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Working with AgComm

Department: Agricultural Communications

Why work with AgComm?

Extension is built on specialization. You specialize in your subject-matter; we specialize in communications. Our staff are experienced Extension communicators, who have educational preparation, academic degrees, professional certifications, and years of experience producing materials and messages that successfully engage and educate Extension audiences.

Official, numbered Extension educational publications are edited and designed by AgComm to be consistent with Extension’s standards for correctness, appropriateness, readability, accessibility, and branding. We are currently developing processes to provide for peer-review and official numbering for other types of educational content, such as video, as well.

In addition, materials produced by AgComm become part of Extension’s permanent body of content and are made available to all Extension staff and audiences through Extension’s website, social media channels, and print publishing system.

It is perhaps true that anyone with a computer and appropriate software can put together a publication or video, but not everyone can do it in a way that meets Extension standards. Our goal is to work with you to produce high-quality, user-friendly educational materials. We love what we do, and we are on your team!

How much does it cost to work with AgComm?

How long does it take to produce materials through AgComm?

How to work with AgComm

When you’re writing a grant proposal

When you need communications training or consultation

When you’re submitting a project request

When you’re developing an Extension program

When you’re developing an educational publication

When you’re developing an online course

When you’re planning an event

When you’re requesting media coverage or a press release

When you’re wanting a video

When you’re needing social media

When you’re wanting to start a podcast or blog

When you’re wanting a website/page

When you’re wanting to make updates or additions to the Extension website

When you’re wanting to change the information that is displayed on your directory page on the Extension website

For your title and/or department, HRM will have to make that change

For other changes, please follow these instructions

When you’re wanting to get something printed

 

How much does it cost to work with AgComm?

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Generally, working with AgComm is free. Publications and other materials to promote and support Extension programs are produced and printed free of charge to the authors. Production is paid for centrally, by Extension administration, through AgComm.

If there is grant funding for a project, we do charge for our services at a competitive rate. The hourly rate we use is comparable to rates from outside or commercial agencies. Again, payment is not usually required for our services for Extension projects and personnel, and we can adjust our quote to meet the grant resources.

Please keep in mind that full production of a publication, including editing and graphic design and preparation for the web, does cost more than printing alone.

Please include us in your grant proposals! When you are working on a grant proposal for a project that will include communications materials, please contact us. We will gladly provide cost estimates for producing the publications and/or other materials that you can use in your proposal.

While we work hard to meet every deadline, grant funding does not prioritize your project over others that are already in production. The key to meeting your grant deadlines is to plan ahead and get your materials to AgComm well in advance to allow sufficient production time.

How long does it take to produce materials through AgComm?

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When you submit your project request, we will get back to you with a delivery estimate. If you have an event or other deadline by which you need your project, please let us know at the time you make your request.

Please remember that AgComm works with all of Extension’s faculty members on hundreds of projects. When an individual turns in a project request, it goes into a queue along with all of these other projects. It does take time to produce everything. The earlier you can turn in your request and materials, the better able we will be to complete the project by your deadline.

Our Workzone project request forms indicate minimum lead times for some projects. Please keep in mind that these are minimums. Some projects take much longer to produce, depending on length, complexity, the number of other projects in production, and other factors.

How to work with AgComm

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Every communication project starts by submitting your request through our online Workzone system or by contacting Customer Service Representative Kay Swoope.

The most important thing to do, besides creating your content, is to give AgComm enough time to plan for and effectively produce your materials.

AgComm’s production load averages 200 to 250 projects at any given time. Each project request is reviewed and evaluated during a weekly production-management meeting. Once a request has been evaluated, we share with you the anticipated production time required for your project. Both the complexity of the project and the current workload are factored into each project’s production timeline.

When you’re writing a grant proposal

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If your grant proposal includes any communications products or activities, including social media posts and promotion, please let. AgComm know as soon as possible. Preferably, before you submit the proposal.

AgComm can develop a communications plan plus estimated costs for creative development, printing, and distribution of educational and marketing tools and materials to accomplish your grant objectives.

When you need communications training or consultation

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AgComm professionals can help you prepare for media interviews, appearing on-camera, and many other communications activities. We can also provide classroom-style training for your group, department, or region.

And we can help you with planning communications for your program, event, or initiative.

When you’re submitting a project request

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Please submit your request through Workzone, our project management portal: choosing one of these Project Types.

  • Basic Fulfillment Request: Use this form for photo coverage, media relations support, and minimal webpage updates to include uploading client-produced videos on the website.
  • Creative Communications: Use this form for projects that require graphic design or videography work.
  • Disaster/Emergency Management Communications Request: Use this form for urgent communications resulting from a disaster or other widespread emergency situation.
  • Extension Publication Request Form: Use this form to submit official numbered Extension publication requests (new pubs, revisions, and reprints).
  • Social Media Request: Use this form when requesting a new or changes to an existing social media account.

Is your project educational or marketing?

