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Moudy personifies media relations

—By Andy Dietrick
Public Relations Team

Elkhart County Farm Bureau public relations coordinator Dwight Moudy during one of his appearance on WNDU in South Bend.

Dwight Moudy, public relations coordinator for Elkhart County Farm Bureau, speaks matter-of-factly about how he and other Farm Bureau members have become the go-to sources for local media. Moudy is on the top of the list when reporters call looking for information about the county’s agricultural community.

But it wasn’t always that way in this northern Indiana county, and agriculture didn’t become a media mainstay overnight. According to Moudy, you have to stick with it.

“You have to have persistence. You have to be willing to be told ‘no’ five hundred times,” he advises with a bit of hyperbole. “Because on the five hundred and first, they are going to say ‘yes’ and run with your story.”In fact, Moudy offered up 25-30 story ideas before the local television station, WNDU in South Bend, took him up on the offer. During this period of story pitching and relationship building, Moudy discovered that the anchor of the morning news was a farm girl, still tied to her family farm in Ohio and very interested in doing stories about local agriculture. But because she was behind the anchor desk, producing stories from the field was difficult.

“Then they got a younger reporter in, one with a real interest in agriculture,” Moudy remembers. “She bought herself some boots and is not afraid to come out and talk and videotape. When it’s twelve below zero, she’s out there doing her job. She’s been great to work with.”

Local agriculture proved to be fertile ground for the new WNDU reporter, and she has since made on-air visits with local farmers a regular part of her beat: road safety reminders during planting, seasonal crop updates, teaching Cowboy Ethics at a grade school, the effects of too much or too little rain, the ravages of a brutal winter or a deadly pig virus. And all of those stories were shaped to some degree by Moudy and his fellow Farm Bureau members.

“I write up the idea, research it, loosely script the interview, let them know which points we’d like to cover, look for someone to talk on camera, and email copies to both the reporter and the person being interviewed,” Moudy explains. “That way, everyone is literally on the same page so the interview goes smoothly and editing is kept to a minimum.”

Moudy’s tactics track like a Media Relations 101 textbook. Get to know reporters, find out what kind of stories they want, round up good interviews and on-air personalities, make sure the content matters to the community, do what you can to make the reporter’s job easier. And above all, be truthful and transparent.

That formula has worked with the print media, too. In fact, the Elkhart County Farm Bureau PR coordinator finds that the multiple print outlets in his area are a better vehicle for more complex, policy-driven discussions such as zoning, regulation and legislation. He works with reporters to share facts and resources and to make sure the Farm Bureau position is clear.

But for Moudy, good media relations boils down to one thing.

“You have to have passion. Facts and research are necessary, but you have to be passionate about your message,” he says. “You have to believe that farmers and ranchers are doing it right. Because we are! Farmers and ranchers are doing the job better than anyone in the world, and we should take pride in what we do.”

And that is the clear message that Dwight Moudy shares with the print and electronic media in Elkhart County every chance he gets.

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