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The Successors, Ep 1: Responsible communication, mentorship, and finding your place in ag

By: Kara Oosterhuis

June 8, 2021

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The Successors is a brand new RealAgriculture podcast series hosted by Kara Oosterhuis focusing on agriculture from the perspective of the up-and-coming generation.

What does it take to be an effective communicator? What do public speaking and agriculture have in common? Why is it crucial to shift how we communicate with consumers as attitudes change?

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Rosie Thoni, U.S. public relations and content lead with AdFarm, tackles some of these questions in our first episode of The Successors podcast.

From writing stories on bid cards at auction marts in Alberta at the age of five, to gravitating toward public speaking events across agriculture, Thoni has always had a love for two industries: agriculture and communications.

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What solidified Thoni’s interest in meshing the two industries together was her involvement with the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders program, as well as some other mentorship opportunities.

“That program was extremely beneficial to me. I’ve also been lucky to connect with mentors in a more informal way — which if you don’t have access to those programs, or aren’t sure they are a fit for you — there are many ways to get linked up with mentors. I also got involved with the Calgary Stampede ag media committee as an intern early on, and found some great mentors through that program, through internships and people that I kept in touch with. So really finding some of those more organic ways to get in touch with people whose careers you admire,” Thoni explains, adding that when it comes to seeking mentorship — often times people are busy, so it’s important you are the one making an effort and being clear about what you need.

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When it comes to being responsible communicators, Thoni says one of the most important things is making real connections and understanding consumers, which as she notes, is a bit of a pivot from what you typically hear.

“The traditional line of messaging is we need to share with the consumer, we need to tell them what we’re doing — which I think is all true — but I don’t think it’s effective just to yell facts at the other side. I think we really need to be building bridges, building connections, finding out what our true shared values are, and sharing based on that,” she explains. “We’re not going to get anywhere by sharing facts, and sharing just science, it has to be built on emotion and connection, too.”

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Listen on for a conversation with Thoni and host Kara Oosterhuis on opportunities within agriculture, growing in your position, and what you can expect from The Successors going forward: