The Winter 2017 issue of TOCA Talk is sponsored by EnP.
EnP has been Engineering Optimal Plant Health for nearly 30 years. We manufacture liquid and dry fertilizers under three brands: EnP Turf, Foliar-Pak, and Age Old Nutrients. We believe that collaboration and the exchange of ideas are essential for innovation, which is why we are proud to support the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association.
Getting out of your comfort zone
In December, I had the opportunity to attend a unique educational event for golf course superintendents presented by one of TOCAs loyal sponsors, Syngenta. The three-day event was unique because it didnt cover the territory you might expect it would cover. There was no agronomy, no talk of turf diseases or Syngenta reps pushing the latest fungicides or pesticides.
Instead, the 26 superintendents from across the country came together in Winston-Salem, N.C., to talk business, to absorb advanced, executive-level education presented by staff from Wake Forest Universitys School of Business. They were there to take deep dives into areas such as financial management, negotiating and leadership.
The curriculum covered topics that most wouldnt normally associate with turfgrass managers and their desired professional development goals. Yet, almost to a man, the superintendents I spoke with told me thats exactly why they wanted to take part in these proceedings. Being forced out of their comfort zone in this way made this event now in its eighth year extremely attractive to them. And they werent alone in all, more than 90 superintendents applied for the 26 open slots in this years class.
As I sat through these sessions, I thought about TOCAs own premier professional-development event, our Annual Meeting, set for May 2-4, 2017 at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, Fla. Ive played a small role in the planning of this event, and I can tell you that as we worked to identify potential topics for the sessions in Tampa, we did our best to look for the new, the different, the unique topics that would take you out of your own professional comfort zone.
Ours is a diverse membership with diverse professional needs. We have editors and publishers of trade publications. We have public relations practitioners. We have marketers, video production experts, social media specialists. Trying to identify areas of study that appeal equally to each of those groups is, in a word, challenging.
But I believe that TOCA has done a good job of identifying topics for its annual meeting that will hold common interest for all of us, regardless of job title, and improve our professional skills and abilities. And weve tried to put spins on those topics so were not hearing the same old message, that were expanding into new territories and were being pushed out of our comfort zones like the superintendents who attended Syngentas business event.
This year, the annual meeting will feature sessions on second-generation social media use by business, agencies, publications and end users. It will explore tips and tricks to help improve your technical writing skills. And it will offer an in-depth look at crisis communications and how to guide your organization or your clients through those stormy waters.
Stepping out of your comfort zone can be an unsettling experience. But the superintendents who took that leap in December learned just how valuable that exercise can ultimately be. I hope many of you will experience the same thing at TOCAs Annual Meeting, and I look forward to seeing you all in Tampa.
TOCA, Jacobsen, Syngenta and GCSAA/Golf Course Management Magazine Offer
New Member Breakfast Reception at Golf Industry Show (GIS)
You are invited to the breakfast reception at the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in Orlando, Fla. Get together with your domestic and international TOCA friends, invite new folks to join us and enjoy the breakfast, sponsored by Jacobsen and Syngenta, along with GCSAA.
For Whom: TOCA Members and Invited Guests
When: Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Where: Rosen Centre Hotel, Salon 7/8
Time: 7:00-8:15 a.m. breakfast and TOCA update
Please feel free to invite colleagues and prospective members to the breakfast.
Watch your inbox for the invitation and reminders. Please remember to RSVP. Any questions, you may contact Den Gardner or Kristy Mach at 952-758-6340 or e-mail email@example.com.
Thanks and see you in Orlando!
Resorting to Revving Up Your Communications
By Den Gardner and Scott Hollister
TOCAs 28th annual meeting returns to Florida for only the second time and the first time since 1999 in its history as Tampa is the site from May 2-5 at Saddlebrook Resort.
TOCAs Annual Meeting Committee has worked hard to plan an event with great professional development, tours, networking and the presentation of our associations communications awards for the best writing, design, photo and video production work in the business.
Highlighting the professional development portion of the annual meeting will be two sessions with Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar and vice president with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. Clark is an author of three books on writing and a noted writing coach who has worked with journalists and writers all over the world. Clark will share his business writing expertise with TOCA members during a pair of Thursday morning sessions in Tampa.
