Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Faces on the RHD Team!

2012 has been a big year of continued growth at RHD and as always we are so thankful for the opportunity to work with the best customers in the business.

This fall we have greatly expanded our staff and thus, our areas of service as well! I am so proud that these new team members have joined RHD. They are all SMART and experienced people that just add to the outstanding team that we have here. So, here are a few of our new team members! Some are new faces, and some need no introduction :)

 Callie Graves was our first hire of the summer / fall. Callie is originally from East Bernard, Texas, making her the 4th "Brahma" fan on our staff. Well, actually we are all BRAHMAN fans but we're talking about being fans of her alma mater, East Bernard High School, who's mascot is the Brahmas.

Callie will be working in our print division, primarily working with graphic design projects and also serving as a designer for the Chianina Journal and Chi Connection, which RHD is now designing. Callie has past experience as a print designer and is extremely familiar with Photoshop and InDesign, and also the rodeo business. She is awesome!

Next up, a lady who needs no introduction in the cattle business: KC Kinder. I always say KC Keffer, but then again, lots of people refer to me as Rachel Williams still...and it doesn't bother me... so I doubt KC minds either for those of us who always say KC Keffer. KC is an Indiana native and now an Oklahoma resident. She has a B.S. in Ag Communications from Oklahoma State and a great deal of experience in the cattle business.

KC joined the RHD team on a part time basis about a year ago as one of our RHD reps. She quickly became one of the top RHD Reps and then we hired her full time this summer. She does a lot of things around here. First, she is serving as our special projects coordinator, and currently her biggest project is the Best of the Barns contest which will crank up this fall. She also serves as coordinator of our RHD reps program and is our livestock sales representative. And she photographs and does video editing too. And, starting this fall, she joined our web updates team and spends a considerable amount of time working on websites now too. If you don't happen to know KC, she'll be at Louisville and lots of other fall shows and sales, most likely in the Hereford aisles. She's also the proud mother of two little adorable twins, who we all affectionately refer to as "Surround Sound."

Joining us in September 2012....Melissa Guttenberger, formerly Melissa Muegge and a Brenham, Texas native and Santa Gertrudis showman. Before Melissa officially agreed to join our team, I kept telling everyone at the office "She's a genius! She has a master's degree in ag communications!" To which then Carole sweetly reminded me that I TOO have a master's degree lol.

Melissa is super talented and extremely well versed in the agriculture and business industries. She has a B.S. in communications from Texas A&M where she worked for Dr. Joe Townsend and was very involved in all kinds of things there. Next, she received a M.S. in ag communications from the University of Florida, which us ag comm folks recognize as one of the top programs in the nation. From there, she went to work for Allflex as their national accounts manager, then later the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. So how'd she end up in Wharton, Texas? LOVE! Her husband Kelly is a Wharton native and the Guttenberger's have made their home here. Melissa joined our team as our web division project manager. We have been growing so much in the web division that we felt the need to split Tricia's past project manager duties into a print division and web division. So Tricia will continue to work with our print projects, and Melissa will now be handling the web projects. Melissa is also a proud mom of a handsome son, Grant.

And look at this...a MAN on the RHD team!!!! Some people ask how he handles it, but most people think he's pretty lucky to be working with 10 beautiful ladies all day! :)

Matt Sweeney joined RHD in September 2012 as our lead developer. So what does that mean? Means he's the smartest person on our staff. Including smarter than me!

Matt is a web design guru. He had been doing some freelance work for RHD for the past 2 years, but never had been able to take a full time position with us because his first calling is serving as youth minister for Grace Community Church here in Wharton. This fall, an opportunity came up where Matt could do both - work for RHD full time and still work with the church. God is so good!!!

Matt knows more about web design than I could ever dream of, and we expect that to start showing when you see the new designs that RHD will be able to produce with the addition of Matt to our team. His addition to our group means we will be able to offer advanced web design services now with lots of "bells and whistles" and new services. Matt is also an experienced videographer, and we will be able to offer that service now too. Before you start calling us to come video your sale cattle, we want to say that we will not be offering video services as extensively as some of our friends and colleages in the business like Ideal Video or Cattle in Motion. But we WILL be offering the kind of videos businesses and ranchers need like promotional videos, video blogs, and more. We have some awesome video work coming down the pipe in the next month so stay tuned.

WOW! So big things are happening here at RHD, and we give all the glory to GOD. Thank you to everyone who helps make our jobs a joy and for allowing us to do what we love!!! The best is yet to come from RHD! Stay tuned!

Monday, September 24, 2012

RHD Scholars Program

Last week we came up with a new idea as just one more way RHD can help contribute to giving back to the industry....The RHD Scholars program.

You can check out all the details here:

But basically, the program is a nationwide mentorship program designed to help build future leaders in livestock advertising and marketing. Who should apply?

1) College students who have ever said "I wish I could work for RHD"
2) College students who have ever said "I wish I could start a business like RHD"
3) College students who want to be livestock photographers
4) College students who want to work for a breed association
5) College students who'd like to be advertising designers or web designers
6) College students who'd like to work as a sale consultant or livestock consultant
7) College students who'd like to work for a magazine, design agency, PR firm, etc.

We are going to go through all applications to the program (as of writing this blog we have about 35 applications from students across the USA) and we are going to select 20 students. Then basically we are taking these students under our wing for the school year and beyond.

We will work with them in the areas of design, marketing, photography, journalism, social media, and more.

We will be scheduling RHD Scholars events at Kansas City, Louisville, Denver, Fort Worth, Houston and other big livestock industry events. We are also working the logistics of possibly doing a special RHD Scholars event where all of the group will come to our headquarters in Texas for a special RHD Scholars conference.

