• Author
    Owen Roberts
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  • Location
    Guelph, Ontario
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    Owen Roberts teaches agricultural communications at the Ontario Agricultural College and has been director of research communications at the University of Guelph for over 25 years. He's also a regular columnist -- the Urban Cowboy -- for the Guelph Mercury. Roberts is currently the vice-president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ).

Get your ag blog started with this easy-to-use structure

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Online journals – or blogs (originally called web logs) – are versatile, accessible and increasingly popular for promoting dialogue and understanding. Through words, photos and videos, bloggers help address society’s insatiable hunger for knowledge, opinion and sense of community. More than 152 million blogs currently exist, with nearly 173,000 added every day, a new one every half second. That’s a busy communications environment! And that means it’s vital to know how to make your blog stand out and reach people.

One approach for getting started is to focus on structure and content. Agricultural communications professor Jim Evans from the University of Illinois and I have developed a three-paragraph template you can use as a structural roadmap for your ag blog. Each paragraph should be only about 100 words long. And each paragraph should be dedicated to easily identifiable and logical aspects of your topic. For example, commit the first paragraph to solely discussing the issue. That way, readers have a foundation for what you’re about to introduce in the second paragraph, which is the news or the new development in the issue. And finally, in the third paragraph, offer your opinion about the new development.

Here’s why it works. In your opening paragraph, you build credibility by objectively demonstrating a clear understanding of the issue. This is a vitally important starting point – the worldwide web is open to everyone, and many readers may have little understanding of the issue, despite its importance. The second paragraph brings life to the post by highlighting what’s new, again in an objective manner to maintain credibility. By paragraph three, readers will be grounded enough to fully understand your opinions. Jumping the queue on any of these steps could jeopardize your message or compromise the logical flow of your thoughts. So remember the three-paragraph structure… and happy blogging!

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