For the past year, a special AAEA- The Agricultural Communicators Network Membership taskforce has been hard at work to add clarity to and redefine our current membership categories. With the goals of A) appealing to new members, B) creating more leadership opportunities for more members and C) avoiding ambiguity in the category descriptions, the taskforce and your AAEA Board of Directors are proposing a modified member category listing to you, the membership. Please review the information below regarding these proposed changes.
Active membership shall be limited to persons in editorial staff positions, or freelancers who receive payment for editorial copy and/or photos for general or specialized farm publications and/or electronic media produced in the United States, Mexico or Canada. Such publications and/or electronic media must EITHER:
- have paid circulation OR
- accept advertising on a paid basis. Freelance writers and/or photographers will be required to provide specific verification of their editorial copy and/or photos for said media.
An active member who retires or partially retires after ten years of membership in good standing may retain his or her membership and continue to participate in the affairs of the Association unless a change in job description requires membership re-classification. Specifically excluded from eligibility for active membership are persons who are primarily publishers and advertising, circulation or production employees.
Affiliate membership shall be available to persons not eligible for active membership but whose participation is judged to be in the best interests of the Association. Eligibility for such membership shall be limited to:
- Persons engaged in editorial, photographic or public relations work directly related to agriculture, and
- Persons engaged in agricultural communications and employed by government agencies, educational institutions and foundations.
Honorary life membership may be granted to members who have rendered distinguished service to the Association and to agriculture. Such membership must be approved by a majority vote of the active membership, following investigation and recommendation by a Membership Committee. Honorary membership shall have all rights and privileges of active membership. Nominations for honorary membership must be submitted in writing at least 30 days prior to the Association’s annual meeting.
Student membership may be granted to persons enrolled full-time in an approved agricultural communications curriculum at a college or university. Student members can attend meetings of the Association and participate in discussions, but they have no vote in Association business matters.
Retired membership shall be available to either active or affiliate members who are retiring and are at least 62 years of age. Retired members can attend meetings of the association and participate in discussions, but they have no vote in Association business matters.
Individuals working for general or specialized agricultural publication or media outlet published in the United States or Canada and which either (1) has paid circulation and/or (2) accepts paid advertising. The primary source of funding for the media outlet comes from either paid circulation or paid advertising. The primary job function of the communicator is media and content creation.
Editorial members are eligible to serve on the board of directors and to be elected an officer of the association.
Individuals engaged in content creation, photography, video, design, digital and social media, blogging or other communications work directly related to publishing content about agriculture or food. Individuals engaged in agricultural communications work for a governmental agency, an educational institution, a non-profit institution or foundation, or an agribusiness company.
Associate members are eligible to serve on the board of directors and to be elected an officer of the association.
At least the current president or vice president must be an Editorial member. No more than one associate member can be the president or vice president.
Individuals employed by agribusiness companies, marketing and public relations agencies, commodity organizations, government agencies and others who support AAEA but whose individual role does not have an editorial or content generation function. Communicators who primarily advocate for a position or are sponsored content providers are eligible for partner membership.
Partner members can serve on AAEA committees but are not eligible to serve on the board of directors.
Full-time student enrolled in an approved agricultural or communications curriculum.
Student members can serve on AAEA committees but are not eligible to serve on the board of directors.
Retired memberships are available for members who are retired and no longer working in a communications role.
Retiree members can serve on AAEA committees but are not eligible to serve on the board of directors.
Honorary Life Member
Honorary life membership may be granted to members who have rendered distinguished service to the association and to agriculture.
Honorary life members are eligible to serve on committees and the board of directors.
To listen to a webinar discussing these categories, view the video below.
- Why are membership class changes being considered?
The new membership classes are being proposed to better reflect the strategic direction of AAEA- The Ag Communicators Network, reflect changes in the ag communications industry, serve our membership and increase leadership opportunities for members within the association.
- What determines the membership classes?
The proposed membership classes are primarily based on two factors. The first is the individual’s role in his or her organization. Those with a strong editorial and content creation role fall into the Editorial and Associate membership classes. If an individual’s role is mostly marketing or creating sponsored content he or she falls into the Partner membership class.
