Key takeaways

  • Spend 15% of a project measuring
  • Do not waste money on stuff that doesn’t work
  • If you’re not going to measure a project, think twice about doing it
  • Before you start a project, figure out the success measurement you want to use
  • Compare campaigns and see what you need to cut
  • Do A/B testing
  • Long periods of time are useful to get an accurate picture

 

Roundtables:  Productivity and Hacks

 Biggest time wasters:

  • Meetings
    • How to minimize the time waster: have an agenda, try standing meetings, and block off time
  • E-mail
    • How to minimize the time waster: turn off notifications from time to time, look at your email only a few times a day (set a reminder in your e-mail provider), put emails in to do lists, and use time tracking tools, like Basecamp or Workfront, to organize projects from e-mail

Signals to alert co-workers you’re trying to be productive:

  • Close the door
  • Wear ear buds
  • Use red and green (or any agreed upon colors) cards to signify you really need to be productive
    • Green means they can speak to you
    • Red means you really need to work

When you really need to get stuff accomplished try:

  • Deep focus music on Spotify
  • Coffitivity – Recreates the ambient sounds of a café to boost creativity
  • Meditation music
  • Stay later
  • Beat the crowd
  • Walk somewhere else, like a Starbucks if you can
  • Limit multitasking
  • Do not open another web browser unless necessary
  • Take small breaks
  • Nope button – The app that sends a call to your phone when coworkers are distracting

 


Lessons Learned at TOCA 2018

(Note:  Ren LaForme, from the Poynter Institute, gave a two-part presentation at the 2018 TOCA Annual Meeting. Scott Covelli recaps through his observations the first part –Digital Tools for Modern Storytelling — while Jill Odom summarizes the second part — Tools for Connecting with Audiences.) 


Filling Your Digital Toolbox: Poynter Keynote Presentation

By Scott Covelli, EPIC Creative

“A hammer doesn’t make a good carpenter.”

But it’s awfully helpful, isn’t it? Ren LaForme of the Poynter Institute shared this metaphor early on in his presentation about digital tools — and it set the tone for a presentation at the TOCA annual meeting full of useful tools for journalists and marketers. No tool is going to turn you into a good storyteller, but a unique digital tool can help take your story to the next level.

LaForme challenged the room full of marketers and journalists to ask the question: “Is there a better, more interesting way to tell this story?” Then, he gave us some ways to make that possible. He said that many people don’t use digital tools because of money, time or because of the “haters” who denounce them, but the tools he shared are almost all free, and actually save you time in the long run.

The first chunk of tools all came from Northwestern University’s Knight Lab.  They centered around engaging the reader or viewer in your story. LaForme reminded us to always think of the audience. What would make them understand the story better? What would catch their eye or keep their attention?

In a wonderful whirlwind, LaForme introduced us to these digital tools for storytelling:

  • StoryMapJS: This tool helps you illustrate events or locations on a map to tell your story. If you’re showcasing fun nightlife spots in a city or highlighting the memorable holes on a golf course, this can be an engaging visual element.
  • SceneVR: Zoom in to different parts of a photo to immerse yourself in the details.
  • TimelineJS: Similar to StoryMap, but organized in a horizontal timeline.
  • JuxtaposeJS: Compare two images with a slider function, best used for before-and-after type stories.
  • SoundciteJS: This tool puts audio into a hyperlink right in your story so you don’t have to break up the layout with what looks like a banner ad.

As we’ve heard for years now, we’re in the most visual age ever and video content is crucial. LaForme addressed that issue as well with some of these key video tools:

  • Verse: It features all kinds of applications, including Q&A organization, chapters, and clickable “hotspots” on videos.
  • Videoshop: It’s intuitive mobile video editing when you’re putting together content on the go.
  • Videolicious: Add in b-roll to a story in real-time.
  • Clips: Automatically adds captions to your videos that you can edit.

And of course, we can always be more productive and efficient. Great tools help us do a great job while also saving us time. He had some answers to those problems too:

  • Tetra: This app records your phone conversations and transcribes them for you, perfect for phone interviews.
  • Trint: This one does the same thing as Tetra, but for videos instead of phone calls.
  • Descript: If you’re editing audio, it transcribes it and then you can edit it based on the words instead of the sound file. It’s like magic.
  • Calendly: Regardless of what kind of email service you have, Calendly helps send seamless meeting invites, or time frames so you can plan meetings better.

