By Jamie Cole, AAEA 2021-22 Board of Directors Member
I remember a couple of years ago having a discussion with a fellow member about my slow, inevitable slide to the "dark side." I think I was a little bummed—just being honest here—about my "member status" changing within the organization after 20-plus years of membership. I was not bummed at all about the content I was creating; some of the most exciting and creative work of my career is "client work." The conversation was about how our awards program recognizes that kind of work, and the changes this fellow member was proposing to fit client work into our awards program.
2021 turned out to be the first year the MarComm category recognized individual work with "Master" levels and an "Of The Year" award, just like writing, photography and design. Often, client work calls on all categories of media experience and knowledge, throwing in those three disciplines with digital and social media as well. Multi-platform storytelling for client content is not a novelty, it's an expectation.
It was a great thrill and honor to be AAEA's first "Communicator of the Year," but I could make the case that as our organization grows and evolves into its second century, we are all going to be called upon to be multi-platform "communicators." I appreciate the distinction from the MarComm perspective, but all our "categories" are meshing, melding, melting into one another. Every discipline and platform is in play for reaching audiences these days. Clients demand it, and so do audiences... If you're not on the platform where they live, they will engage with someone who is.
My fortunate position is to work with clients who understand that, and to have worked with and for some of the most generous and forward-thinking folks in the ag media business. In my days at DTN/Progressive Farmer, editorial and creative leadership encouraged the wearing of multiple hats. They allowed me to be a "utility player," and I was beyond happy with that charge. Since starting Red Barn Media Group, iconic brands like Massey Ferguson, Gleaner, Hesston, Fendt, Sunflower and others have trusted us to tell their stories. And at the end of it all, the audience AND the star of the show is the farmer. I'm grateful for all of it, but most grateful that farm families let us into their lives, sometimes for days at a time, armed with drones, GoPros, DSLRs, handheld cams, audio recorders that look like Tasers (seriously, check out the Zoom HD on Amazon!)... and they do it with patience and an eagerness to share how they do what they do.
Speaking of how we do what we do... The eternal lesson in our business is to never stop learning lessons. There is no such thing as static for a media practitioner.
Here's to all the "communicators" and all the hats we wear.
Jamie Cole is the Creative Director for the Red Barn Media Group. In addition to being named the 2021 AAEA Communicator of the Year, Jamie, working with the Red Barn Media Group, won seven awards in the "Photo," "Design," "MarComm," and "Digital and Social Media" categories.
Read the entries he submitted for the 2021 Communicator of the Year Award below.