Extension publications are educational products. The majority of non-publication requests will fall under the promotional category. Promotional content encourages participation in a program or event or promotes the availability and value of a product, while educational content teaches, by sharing current, relevant Extension knowledge.

More points to keep in mind

The more detail you provide on your project request form, the better we can assess your project and the more quickly we can get started.

Please be sure to include all materials, forms, and other information with your project request or as soon as possible after submission. Work cannot begin on your project until all required materials are received by AgComm.

When your project is in production, please respond quickly to proofs and other requests from AgComm, so that we can keep your project on schedule.

We understand that Extension work is demanding and requires a lot of travel, and we will do our best to work with you to accommodate your schedule.

Please be aware, however, that after 3 months without progress or communication from you, your project will be considered inactive. This just means that work on the project has been paused, to allow for work on other, active projects. When the required materials/proofs/communications are received from you, the project will be reintroduced, and a new production timeline based on AgComm’s workload at that time will be defined.

When you’re developing an Extension program

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AgComm can work with you to identify, analyze, and act on audience research to plan and package your program, methods, and messages.

We can develop and produce marketing and educational publications, tools, and materials to support delivery of your program.

We can craft messages and materials to communicate the value and impact of your program to key stakeholders.

When you’re developing an educational publication

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Several options are available for Extension educational publications.

Print-on-Demand (POD)

Most Extension publications are formatted for printing on-demand to reduce costs and paper waste. We have print-on-demand (POD) templates for simple, text-only publications and for full-color publications. These are produced free of charge for Extension authors and to support Extension programs. However, if you have grant funding, we can provide costs for producing and printing the publication. Extension faculty members and county Extension personnel can order POD publications through the Publications Ordering System.

Digital Publications

Most Extension educational publications are posted to extension.msstate.edu. However, some publications do not work well in the online space. We can advise you on this. In addition, please note that any publications on our website must meet accessibility standards, and this process takes time. You can help by providing alternative text for images and simplifying your tables and charts. Please contact us for more information.

Stored Publications

Some Extension materials are printed and stored in inventory. Examples include

  • Materials with full bleed (ink running off edge of page).
  • Materials with complicated binding (spiral, coil, wrap).
  • Materials that are longer than 56 pages.
  • Materials with page sizes larger or smaller than 8.5 x 11 inches.
  • Marketing-oriented materials.
  • Materials that are printed externally.

Extension faculty members and county Extension personnel can order publications and other materials in inventory through the Publications Ordering System.

Peer Review

All official Extension publications are peer-reviewed to ensure that the content is accurate, complete, clear, and useful to our audience. Two peer reviews are required and must be completed by relevant subject-matter experts within or outside of MSU. We recommend a third peer review by an MSU Extension agent, because they interact with Extension clients every day and understand how to reach them.

When you’re developing an online course

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When you are creating an online course or webinar, please work with AgComm to develop a launch plan to promote it to both the internal Extension audience and external audiences.

AgComm can develop social media graphics, promotional copy, and other resources that you can share with Extension agents to enable them to promote your offering on their social media accounts and email lists. AgComm can also share these materials on Extension’s main social media accounts and create media releases, flyers, postcards, or other pieces to promote your course or webinar to external audiences.

When you’re planning an event

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When planning a statewide or regional Extension event, follow the suggested checklist below. Please be sure to contact AgComm well in advance of your event.

  • Add your event to the Events Calendar on the Extension website
  • Request a social media graphic and a pre-packaged social media post from AgComm to promote the event. Choose the Social Media Request form in Workzone.
  • Request a media advisory or press release from AgComm, using the Basic Fulfillment Request in Workzone.
  • If you would like event coverage, including photography and social media, make a request via Workzone. (Making a request for event coverage does not guarantee it can happen. Event coverage can be dependent on availability of staff.)
  • After these steps have been done, send an email internally to the all@ext.msstate.edu or ext-cty@ext.msstate.edu email lists. Use the suggested email event announcement template provided at the end of this document. Please make sure that you have your social media graphics and post before you announce the event to agents. Attach these elements to your email to them, so that they can post them to their county social media accounts. This will increase the consistent branding and professional packaging for your event.

When you’re requesting media coverage or a press release

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Much of the work of an Extension professional is highly important but routine, such as consulting with clients on a landscape problem or delivering educational programming through a monthly forestry meeting or 4-H club meeting. Just doing your job is not news, but there are times when your work rises to a different level and would benefit from media attention. An unusual program, an educational outreach on a very timely current event, or information on a wide-reaching issue or problem are all newsworthy.

AgComm wants to help you make the most of these events, but we need your help in helping you. We will work with you to determine the best way to promote this event or tell your story, possibly through marketing, a social media post, a feature story in Extension Matters, or invitations to local media to attend.

Please allow at least two weeks advance notice if you want coverage of an event. If you need a media release announcing an event, please submit your request at least one month before the event.

When you’re wanting a video

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If you need an educational or promotional video, please submit the Creative Request in Workzone. Video production is extremely time-intensive, so please be sure to allow ample time for production.