The second factor is who the member works for. Members employed by agricultural publications and outlets who are primarily funded by either paid circulation or paid advertising fall under the Editorial class. Members who are employed by associations, educational institutions, government agencies and companies who produce publications or editorial content fall under the Associate class.
Note that a member’s role will determine if they fall into the Partner class. This means that members who work for an association, educational institution, government agency or company who primarily have marketing, media relations, industry relations, management or other non-editorial and non-content creation roles fall under the Partner class.
- How did the taskforce come up with these classifications?
The membership taskforce spent a considerable amount of time comparing the AAEA Constitution to the state of the industry. We looked at what our members do and who they do work for. We then polled the membership and key influencers to determine what would be best and most supported by the group. We carefully considered perspectives from various members with different roles before presenting a recommendation to the board of directors.
- What about freelancers who write for both agricultural publications but also do public relations work for an association and write for company publications?
In these cases, the membership class will be determined by the percentage of your work. For example, if at least 50% of your time is spent working for a publication who primarily is funded by paid circulation or outside advertising, you would be an Editorial member. If most of your time is spent doing media relations and marketing work with a little bit of writing for a governmental publication, you would be a Partner member.
- Is there a difference for writers, broadcasters and people who publish digitally?
No, all three examples are considered content providers and would fall into membership classes based on whom they work for and whether or not it is sponsored content that advocates for a certain position.
- Who determines in which class a member belongs?
Membership classification is self-designated by members when they join AAEA-The Ag Communicators Network. However, the Membership Committee and AAEA staff also review membership classes and may reclassify members as needed.
- Can you give examples of who falls into which proposed Membership class?
Based on the membership survey that was conducted in January, the following would likely apply:
- A senior editor at a traditional ag magazine.
- A freelance writer who works more than 50% of the time for ag publications that are primarily funded by outside advertising or have a paid circulation, public relations agencies and an association publication.
- An issues reporter for a weekly newspaper owned by an ag organization.
- A university news and communications writer.
- A graphic designer for an equipment company owned magazine with strong editorial content that is not product specific.
- A public relations account executive who spends most of his/her time writing product-related press releases.
- A marketing manager at a seed company.
- A sales manager for an agricultural newspaper.
- How will you know that an editorial member generates revenue primarily from paid circulation or paid advertising?
In most cases, it should be clear if a publication gets most of its revenue from paid circulation or paid advertising. If there is a question, the Membership Committee will do it’s best to gather information and make a determination.
- Is there a limit of how many board members can be Partners?
Since Affiliate members currently have two seats on the board, Partner members will most likely have two seats. Editorial and Associate members will hold other positions. It is up to the Nomination Committee and all AAEA members to nominate and select members for the board.
- What are “Communicators who primarily advocate for a position or are sponsored content providers are eligible for Partner membership.”
These are individuals are essentially paid spokespeople for an organization who specifically advocate or lobby for a position or promote a company’s or other organization’s products or positions.
- Who can I contact for additional information or questions about proposed membership classes and changes?
You can reach out to:
Julie Deering, AAEA president,firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Roady, AAEA Membership Task Force chair, email@example.com or 618 535-7937
Mike Wilson, AAEA past president and membership task force member, firstname.lastname@example.org
- When and how will these classes be voted on? How can I provide feedback?
The constitution mandates that any suggested amendments (in this case, the descriptions and qualifications for membership categories) be presented and voted on at the annual AAEA membership meeting. This is held at Ag Media Summit in Scottsdale, AZ on Tuesday afternoon, August 7. The AAEA board will be hosting listening sessions in the meantime to accommodate hearing the thoughts and desires of AAEA members who cannot attend in person. You may provide feedback to any of the contacts listed in question 11, or reach out to our office via phone at 706-407-2550.
Annual Business Meeting Conference Call
Click here to RSVP to comment/listen via phone.
We want to hear from you. For questions or comments, please contact Julie Deering, AAEA President, at email@example.com, Amy Roady, Membership Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Samantha Kilgore, Executive Director, at email@example.com, 706-407-2550.