Professor Jefferson Miller wants to help agriculture communicators improve their blogging skills.
Understanding how food and agriculture blogs are used can help industry communicators improve how they talk to consumers, says Jefferson Miller, professor of agricultural communications.
Miller, a researcher and professor in the Department of Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology at the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, set out to explain a blog post on livestock farm production.
“I think it’s important to categorize and characterize blog coverage on this topic so that other communicators can understand how blogging is being used in the industry,” said Miller.
Miller said he chose to focus on the livestock and protein industries because there is limited research for blogs on that industry. It is intended to be usable
“We want to help agricultural marketing communications professionals understand how blogs can be used in ways that promote the positive aspects of agricultural production,” said Miller.
Former U of A graduate student Kylie Hackworth worked with Miller as part of her senior thesis. She completed her Master’s Degree in Agriculture and Extension Education in 2019.
Associate Professor Jill Rucker. Instructor Cassandra Cox. Her Karli Yarber, a senior graduate assistant, all in the agricultural education, communications and technology departments, joined Miller’s project.
Peruse protein blogs
Researchers started by selecting blog posts to evaluate. Their goal was to find a variety of blogs aimed at the general public where bloggers write about animal production, animal-based proteins, or protein alternatives.Ultimately, Miller and his team We identified his eight blogs representing three categories. There are professional blogs written by nutritionists and other professionals, blogs of organizations representing industries and activist groups, and personal blogs written by non-professional individuals on various topics.
Using a dedicated coding system and NVivo 11 content analysis software, researchers analyzed 37 blog posts selected from 8 blogs. They rated the posts’ standout themes and categorized their tone as positive, negative, or neutral.
The most prominent themes were the environment, protein consumption, alternative protein sources, and alternative diets. Bloggers discussing animal protein consumption and its dietary benefits wrote positively about the industry and the environment. Bloggers discussing and consuming animal protein tended to criticize the industry. was
“Each of these themes we saw, the connection to the positive or the negative, wasn’t really surprising. It’s probably what you’d expect.” I was able to explain the tone empirically.”
When bloggers discuss the environment, they often talk about the risks of livestock production to the environment, and bloggers discuss the benefits of consuming protein, along with protein consumption.
The role of many agricultural communicators is to promote the animal production industry, Miller said. Communicators can use this information to share relevant science-based information with bloggers in the agricultural industry.
“That’s really the bottom line: making AG Communicators more strategic,” says Miller.
This research was funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, “Improving Consumer Understanding of Agriculture Through Blogs and Microblogs.” The research was published in the Journal of Agricultural Education in 2022.
Miller conducts research for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, a research arm of the U of A System Division of Agriculture. His program focuses on the communication impact of his social media and blogs on agriculture and food production. He teaches an agricultural communication course at the U of A’s Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.
Miller also directs the U of A Agricultural Communications Experiential Learning Lab, coordinating a summer internship exchange in the UK and researching how best to establish an agricultural communications academic discipline in the UK.
For more information about the Agricultural Research Division, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website (https://aaes.uada.edu/). Follow us on Twitter. @ArkAgResearchFor more information on the agriculture sector, please visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter. @AgInArk.
About the agricultural sector: The mission of the University of Arkansas Systems Agriculture Division is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by linking sound research with the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and Joint Extension Service, the agricultural sector conducts research and extension work within the country’s historic land grant education system. The Department of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas system. It has offices in all 75 Arkansas counties and faculties on five system campuses. The University of Arkansas School of Agriculture recognizes race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or other legally protected status. and is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.