How I Went from Milking Cows and Pruning Fruit Trees to Writing Press Releases
Written by Lauren Goodacre
Most people have never heard of agricultural communications. When I first declared it my major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, even I wasn’t sure I fully understood what I was getting myself into. A family friend had recommended the major to me, saying it was “a great way to get communications experience with a little agriculture mixed in.”
Whenever I told people I was studying agricultural science and communications, I’d literally hear things like: “So that’s basically talking to cows, right?” and “How come you aren’t wearing cowboy boots and a Carhartt jacket?”
Teasing aside, I’d always dreamed of working in communications and figured this major was my way in. Even though the only thing I knew about agriculture was that my hometown happened to be in one of the most popular wine country regions in the state, I was intrigued by the idea of studying agriculture, an industry I thought I could learn a lot from. So I took a chance. I figured I’d learn communications, and pick up some basic knowledge about plants and animals and maybe some wine tasting skills along the way. Wrong.
In my time at Cal Poly, my major demanded that I drive a tractor, study walking stick bugs, make cheese and ice cream from scratch, design newsletters, write articles and create PR campaigns. I even took up line dancing as a hobby and missed President Obama’s 2009 inaugural address because I had to prune rose bushes for class credit. I learned a lot about different agricultural industries while designing, writing and reporting about them.
As my college education evolved, I started taking more communications classes and began to focus more on my passion for PR, knowing it would give me the same behind-the-scenes thrill as agriculture, but with a little less dirt. I was drawn to the idea of working in a field that many people don’t understand or realize exists, but is an integral part of many businesses’ success. By the time I graduated, I had begun to understand how to help companies effectively tell their story, and as a result, landed my first PR internship in San Francisco.
Surprisingly, my education in agriculture and my education in PR have a lot of similarities. In B2B enterprise tech (which I live and breathe every day now), several of my clients power the backend technologies that consumers use on a daily basis. In agriculture, farmers and ranchers are the behind-the-scenes source for how food ends up in the grocery store or on the dinner table.
In agriculture, I was always surprised by the range of fields (pun intended) I was exposed to and I never experienced the same day twice. I tried my hand at everything from testing plant soil to basic woodworking to designing layouts. At Bhava, I work with companies in spaces such as DevOps, mobile analytics and online video delivery—and once again, I never do the same thing twice.
Though my work process no longer involves gloves or a shovel, I still have an opportunity to get my hands dirty in PR. Bhava is a unique agency that empowers employees at any level to get down “in the dirt” and take on projects that interest them. For example, my job consists of diving into the weeds of writing press releases, managing media relations, submitting speaking opportunities, developing strategic PR plans and creating the occasional InDesign project.
While I may never milk a cow or rototill a field in a John Deere tractor again, I will always cherish those experiences for giving me a eye-opening look at the vital and complex Ag industry that the average consumer doesn’t know much about—and for inspiring me to pivot into a life of PR, where the behind-the-scenes work we do also carries significant influence.