As he wrapped up, he gave some final tips on how to get buy-in from your team on adopting some of these tools. First, he simply said to try it. There’s nothing like hands-on experience, and you won’t know how you like it or benefit from it until you try it. Also, LaForme recommended committing to a trial period. More people will be willing to test something if there’s a defined trial period (three months, two weeks, whatever you decide). Lastly, you need to debrief on it after the trial period to hear people’s honest feedback.

When we use tools that make our stories—or our clients’ stories—more interesting and help us be more efficient and effective, we do better work and we’ll feel better too. And we can all get behind that.

 


Lessons Learned at TOCA 2018

Pointers from Poynter – Engaging with Your Audience

By Jill Odom, Total Landscape Care

Ren LaForme, Digital Tools Reporter, Poynter Institute

Ren LaForme, from the Poynter Institute, shared pointers on the digital tools for connecting with reader audiences at the 2018 TOCA Annual Meeting in May in Cincinnati.

LaForme also presented information on improving modern storytelling and transitioned to his new topic by saying once you have shared the story, you need to engage with your audience.

“The storytelling process used to be talking to your source, typing it and publishing it,” LaForme said. “The additional step is now engaging with your audience.”

Although Facebook was just introduced in 2004, when it was still called ‘thefacebook’ and MySpace was still functioning, social media has come a long way and is now used abundantly both at work and at home. Below are some of the tools and methods LaForme shared
that can help engage audiences.

Some of the first tools he highlighted were True Anthem and Echobox. While these tools are not free, they serve as artificial intelligence that ensures the right content is posted at the right time for the most reach and also looks for related content to share.

Sparemin Headliner allows professionals to combine a picture with audio, called an audiogram. This tool is very technical, according to LaForme, but it allows users the potential to have audio go viral because it can now be shared on social media.

Canva is a website that allows visitors to create images for social media. There are sizes specific to different social media platforms and predesigned layouts. LaForme says the most you’ll pay for an image on the site is $1, but you can also upload your own images to place pull quotes over.

The site Pablo is similar to Canva and is just a little faster with less options to consider.

CrowdTangle is a tool that monitors social media traffic and can be used to watch competitors as well, notifying users to when something is over- or underperforming. It can set up content discovery for certain topics. This platform is free to use, but there is currently a waitlist for access.

Yet LaForme says the best tools for connecting are the social networks themselves. Some people may be looking for the next thing to go viral, but he says this is not feasible nor sustainable in the long run. LaForme says drive-by clicks aren’t nearly as good as returning visitors, which is why cultivating audience engagement (aka loyalty) is so important.

“Audience engagement is building a relationship with your audience,” he said.

Some of the ways LaForme says you can build a relationship with the audience is by sharing interesting and related topics, sharing something personal at times to let them know you’re human, and not ignoring the wisdom of the crowd. LaForme says it’s wise from a business standpoint to know details such as your audience’s age, income, gender and career level so you know who you are posting to.

He says there are three main levels of engagement. For the low-level engagement, this is simply acknowledging what’s going on in the comments. Pointing out facts to trolls can sometimes actually lead to future stories and tagging the subjects of your work can prompt them to engage as well.

When typing social media posts, LaForme says you should stop and ask yourself if you would interact with the post. This will help you craft sentences that open the topic to discussion.

This leads to mid-level engagement, which is when you ask questions that your readers can answer (avoid the rhetorical and technical ones).

LaForme also says to be mindful of what people are engaging with and to circle back around to those topics.

High-level engagement is asking people to share pictures or stories of their own. Be mindful to have a good sense of humor about the information you’re sharing and once again ask yourself if you would do it if you saw the post.

Another option LaForme offers for engaging with your audience is to interact with them at different times during the publishing process. You can let them know what you’re working on beforehand, tweet a summary during the process and promise more, and share it with sources and on multiple platforms after publishing.

“You have to be engaging to engage users,” LaForme said.

In order to be engaging, LaForme encourages communicators to be personal but positive. Although social media is always changing, LaForme’s final thoughts on the matter is to: “Keep your chin up and to have fun. “

 


Lessons Learned at TOCA 2018


Lessons in Content Marketing

By Dawn Rigby, Managing Director, Xylem Marketing

Content Marketing Panel at TOCA 2018 Annual Meeting, featuring from left to right Veronica Biczo, Bethany Chambers, Matthew McArdle, and Jason Schmaderer.

During the content marketing panel discussion at the annual TOCA meeting in Cincinnati in May, experts representing the green industry media, agency, and manufacturer perspectives shared the latest trends in content marketing.