The professional development slate in Tampa will also include sessions on social media that will take attendees far past the basics and focus on how best publications, agencies, associations and companies can use the medium to connect with their audiences. And yet another session will offer expert advice on crisis communications and issues management.
The agenda for the meeting itself will take on a familiar look for members. There is the traditional board meeting on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 2. The TOCA Foundation board meeting will also be conducted at this time. Members are always invited to the meeting. The evening will feature an informal gathering of members at T.D.s Sports Bar at Saddlebrook. Members will be on their own to mingle and enjoy some libations.
Wednesday morning will be professional development, followed by the golf (on site) or the tour of some of the great horticultural areas of Tampa. Tentative plans are for a backstage visit at Busch Gardens and a trip to George Steinbrenner Field, spring training home of the New York Yankees. Details to come.
Thursday presents more professional development throughout the day. The annual awards dinner and presentation of the best communications work of TOCA will conclude the activities in the evening.
Members may consider staying the weekend at one of the premier resorts in Florida, if not the country. The resort will welcome our members to the many amenities Saddlebrook has to offer.
The 2017 agenda will be available online soon. Registration should be open by early February. Watch the TOCA web site: www.toca.org, for more information in the meantime.
See you in Tampa in 2017!
Tuesday, May 2
2:00 p.m. Board Meeting Boardroom B
6:00 p.m. Informal gathering of members who want to attend at T.D.s Sports Bar.
7:00 p.m. Board Dinner Dempseys Steakhouse same location as T.D.s SB (Limited Menu)
Wednesday, May 3
7:00-9:00 a.m. Breakfast on your own at Saddlebrook .
(Tropics Restaurant has buffet breakfast for $20)
9:00-9:45 a.m. Welcome, introductions, scholarship/intern recognition. Pegasus East Room
- Continental Breakfast in Pegasus Foyer
9:45 -10:15 a.m. Environmental Communicator of the Year presentation. Will include a 15-minute presentation by person selected on some of his/her accomplishments.
10:15-10:30 a.m. Plant Health Writer of the Year presentation.
10:30-10:45 a.m. Break
10:45-Noon “Preparing for the Worst: Communicating in a Crisis” Lisa Lochridge, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
Lisa Lochridge is director of public affairs for the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. She manages communications with its members and the media on topics ranging from food safety to immigration reform.
Previously, Ms. Lochridge was an executive with CBR Public Relations in Maitland, FL, providing clients with media relations, issues management and crisis communication counsel. From 1978 to 1999, she worked in various editorial and management capacities with the Orlando Sentinel, including six years as Seminole County bureau chief.
A Florida native, Ms. Lochridge holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in communications from the University of Central Florida.
Noon-6:00 p.m. Busch Gardens/Yankees Training camp (Box lunch for attendees)
Noon-6:00 p.m. Golf/Saddlebrook (four foursomes)(Box lunch for golfers)
7:00-9:00 p.m. Opening Night Reception/Silent Auction (NEW!) Tropics Terrace and Restaurant
Thursday, May 4
7 a.m. TOCA Run Club and walkers. ( 3-mile route available at resort.)
8:00-9:00 a.m. Breakfast – TOCA committees will meet during complimentary breakfast for members Pegasus East 1-4.
9:00-10:15 a.m. Seminar: Roy Peter Clark Part I. Pegasus East
10:15-10:30 a.m. Break
10:30-Noon Seminar: Roy Peter Clark Part II Pegasus East
Noon-12:45 p.m. Lunch — Pegasus East 1-4
12:45-1:00 p.m. Group Photo (Golf course 18th green or )
1:15 p.m.-2:45 p.m. Seminar: Social Media 2.0 EPIC Creative. Pegasus East
2:45 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Break
3:00-4:00 p.m. Seminar: Social Media 2.0. End-User Panel Discussion. Pegasus East
4:00-5:00 p.m. Business Meeting. Pegasus East
5:00 p.m. Adjourn
6:30 p.m. Reception. Lagoon Pavilion
7:30-9:30 p.m. Dinner and Awards Program. Lagoon Pavilion
Friday, May 6
Informal breakfast on your own. Head for home at leisure.
