RealEnergy sector added to popular RealRanchers Social Initiative
November 29, 2012
Following multiple years of growth and success with the RealRanchers social media initiative, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA), in partnership with Encana Oil and Gas, are expanding to help tell the real story behind Wyoming's energy industry through their latest effort: RealEnergy.
"Agriculture and energy are the top two economies in Wyoming, which made the addition of RealEnergy in the summer of 2012 a really good fit to our efforts. Plus, in our state, the two industries are very intertwined, with several people working in both," explained WSGA Communication and Publications Director Liz Lauck of the cohesive expansion of RealRanchers through adding the RealEnergy section earlier this year.
In 2009, Encana Oil and Gas approached the WSGA with interest of funding a community develop project. Following community dialogs in five rural Wyoming communities, Encana and WSGA developed a project based on feedback received during the dialogs, and RealRanchers was born.
"All five communities said they would really like to be able to tell their story better. That government elected officials, consumers, and the general public no longer understood what happened on their ag operations and in their small towns, and that they wanted a way to share their stories with those people," explained Lauck of the idea that launched the RealRanchers blog, Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube accounts.
Today, producers from across Wyoming submit stories to Lauck for the blog on any topic relevant to their operation. The RealRanchers Facebook page and Twitter account serve as settings for dialog between consumers and producers, allowing either side to comment on issues, questions or concerns pertaining to the agriculture industry. YouTube has provided a means of visually sharing how tasks are completed on agriculture operations in addition to showcasing the producers themselves, giving people a visual of what the American farmer, rancher and small townsmen looks like.
"I also started traveling the state in 2011 and cataloging stories to include on the blog as we continue to grow. Part of my travels took me on a tour of the Jonah Oil Field in the Pinedale area, and I was so impressed by the people who worked in the oil industry. They took pride in what they produced, took care of the land, and produced a product that keeps our country running; much like the Wyoming agriculture industry," explained Lauck.
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Furthermore, the oil and gas industry also deals with a lot of misperceptions regarding their practices, much like agriculture, and the two industries are heavily intertwined within Wyoming. Lauck said those things all combined to solidify the need for adding a RealEnergy sector to the RealRanchers initiative.
"There are so many myths and misconceptions about the energy industry, and it's important for people to understand the truth. When a third party person hears what I have to say, I think I have a high degree of credibility with them. However, when a message comes out of the energy industry, some people tend to view it with skepticism. But, when you have a blog or Facebook page that posts things in a way that allows everyone the opportunity to comment and discuss the topic, it adds another level of credibility. I think it's important to provide those means of communication to people about both the ranching and energy industries," stated Encana Oil and Gas Community Relations Advisor Randy Teeuwen, who has worked with the WSGA and Lauck from the beginning on the RealRanchers and RealEnergy projects.
Lauck explained that while the majority of RealRanchers posts are sent to her by producers, at present the majority of RealEnergy posts are from information she has collected personally.
"Since launching it, the RealEnergy stories have primarily been what I collected during my travels, and what our summer intern collected while with us. However, as with RealRanchers, we welcome folks to contact us, and send us their stories about working in or with the oil fields, coal mines, or other sectors of the energy industry. A story can be anything from a picture and couple sentences, to a longer piece with multiple photos, to a video from a day at work. We like variety," explained Lauck of how people with experience in the energy industry can contribute.
Lauck also recently increased blog posts to twice a week, with a mixture of RealRanchers and RealEnergy topics covered. She provides timely agriculture and energy questions, comments and ideas on the Facebook page almost daily, and encourages people to send questions, concerns and facts her way to include for discussion among the more than 1,500 followers of the Facebook page.
"At present the blog averages 400 views a week, with over 16,500 views this year from 108 countries. We are continuously growing, and also consider it a good sign that we've had enough interest from people posting to increase the volume of content we're putting out for the public to read," noted Lauck of the success of the project has had with both viewers and contributors.
"I encourage people to use those social media tools and share their experiences. I think that's the value of RealRanchers and RealEnergy: people can take a few minutes and be involved in sharing with others their experiences in a genuine manner. The WSGA, with Liz as the driving factor, have done an excellent job," added Teeuwen.
For more information, or to submit a story, contact Liz Lauck at firstname.lastname@example.org.