Bethany Chambers, director of audience engagement at North Coast Media, Matthew McArdle, creative copywriter at Hunter Industries, and Jason Schmaderer, account director at Swanson Russell were panelists. Veronica Biczo, public relations manager at Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply, moderated the discussion.

The word “content” encompasses many different forms of media, and within the subject of content marketing, there are multiple terms and buzzwords used throughout the industry. The discussion among panelists began with definitions.


What is content marketing, why is it important, and what are the benefits of it?

Chambers explained that North Coast Media’s content marketing committee defines content marketing as, “the marketing technique that emphasizes the communication and distribution of relevant, interesting, and educational content that is targeted to the audience and meant to generate engagement.” She also defined sponsored content as the content itself and native advertising as one delivery method that exists within the content marketing technique.

Chambers cited research from the Content Marketing Institute indicating that customers preferred reading articles over traditional ads. She went on to explain how quality content contributes to building a reputation, and that while traditional advertising is useful at generating buzz and building excitement, it is less effective than content marketing at building lasting relationships with customers.

McArdle described content marketing as anything that brings value to their customers and helps them engage with the brand and build trust with them as a manufacturer. Content marketing allows a manufacturer to be a trusted source of information, education, and value for customers.

From the agency perspective, Schmaderer defined content marketing as any quality information that helps move someone along the decision journey. He described traditional marketing as being about the interruption. Today, customers are in charge, and they choose when to engage.

According to Schmaderer, “It’s our job as marketers to find out where our customers are, when they’re going to be there, and what they want. Content is one format to give them what they’re looking for when they want it rather than interrupting.”


How do you measure the effectiveness of content marketing?

While the panelists agreed that there is no one perfect way to measure content marketing, each shared advice on the subject. Schmaderer recommended connecting the line between marketing and sales and comparing results of content marketing against other forms of marketing. Chambers suggested defining what you consider success, and McArdle described specific metrics
used to measure success.

Quantitative metrics, like click-through rates, time on pages, social shares, and the number of followers, are useful indicators to measure the effectiveness of content. Social media also provides qualitative data, like customer comments, which allow marketers to adjust their campaigns in real time based on real-time feedback.


How do you get approval to spend resources on content marketing?

McArdle spoke to the corporate marketing side from the perspective of Hunter Industries, explaining that managers can see value and results from content marketing. While he did not see it as a big challenge, McArdle suggested sharing analytics with managers to gain support and funding for content marketing.

From the agency perspective of convincing clients to invest in content, Schmaderer explained that most brands already see the value in content marketing, but clients can be nervous about the unknown, like shooting video or recording a podcast. Ultimately, it all comes down to the client’s objectives and the key performance indicators being measured. Schmaderer explained, “Can we move the needle using content marketing to drive the actions that our client wants to see happen? And if we don’t think we can do that with content marketing, then we look to other options.”


How should PR folks share their content with editors?

Chambers shared advice for building successful relationships with the media. Get to know the editors, and only send content that is relevant to their audience. Go to your media partners, ask about opportunities and share your expertise. Submit your news in a timely fashion. Most importantly, build relationships. Chambers said that events like the TOCA annual meeting are increasingly incredibly important for your PR strategy because it is an opportunity to build relationships.


What makes remarkable content?

Regardless of whether you are in the publishing, manufacturing,  agency or association side of the green industry, try these expert tips from the panelists for creating remarkable content.

  • Tell a story.
  • Share an “aha” moment.
  • Use mixed media and multiple platforms.
  • Select delivery channels based on your audience and the message.
  • Vary content to keep it fresh.
  • Inspire your audience to think differently.
  • Focus on the customer.
  • Embrace digital content like videos and social media.
  • Don’t be generic in your content.
  • Try new things and test them.
  • Less is more. Do a few things very well.
  • Share content that is relevant, valuable, and entertaining.

 


Lessons Learned at TOCA 2018

(Note: As a first time attendee to an annual TOCA meeting, we asked Courtney Mullen to give us her impressions of the Cincinnati meeting and the impact it had upon her. This is what she had to say.)

First Time Attendee

By Courtney Mullen, Xylem Marketing

To quote Rick Blaine from Casablanca, “TOCA, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

When I first began my job at Xylem Marketing, I was a newbie to the marketing world. My press releases and content writing pieces were a little rough. When my mentor (and boss) mentioned TOCA and the skills she learned from the seminars, I was excited to be able to attend. I hoped to take home valuable insights on how to improve my work.

TOCA did not disappoint! From the panel discussions and roundtables to the keynote speaker, I came away inspired. I discovered new ways to tell a story and, most importantly, how to make it memorable. The panel discussion on the first day focused on what makes up good content and how to relate to the customer and become their trusted source of information.