The 2017 Membership Drive is Underway!
By Kyle Wieskus
All members should have received their 2017 membership renewal email. If you have any questions, need any changes made to invoices please dont hesitate to send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 952-758-6340. Click here to renew online .
Along with your 2017 renewal, we sent you information on the 2017 Membership Drive Contest! We are very excited about this contest and the information bears repeating so please keep on reading the highlights below and find out how you can win some cold hard cash!
Recruit members to TOCA and you personally will receive cash hundreds of dollars!
The TOCA Simple Membership Rewards Program.
- Win $300 by recruiting the most NEW members to TOCA in 2017,
- Win $250 by recruiting the second most NEW members,
- Win $200 by recruiting the third most NEW members,
- Win $150 by recruiting the fourth most NEW members,
- Win $100 by recruiting the fifth most NEW members, and
- A bonus of $25 for every member who recruits more than five new members.
Whats a NEW member? Simply (are you catching a theme here), someone who wasnt a TOCA member in 2016.
All you have to do to be eligible to win in this contest is be a member in good-standing of TOCA for 2017. On the new membership application this year, a line will be included for the member to note who recruited them to TOCA.
If your name is on that new members application for membership, you will be eligible to win. Or, simply contact our TOCA membership director Kyle Wieskus at: email@example.com and notify her about who you recruited. Well be keeping a tally.
Another exciting component of this new membership drive is the Young Professional (YP) Membership Offer! We believe that recruitment of Young Professionals (those 35 and under) will lead to the successful continued growth of TOCA. We are excited to offer to organizations (any current member company, association, agency, etc.) with two or more paying members in 2017 the opportunity to receive one free, young professional membership to a new TOCA member.
By making membership accessible and affordable for YPs, there are three distinct group benefits:
- TOCA benefits as an organization by growing in numbers and our communications contest award applications; the organization is positioned for future success and longevity by introducing younger members into the community.
- Member companies and organizations are able to potentially recruit new talent and develop the abilities of their YP workforce.
- Young Professionals (YPs) will see TOCA as a community of mentors, capable of providing them with industry specific skills, strategies and connections they cannot find elsewhere.
Please contact the TOCA staff if you would like to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.
So start today! First, renew your 2017 membership in TOCA. See the attached form and invoice or renew online here.
Thanks in advance for your membership renewal and lets all do our part to grow our association!
Buy 2 Get 1 Young Professional Membership FREE!
By Dawn Rigby, Marketing Manager, Advanced Turf Solutions
Calling all young professionals! You could qualify for free TOCA membership. The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) is extending an offer for free membership to qualifying young professionals. The new program applies to green industry communicators 35 and under. The company membership in TOCA must have two paid memberships for each free young professional membership.
For example: An individual membership costs $140. Each additional member in a company is $90. If a company has three members, and at least one of them is 35 or under, the first member is $140, the second member is $90, and the third member is free. Thats three TOCA memberships for $230!
Add this great deal to the incentive program offered ALL our members for cash means there are many ways to be a part of TOCA at a very reasonable price, recruit members and make a bundle of cash yourself. Go to www.toca.org for more information. Click here for more information.
The Truth about Debbie
By: Sara Bojar, Bader Rutter
Editor’s Note: Each issue, the TOCA Professional Development Committee profiles a TOCA Member — and the stories live on under the Membership Tab of the TOCA Website. This issue, we profile board member Debbie Clayton.
I was born in Ohio. My dad was a large-animal veterinarian, but he joined the military when I was three, so my two sisters and I became Air Force brats. We lived in Maryland, New Orleans, Hawaii, Washington state, and Missouri, where I went to high school and college. My parents eventually settled in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC.
I’m proud to say I’ve visited all 50 states and still love to travel.
How did you get started in your career?
Armed with a degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri, I moved to Tallahassee, FL to seek my fortune. But it was during a recession, so I started out working as a waitress at the local Elks Club.
