February 21st Conference Call

Attending: Casey, Rick, Clint, Margaret, Pam, Gail, Ellen, Julie, Suzi

1) SCRI Proposal (Ellen and Gail)

a. Status: comments received, Gail and Ellen will work to incorporate comments, need paperwork from Gail, going into grants and contracts this evening. As it stands now, no USDA paperwork needed from key personnel. But, if needed, it would be Conflict of Interest form, 2-page bio, Current and Pending. To Do: Ellen will send out forms to the Executive Committee, just in case. Will get clarity from UGA grants office regarding need for forms from key personnel (or not).

b. Final thoughts and needs: we’ve done a decent job of hitting two legislatively mandated focus areas, we need to hit one more.

2) Chair’s report (Casey)

a. Seed Your Future Workshop 2.13-2.14.17– Update: 1.5 long retreat at Ball Headquarters, hosted by Anna Ball. About 30-35 attended, including advisory committee and leadership cabinet of Seed Your Future. Meeting was to flush out SYF strategic plan. Key things: big goal of SYF and NICH continue to be complementary. SYF has many things NICH does not have (2-2.5 year head start, about $million in funding, full time executive director), and shares many things NICH does have. What NICH has accomplished in a short amount of time, without those resources, is impressive. Also highlights importance of getting resources to support our efforts. Both groups have had a difficult time reaching all industry. SYF has conducted focus groups on a large scale (what is on the mind on middle and high schoolers, right now). If you ask 18-34 year olds, what is the definition of horticulture, only about 40% can identify what horticulture is. Among African Americans, 18%; Hispanics, 26%. None of middle schoolers can identify horticulture, although they can identify other professions. This points out the need for our role in educating society about horticulture as a profession, benefits of horticulture. SYF looking at things associated with plant science, perhaps being a plant doctor. SYF is going to be involved in awareness building, scholastically, whereas we can be more involved in awareness building, professionally.

b. Q: Was there any talk about writing joint statements or article for industry? A: Collaboration on infographics seems more likely, at least in the near future.

c. Susan Yoder (head of SYF) may be asked to sit in on future conference calls, so that there is good understanding of overall picture of NICH, and how we complement SYF.

d. Roles and Goals Documents – a few comments received, to date. To Do: Casey will get a finalized document to all.

e. Org Chart/”One NICH”: Compare and contrast SYF org structure, versus our org chart. Importance of asking questions and collaborating across committees and councils. The councils have the capacity to do great work, if they know the work that they can do. Casey noted that there are a few potential threats to NICH.

i. Lack of a unified message scaled to an audience and time frame: we need to make sure that we’re educating stakeholders within our industry about NICH’s work. Our Marketing Committee works to unify our message. We need to make sure we have the same tools, and that we use these tools to educate, recruit, inform.

ii. We need to have a high-level, overall marketing message ~ but also need to make sure we have more tailored message(s) to reach academia as well as industry. Ellen noted that marketing committee meeting really addressed this issue.

iii. We need to make sure that the time and efforts we’re directing committees on include the marketing committee.

3) Infographic

a. Comments on the infographic.

i. infographic seems pretty service heavy and landscape heavy, and that the household part of the picture is missing (particularly in the ‘where we live’ section). It does say a ¼ of American homes grow fruits and veggies ~ but perhaps it would be more compelling to say 60,000 million homes.

ii. could add in the benefits of horticulture and the diversity of horticulture crops to supporting a colorful, diverse, interesting diet

iii. the environmental impacts seem to be missing: reducing run-off, carbon sequestration. Environmental piece might even be its own infographic, in the end, but a few high level items could make its way into the document.

iv. Not much in there about food, what consumer hort does, nutritionally, for folks.

v. need to make sure we have vetted data sources, and the most recent data.

4) Marketing Committee Report (Suzi McCoy)

a. Recent meetings and committee strategy: goal of the committee is to reach key influencers, key industry leaders about what it is that NICH is doing for consumer horticulture. When we’re out talking about NICH, there continues to be confusion about what our group is doing. We need to clearly define our brand messages, so that we can all be talking from the same page.

i. One of the goals of the marketing committee is to have a rep from each committee and each council on the MarCom, so that we’re working and collaborating across committees ~ to coordinate marketing messages that are going outward.

b. Objectives: creating overall branding architecture, so that we all play within certain boundaries that is within the framework of the brand.

i. Four objectives were developed. Next step will be to flush out those objectives.

c. Possible hashtag for consideration approved by committee: using hashtags that are getting the most traction on Instagram. #garden gets the most traction.

i.  Combination hashtag – #findyournich + #(fill in your passion) + #garden

1. e.g. #findyournich #WitchHazelFlowers #garden

d. Work on a social media campaign after building our contacts list, getting industry support and building industry awareness.

e. Q: Will MarCom set up Facebook page? Instagram page? A: Not yet. To do social media well takes a tremendous amount of energy. At this point, group felt like we could put up a Linked In page. Focus at this point is to build awareness, build support from industry influencers, Extension agents, top 100 garden centers, public gardens, hort associations.

f. MarCom Committee Minutes appended to these minutes.

5) Website Update Status and Review of Submission Pathway for Requested Changes (Ellen) ~ deferred

6) Quick Reports/Updates from other Committees and Councils (Chairs or Designates) ~ deferred

7) Review Action Items (Gail/Casey)

To Do: Ellen will send out forms to the Executive Committee, just in case. Will get clarity from UGA grants office regarding need for forms from key personnel (or not).

To Do: Casey will get a finalized roles and goals document to all.


Attachment 1: February 2017 MarCom Committee Report

In attendance:

  • Brie Arthur, Brie Grows
  • Ellen Bauske, UGA
  • Natalie Bumgarner, University of Tennessee
  • Mason Day, GrowIt!
  • Debbie Hamrick, NC Farm Bureau – Chairman Economic Committee
  • Shannon Spurlock, Denver Urban Gardens – Chairman Non-profit Committee
  • Susan McCoy, Garden Media Group, Chair MarCom Committee

I appreciate y’all’s time and great ideas. We got a lot accomplished!

1. Use of Farm Bill in marketing language

a.      Ellen explained the grant proposal is exclusively about research and extension and what drives the industry

b.      Reviewer’s comment: What is this organization?

c.      Mason will help Ellen with language of the draft of proposal

1.      We agreed our goal for NICH MarCom Committee:

a.      Our goal is to establish NICH as the united front to stimulate economic growth in the consumer horticultural industry and communicate this message to industry leaders, influencers and decision makers.

2. Target markets discussed:

a.      Hort industry Influencers

b.      Hort Industry Leaders

c.      Top 100 retailers

d.      Government policy makers – Ag Committee

e.      National and state nursery and landscape associations

f.       Extensions

g.      Non-profits

h.      Public gardens

3. Four of five objectives

1.      Define the Brand & Messaging

2.      Identify and Reach key influencers in target markets

3.      Build & Nurture email list

4.      Drive message with Trade PR

4. Divide the tasks

a.      Need Q&A – send questions to Suzi

b.      Need an Elevator pitch – what is NICH?

c.      Need to build email list and use email nurturing more effectively

d.      Need to develop list of key influencers

e.      Need letters of support from companies, nonprofits, organizations, etc

f.       Need easier sign up on NICH website

g.      Need call to action on sign up page. Tell the world what your niche is use hashtag on webpage

5. Agreed to a #hashtag and will present to NICH ExCom

a.      #findyournich #(fill in your passion) #garden

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