The second day built on crafting great content with the keynote speaker Ren LaForme sharing the latest in digital marketing tools and strategies for connecting with your audience. Later at the roundtables, I had the opportunity to meet with experienced professionals and ask their advice on everything from achieving career goals to submitting articles to their publications.

The educational and networking opportunities were top-notch, but I came away with more. As a content writer, you can sometimes feel like there is nothing more to say about a topic or this story can’t be told more interestingly—it’s just boring! However, the events at TOCA proved that you can always find a way to be creative and tell a great story. I was introduced to many great stories during my time there — like the presentation by Bradley Dick on restoring Detroit’s community parks and the incredible impact a revitalized park has on a neighborhood.

The awards program on the last night proved we could do some amazing things in our industry. The award-winning work was impressive and motivation for stepping up the creativity. Not to mention I was thrilled that a few of my colleagues were recognized for their work.

When I left TOCA, I felt re-energized in my work. I came home with new ideas and a desire to challenge myself and see what new things I can bring to the industry. If a friendship is supposed to inspire and support, then yes, TOCA, it is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

 

My TOCA Experience, From Across the Pond

By Ella Boyden, PR and Communications Officer, Ransomes Jacobsen

I was recently lucky enough to be chosen as the international recipient of the TOCA stipend to attend the 2018 annual meeting in Cincinnati. I was thrilled when I received the email, and soon looked into booking flights to The Queen City!

I arrived in Cincinnati on Tuesday 1st May via JFK, New York. As soon as I reached the hotel, it was time for a quick change before heading out for the ‘newcomers meal’ at Moerlein Lager House. Despite the slight jetlag, I was pleased I went along; it was brilliant to meet some of the people I would be sharing my first TOCA experience with, and chat with them over a pint (or two) of Vienna lager!

The first day of the TOCA meeting was insightful: the content marketing panel provided a lot of food for thought, and the bus tour to the Great American Ballpark and Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum was a great way to see the city and experience my first visit to a baseball stadium.

The second, and last day of the TOCA meeting was fantastic; I learnt some useful digital marketing tools in the seminars by Ren LaForme, and the round tables in the afternoon were a great opportunity to discuss common workplace challenges and how to overcome these. I picked up some good ideas from peers that I have shared with my team in the U.K.

At the end of the TOCA meeting, I had a quick stop in Chicago on my way back home to experience the art, the pizza, and the Skydeck… the perfect way to end my trip! My experience of the TOCA meeting was one I will never forget; the networking opportunity, the education, and the peer discussions were invaluable, and I sincerely thank TOCA for providing me with the opportunity to experience it. I hope to be able to help grow TOCA internationally so that others can share the benefits of being a part of unique association. I look forward to attending a TOCA meeting in Europe soon!

 

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan Named the 2018 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year

By Cindy Code, Project EverGreen

 

The Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) and Project EverGreen named Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan as the recipient of the 2018 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year Award.

The award, which recognizes individuals for outstanding communications efforts pertaining to green spaces and environmental issues, was presented during the TOCA Annual Conference in Cincinnati. He is the 20th recipient of this award.

Mayor of Detroit since 2014, Duggan announced an investment of $11.7 million to improve 40 neighborhood parks across the city of Detroit in 2016-17. Project EverGreen worked with the city, local businesses and community groups to renovate 18-acre Pingree Park
starting last November.

The city’s parks had been in decline due to budget constraints, but as downtown Detroit experienced a renaissance, Duggan wanted to make sure the neighborhoods didn’t get left behind. The 40 parks were chosen based on key criteria including those with the highest concentration of children and senior citizens close by.

Bradley Dick, director general of the City of Detroit services department , accepted the Award on behalf of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Accepting the award for the mayor, Bradley Dick, director general services department said, “Parks are the heart and soul of the city. The mayor’s progressive initiative to renovate 40 parks across the city helps to reduce blight and restore community pride.”

Promoting and communicating the substantial value of establishing a greener, cooler Earth through the creation, renovation and revitalization of managed recreational and athletic green spaces that result in healthier, happier people is
at the core of Project EverGreen’s mission.

“Project EverGreen is pleased to recognize Mayor Duggan with this well-deserved honor,” said Cindy Code, executive director of Project EverGreen. “Well-maintained parks are transformational. They serve as community hubs, creating positive neighborhood relationships. Additionally, Pingree Park, along with the 40 other renovated Detroit parks combined, absorb almost enough carbon to offset an average car traveling 53,438 miles.”

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

 




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