That job led to a connection at the Florida Dept. of Agriculture. During my interview there for an editor job, my (ultimate) boss said he wanted to hire a woman for three reasons: she could be paid less, she would help with secretarial duties, and farmers would rather be interviewed by a woman. Remember, this was the mid-1970’s when there weren’t a ton of professional women. I said, “Yes, I’ll take the job!”
I spent three years writing stories about Florida agriculture, then moved on to the
Delaware Extension Service, which led to a PR job in Philadelphia handling agricultural accounts. From there I worked at PR agencies in New York, Baltimore and back in Philadelphia, where I started my own freelance writing/PR consulting business, Clayton Communications.
When did you begin working in the turf industry?
I was working for several chemical companies, and they often had companion turf products. One client, Aventis (a Bayer legacy company), hired me to write and produce their publication, The 19th Hole. I learned the golf industry in a hurry writing six features about golf course superintendents every month!
From there, I worked on multiple turf accounts and made it my specialty. Joining TOCA in 1994 was a turning point in forging relationships in the Green Industry. I still work in both ag and turf, offering writing, media relations, newsletter development, photography, event planning, social media and more.
What do you like best about TOCA?
Absolutely the camaraderie! I had been a part of other professional groups, which didn’t necessarily embrace PR people. But I felt at home with TOCA right away, singing along to the oldies and comparing notes with editors about favorite books and movies. Of course, I like all the professional development at the annual meeting and the fact that I’ve gotten to know all the movers and shakers in the business through networking and mentoring.
I was secretary-treasurer for 10 years, Ive served on the board for another 10 years, and I spearhead the Professional Development committee. Ive only missed one annual meeting in the last 22 years, so I guess you could call me a TOCA Nerd!
Tell us about your family.
I’ve been married to a fellow PR professional, the wonderful Jim Talbot, for 32 years. Our son, Travis, 30, is a lawyer in New York City. I also have three older stepchildren and seven step-grandchildren. We are one big happy blended family!
The Professional Development Committee continues its ongoing series featuring TOCA Gardner award winners.
Gardner Award Winner Q&A: Annee Cook, Grand View Media
Turf & Turf Design Build Media Kit
By Sara Bojar, Bader Rutter, Professional Development Committee
Please briefly describe your winning project.
We wanted to evolve the standard print media kit beyond a flat PDF and make it a fully-interactive guide. Easily navigated, these media kit sites also act as Sales Presentations in a Pocket, as reps can instantly display a native email program in a pitch, or click-and-share pages and PDF links via email or text from a trade show floor. To the media buyer surfing the site, it provides quick specs and other pertinent information.
What were your main objectives in developing this project? We wanted to improve how digital opportunities are presented to our advertising partners. The ubiquitous one-sheet is a staple of selling, but fails miserably when marketing the digital advertising options of media today.
Design benefits include:
- Instant access to brands and the full portfolio
- Real-time, current information
- Responsive, mobile use
- Printable sheets and interactive examples
- Immediate rate access
- Ability to use video
- Digital programs and high-impact ad units show interactively
- Dynamic content on calendars are keyword-searchable
What influenced your approach?
Standing out in the field. Were growing rapidly and introducing many new products and opportunities for our audiences and advertisers. With all of these features, we wanted to keep the selling process simple and fresh for the many customized and creative client requests.
Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.
Our media industry is ever-changing with dynamic content delivery and (seemingly) daily digital innovations. However, industry standards for media kits and sales tools have lagged in keeping pace. The Grand View Media marketing team took the printed media kit and shook it up for a fully interactive, customer-focused experience.
Gardner Award Winner Q&A: LM Social Media Strategy
Marisa Palmieri, Dillon Stewart, Allison Barwacz
Landscape Management, North Coast Media
By Debbie Clayton, Clayton Communications, Professional Development Committee
Please briefly describe your winning project/What were your main objectives in developing this project?
The Landscape Management social media strategy is to drive readers to our website and express our brand’s personality (energizing, down-to-earth and hands-on). We accomplished both in 2015 and attribute growth in key web metrics to our efforts on social media.
These included a 20.3% increase in total page views in 2015 over 2014 and a two-year change of 96.1%.
What were your main objectives in developing this project?