Basically we will team each of the scholars up with various members of our staff as well as industry contacts who share their same professional goals. And wow do we have some awesome industry mentors lined up!!! Just a few of our industry mentors include Martha Garrett, Julie French, Jeremy Haag, Luke Bowman, Brooke Bennett, Jim Williams, Wade Fischer, Crystal Blin, and many more! The scholars will be able to call upon their mentors for career advice, networking, and critiques.

The elite group of RHD Scholars will also be recognized and promoted on the RHD website and have access to industry job postings and scholarship announcements.

The application process is super easy, you can get it here: It's not meant to be a huge ominious application just a way for us to get to know the applicants and their career needs.

Applications are due September 31st, so check it out!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Why we hate the words "CLICK HERE TO...."

People here at RHD affectionately (NOT) refer to me as the web updates nazi at certain points because I have very particular pet peeves and standards that we follow for all web updates. For example, consistency in captions like things like using Exhibited by vs. Shown by vs. Owned by for captions. Another example is consistent image sizes, or not using music on websites, and things like that.

Perhaps my biggest pet peeve and web design no-no is the use of the words CLICK HERE TO.....bla bla bla. As in:

Click here to view videos
Click here to read our newsletter
Click here to see our sale catalog

The only way this could be worse would be if it is accompanied by a flashing icon that says CLICK HERE

Ugh I almost have a panic attack just looking at that!!!

Yet continually, we do have clients who ask us to put in the words "CLICK HERE TO..." and though we do it if the client specifically asks, I really hate to do it. And here is why.

The bottom line is it is insulting to your viewer. It implies that people aren't smart enough to know that if there is something that's a link, that you click on it to access it.

Second, it's unnecessary words. As trained journalists we are always working to keep things as concise as possible. Get your message out in the least amount of words as possible. Click here to is 3 un-necessary words. 

As the updates nazi, I suggest replacing the words Click Here To" with something as simple as:

View Video or Watch Video
Read our Newsletter 
Browse our Sale Catalog 

All of these are active voice, direct, to the point, and the least amount of words as possible.

Here's another great blog on the history of why not to say CLICK HERE....

HA HA HA I just had to say it!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Goal Accomplished: Article in Angus Journal

I've always felt that journalism was my passion. Though today my career finds me doing more PR and graphic design work, it was writing that first drew me into the field of communications.

My college major was animal science. But that wasn't exactly how I planned it. I first applied to Texas A&M University under the Ag Journalism department. When I went for my new student conference and it came to the point where you go meet with your department advisor to schedule your classes, no one from the Ag Journalism department showed up. So there my mom and I were sitting alone in Kleberg looking around wondering what the heck do we do now??

After sitting there, feeling stupid, and waiting for the ag journalism people to show up, Dr. Chris Skaggs came in and saw us. We knew Dr. Skaggs from showing and judging. He asked what was wrong, and said hey, don't worry, come with me...we want you in animal science! So I switched my major and Dr. Skaggs got me enrolled. I always say that was probably one of the most pivotal moments of my college career. Just think how my life would have been different if it wouldn't have been for the great people of the animal science  department like Dr. Skaggs, Dr. Boleman, and Dr. McNeill who shaped my life so much.

Despite the obvious shunning from the Deparment of Ag Journalism, which I've never quite got over, I graduated with a degree in animal science but I always had the passion for writing. When I was a junior at A&M, I wanted to take journalism classes for my electives. So I took the dreaded GSP (Grammar Spelling Punctuation) test that you had to pass to get admitted into the regular communications program. Made a perfect score. But since I was an animal science major (not communications) they still wouldn't let me in the journalism classes.

So, what did I do? Well, to be honest, I never gave up. I tried a different route...doing things on my own. I bought journalism textbooks and read them even though I wasn't in the classes. I got a mentor, Martha Garrett, who let me do some writing for her and she critiqued and edited it for me. I volunteered at The Eagle (Bryan Newspaper) and wrote for them to gain experience under the mentorship of Beverly Mosely. I volunteered with the TAMU Ag News team and wrote news releases. I joined the AgriLeader staff. I stalked news releases put out by the TAMU public relations office and I tried to learn everything I could in every way I could, even though Texas A&M journalism department seemed to keep closing the doors on me.

At that time, I idolized the Angus Journal. To me this was (and still is) the premier beef cattle breed association publication. I applied for their internship. Made the finals, went to St. Joe to interview, but didn't get selected. So, I then applied for a program they had at that time called the "Young Guns Writer Program" or something like that. It was for college students and you wrote articles kind of as mini-internships. I wrote several, submitted them, but none got published. I remember looking each month at the other ag journalism students who's stories made it and I'll admit, I was jealous.

One of my favorite songs of the summer is Eli Young's Keep on Dreaming. There's a line in that song that says "Some dreams stay with you forever, drag you around and bring you back to where you were. Some dreams keep on getting better, gotta keep believing if you want to know for sure." That is one of my favorite lyrics ever, because it's true.

I'm 33 years old, and it's been over 10 years since I sat there in my little office at Kleberg looking at the Angus Journal online and wishing it would be MY name on the byline. Between then and now, I've become a leading ag communications professional in the world, written a book, won 30 national design awards, and won Aggie 100 5 years in a row. But as they say, some dreams stay with you forever. And I'm proud to say that this May, I finally accomplished that goal. One of my stories was published in their May issue, and you can read it here:

You're never too old, or too professionally successful to re-visit old goals, set new goals and accomplish them. And it's true, if you keep on dreaming, and keep on trying, you CAN accomplish anything you want. It might take you 10 years, or even longer, but you CAN.