If these videos are intended to support an online course, please be sure to let us know.

When you’re needing social media

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All new social media accounts for Extension programs and entities must be set up through AgComm. Please do not set up a work-related social media account by yourself. Following this process ensures that each Extension social media account is created, managed, and branded properly.

Account information for Extension social media accounts must be kept on file in AgComm, so that Extension will retain access to the account in case passwords are lost, people change jobs or retire, etc.

AgComm will not make posts to your account without your knowledge, but AgComm will monitor your account to make sure it is properly maintained.

When you have a social media account for your program or other subject matter, you are responsible for posting to it regularly and monitoring it for comments and direct messages. AgComm can provide tutorials and consultations to give you guidance on best practices for social media. If you have ideas for social media campaigns that involve creating content for Extension agents to use, consult AgComm first.

All social media ads and boosts must be approved and created by AgComm. Also, before including or accepting any grant funds meant for social media, you must consult AgComm.

If you have a suggestion for a post related to your area of expertise that you would like featured on the main MSU Extension social media accounts, reach out to AgComm. Our social media strategist will consider your request.

Read the official Extension Social Media Guidelines document for more information and best practice suggestions. You can find this document on the Extension intranet.

When you’re wanting to start a podcast or blog

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If you want to start a podcast, please contact AgComm. An Extension podcast request form must be approved by your department head and an associate director.

AgComm maintains a podcasting studio which we can train you to use to record your podcast. We can help with branding, intros and outros, and hosting for your podcast. We can also advise you on equipment and software to use outside our studio.

Currently, AgComm does not have the capacity to do recording, editing, or other production work for your podcast.

To start a blog, contact the Extension Center for Technology Outreach.

When you’re wanting a website/page

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AgComm manages the Extension website. The site is home to the latest Extension news, events, publications, and videos, including online editions of Farmweek, individual county pages, and more than 500 pages on Extension’s specialty areas.

Extension faculty are encouraged to help keep their content and events up-to-date.

When you’re wanting to make updates or additions to the Extension website

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To submit changes or additions to the Extension website, please submit a request in Workzone.

For new pages or substantial changes, please use the Creative Communications request. Include as much detail as you can, and a member of the web team will meet with you to discuss the additions or changes.

For minor changes to a web page, use the Basic Fulfillment request in Workzone. Please include the URL of the page or pages to change, and a Word document with the copy to be replaced and the replacement text. If there are questions regarding your request, a member of the web team will contact you.

To submit an event for the Extension calendar, click the “Add Event” tab at the top of the Extension website, or go to extension.msstate.edu/content/add-event and fill out the form. Email the web team at webteam@ext.msstate.edu if you get a message saying you need log-in access.

For Extension faculty members wanting to make their own web updates, the AgComm web team offers training over Zoom. Email the web team at webteam@ext.msstate.edu to set up a training session.

When you’re wanting to change the information that is displayed on your directory page on the Extension website.

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The employee information is pulled from the HR Database and from information you enter on your employee profile on the Extension Intranet.

For your title and/or department, HRM will have to make that change.

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The job title and department that HRM has in BANNER is submitted by the department using the Employment Action Form (EAF). HRM can’t change titles and departments without an EAF from the department. For changes to title or department name, the department must submit the EAF and get necessary approval signatures and then forward to Data Services for input.

Find out more about and download the EAF here.

HRM can change Mailstop and campus addresses, phone numbers, names (with updated social security card), etc.

The employee may email HRM directly for other updates such as addresses or name changes with appropriate documents to make the change.

HRM Phone: 662.325.3713

https://www.hrm.msstate.edu/contact

For other changes, please follow these instructions. 

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To change your personal information, such as your phone number or address, you will need your PIN. If you don’t have it or have trouble logging in, please contact India Crews in the Extension Center for Technology Outreach.

Phone 662-325-3226 or email: india.crews@msstate.edu  

Please check your information by visiting http://extension.msstate.edu/directory and finding your page.

Some of the information shown is based on Human Resources data, but there is information you can change by visiting the Directories page on the Extension intranet and clicking the Update Your Directory Information link. 

To update your Employee Information, choose the first link, “Office address for [your name]”.

NOTE: Make sure you click the link for YOUR NAME. Otherwise, you will change your whole department to your address.

It may take a week for the new information to show up on the Extension website.

When you’re wanting to get something printed

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AgComm has a full-service Print Shop! Our skilled Print Shop staff provide high-speed color and black-and-white copying, finishing, and binding for a large range of materials. We also offer engraving for plaques, name badges, and other promotional and recognition items.

Through our relationship with MSU Mail Services, the AgComm Print Shop can integrate mailing with your printing job. The Print Shop also manages inventory of supplies, as well as print-on-demand (POD) and stored Extension publications. So, if you want to do a direct-mail campaign to clients or distribute materials to Extension offices, the AgComm Print Shop is your one-stop shop!

 

 

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