After creating our strategy, we knew it would come down to execution. It’s easy to put plans in place and let them fall by the wayside while we focus on our traditional “day jobs” (putting out a monthly print magazine, posting news to the website daily and producing a weekly newsletter, among other things).
By making a plan and splitting up the duties among staff members, it made the daunting task of keeping up with multiple social channels more doable. The real credit goes to our Associate Editor Dillon Stewart and Digital Content Producer Allison Barwacz (now Kelly Limpert) for handling the bulk of this work day in and day out.
What influenced your approach?
As social media is ever-changing, we strive to stick to our strategy but tweak our approach as we go. We look at what leading news outlets do and also at what seems to be getting results for us, as measured by engagement on various channels.
Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.
Our resultsspecifically, nearly doubling our page views from 2013-2015. Our organic follower growth on Facebook (16%), Twitter (27%), LinkedIn (36%) and Instagram (258%) from 2015-2016 validated our approach, as did the recognition we received from organizations outside the green industry. We also earned a Silver Regional Award in the 2016 ASBPE (American Society of Business Press Editors) Awards of Excellence and an Honorable Mention in the B-to-B Overall Use of Social Media category in the national Folio: Eddie Awards.
Gardner Award Winner Q&A: Safer Hydro Print Ad Design Award
by Dawn Rigby, Advanced Turf Solutions, Professional Development Committee
Joseph Rogge, CCO at EPIC Creative, answered a few questions about EPIC Creatives Gardner Award for Design – Marketing Communications for Safer Hydro Print Ad.
Please briefly describe your winning project.
The project was advertising creative that introduced the Safer Brand’s positioning and brand voice to the Hydroponic growers market. This creative drove the overall campaign’s tactical executions including regional media placements, point-of-sale displays, and direct mail activities.
Our goal was to position Safer Brand’s nutrient product line as the safest, most plant beneficial organic nutrients available in the organic hydroponic space. The headline “What you put in your plants, you put in your body” communicates the message that using naturally sourced and processed organic materials results in healthier plants and more bountiful harvests, without the potentially dangerous chemicals found in tradition fertilizers.
What influenced your approach?
In researching the competitive landscape in the hydroponic market, we learned that the safety message would be unique. As the hydroponic space has grown, and larger more mainstream brands like Scotts are entering the market, we saw that organics had gained market share but efficacy and safety were topics we could use to position Safer Brand. We felt that presenting beautiful “results” in a highly stylized hydro environment would illustrate the message that Safer Brand’s nutrients will help the grower be successful. The headline was intended to own safety, confidently. The fact that safe is in the brands name helps us knit the messaging and visuals together nicely.
Please tell us what you think stood out in your winning entry.
The beautiful, symmetrical plant image, supported by the stylized treatment of water and soil, with a powerful color palette is confident and engaging. Certainly, the narrative is important, but the power of this creative is that the dynamic, bold presentation of growing “results” and the visual connection to the Safer products tells the story visually, compelling the audience to want more.
Long-time TOCA member, formerly from PBI-Gordon, Hal Dickey recently died at the age of 88. Hal was one of the original members of TOCA back in the early 1990s. He was, as PBI-Gordons Doug Obermann says: He was a wonderful story teller of life events and one great dancer in his time.
Hal was an annual attendee of TOCAs May meetings. He was immensely proud of his membership in AA (and was always proud to note he was alcohol-free for 52 years).
Hal is now dancing in heaven AND driving his car with CHA-CHA plates, says Doug. Doug adds that Hal did many wonderful things for PBI-Gordon. Those of us who knew Hal during is TOCA days can say the same.
We will miss Hal.
TOCA Seeks to Award Annual Scholarship
The TOCA Foundation awards one scholarship to a deserving student currently pursuing a career in green industry communications. Do you someone who fits the bill? Let them know that there is $2,500 in scholarship money available to them.
The TOCA Board of Directors will award one $2,500, fall semester scholarship (2017-2018 academic-year) to an undergraduate college student pursuing a career in green industry communications. To qualify, students must major or minor in technical communications or a green industry related field such as horticulture, plant sciences, botany, agronomy, plant pathology, etc. The applicant also must demonstrate an interest in using this course of study in the field of communications.
More than $47,000 in scholarships have been awarded since its inception in 1992.
The Publishers Scholarship is generously supported by Golf Course Management, Total Landscape Care, GIE Media, Grandview Media, North Coast Media, Southcomm Media, Arbor Age, OPEI, Landscape and Irrigation, SportsTurf magazines and TurfNet.com.
Applications are due on March 1. Click here for the application.
Plant Health Writer of the Year Nominations due March 1
The Plant Health Writer of the Year has been honoring TOCA-member writers for four years. The program is provided annually to an outstanding writer for excellence in plant health issues to the appropriate green industry audience through writing, including new media, for a publication or publishing company. The winner of this program must be a TOCA member.
These types of writing are examples of what qualifies for entry in this award program:
Plant-specific articles related to the health of the plant.
Water issues and its effect on turf, shrubs, flowers, etc., regarding green spaces.
Fertilization/nutrient management innovations and its effect on green spaces.
Pesticide innovations and its effect on green spaces.
Mowing technologies and how new methods affect plant health.
Growth regulators and the effect these technologies have on plant health.
Winners receive a $1000 stipend to be used toward professional development or to attend the annual TOCA meeting.
To apply or nominate a writer, click here. Deadline for applications is March 1.
Environmental Communicator of the Year Nominations due March 1
The TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year Award may be given to anyone in the green industry in recognition of outstanding efforts in communicating the benefits of environmental stewardship to a particular industry audience.
Sponsored annually by Project EverGreen and now in its 19th year, the Environtmental Communicator of the Year award has been presented at TOCAs annual meeting.
David Shetlar The BugDoc, Ph.D., entomology professor at the Ohio State University,
was recognized as the 2016 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year recipient.
To nominate a deserving candidate, click here.
The 2017 TOCA Communications Contest Update
By Kristy Mach
Entries will open mid-January, with a deadline of March 15. Any work done fully or partially in 2016 is eligible for the 2017 contest. TOCA is again using the BetterBNC online awards platform.
Also make plans to attend the awards banquet at the annual meeting in Tampa, Florida. The awards banquet will take place Thursday, May 4.
Stay tuned for the announcement call for entries!
Any questions, please contact Kristy Mach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 952-758-6340.
TOCA and Ewing Host Successful Fireside Chat at the Irrigation Show
TOCA hosted the first Fireside Chat, sponsored by Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply, at the Irrigation Show on December 7, 2016 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. More than 25 TOCA members and green industry communicators gathered to hear Cliff Woodbury ask “Is Anyone Listening?”
Woodbury is the senior vice president of culture and engagement at Ewing, and discussed ways in which communicators can strengthen and better business-to-business communication within their companies and industry by listening.
TOCA hopes to build upon the success of this event at future Irrigation Shows.
Lets be Safe Out There
By Dan Gardner, TOCA Special Running Correspondent
Cold weather running is certainly a challenge for those of us who live in states north of the Mendoza Line (please Google if you are perplexed by this geographical line). If you choose to run outdoors in the winter, there are numerous running publications that can help you survive the cold. But to save you hours of inquiry – here are some tips.
- Use shoes that have the least amount of mesh. Wear socks that keep wetness away, but keep your feet warm.
- Wear gloves and stocking cap. Minnesota Running Hall of Fame member Gerry Smith says: Dress comfortably, including wearing layers and see what feels comfortable for you. Many running gurus suggest that when the temp dips below zero, run indoors.
- Wear reflective clothing as piles of snow can make it harder for others to see you. If running in early morning or after sunset, carry and use a flashlight!
- If it is a windy day, start your run into the wind so the wind doesnt chill you after you have broken a sweat.
- Winter running is more about maintenance than speed. Your speed workouts can be saved for spring.
ENJOY your running regimen and be safe out there. And let me finish with the words of my former neighbor (and experienced runner): Before you criticize someone, you should run a mile in their shoes. That way, when you do criticize them youre a mile away and you have their shoes. Ponder that one for a while.
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!
Anyone who responds positively to the editors regarding this issues running article will be rewarded famously at the next TOCA Annual Meeting. See you in Tampa.