British Guild of Agricultural Journalists
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BGAJ eAlert - November 2013

Professional training programme

An informal workshop featuring a number of increasingly used interactive online communication channels is the topic for the Guild’s next professional training opportunity on Tuesday, December 3 from 5.45-8.00pm at Chesford Grange, Kenilworth, Warwicks CV8 2LD.

BPEX knowledge transfer communications manager Helen Brothwell, a Member of the Guild; HGCA’s web manager Nick Lucey; and DairyCo’s digital team will lead the workshop; the organising team would also welcome contributions from other Guild members with relevant experience – contact management Council member Julie Mate with offers.

The workshop will cover the pros, cons and practicalities of Webinars, Teleconferencing, Live online streaming of events and Web video content. A fee of just £10 will contribute towards refreshments, room hire and facilities. Secure a place by contacting Midlands secretary Liz Snaith.

Transferring membership to the ‘new Guild’

All Members and Friends of the Guild should have received an eAlert on or around October 29 inviting them to transfer to the ‘new Guild’ following the successful incorporation of the organisation as a Company limited by Guarantee.

“Outwardly, nothing changes but incorporation brings useful benefits in terms of bank accounts and liability,” explains management Council member Adrian Bell, who handled the process. “It’s a formality – but an important one, nonetheless – that we have written consent from all Members and Friends to transfer to the Guild in its incorporated form. I ask anyone who hasn’t already done so to complete, sign and send in the form as soon as possible.”

Any Member or Friend who cannot find the relevant document should contact Guild secretary Nikki Robertson by email or phone: 07584 022909.

Subscriptions and fees for 2014

In line with the agreed annual review process, the annual subscription paid by Members and the fee paid by Friends of the Guild in 2014 will increase by just under 3% in line with the RPI in August to £70 (from £68). The subscription for Retired Members – ie members who have applied for this status in writing to the Guild secretary and who forego voting rights – increases to £35 (from £34).

Final call for Christmas Card orders

The ‘packing and posting’ team at ABC Comms has been busy responding to orders for the Guild’s Christmas Card, which this year features a traditional sheep in snow image donated by freelance photographer John Eveson. All proceeds go to the Guild’s Charitable Trust capital fund.

Training award success

Another succesful Guild training course for prospective rural journalists was completed earlier this year, with 10 participants undertaking classroom exercises at the offices of sponsor John Deere, followed by work experience at several host publications and agencies. The John Deere Training Award prizes for best news stories written during the course were also awarded - see the website page for details.

Jobs & Recruitment

Vacant positions are mentioned in Guild eAlerts as a service to members but a recruitment advertising service is also available to organisations that wish to put full details about a post in front of the Guild's 500 members involved in journalism and commercial communications. More details about this service are available on the website here.

All current advertisements are displayed in the eAlerts Archive section of the Guild website.

Devon-based PR agency Reverberate, run by Philip Gibson, a Member of the Guild, is recruiting an account director to work from home handling PR assignments. Reverberate specialises in the food supply chain, from major retailers and food manufacturers to the agricultural supply industry and farmers.

Year Book updates

Update the Guild Year Book with the new job, location and contact details noted here, as well as any new member listings below. Earlier updates can be found in the eAlerts Archive section of the Guild website. Remember to send change of job, address, telephone or email details to Guild secretary Nikki Robertson.

Freelance writer and columnist Sarah Birchall has moved from Ashford in Kent to Red Ley Farm, Letton, Herefordshire HR3 6DT. Tel: 01981 500628. Mobile: 07711 290866. Her email address is unchanged.

Lantra’s Online Marketing Manager, Kate Brannan is now Kate Hurst and is currently on maternity leave from the training organisation. Colleague Gill Ryan is dealing with enquiries.

The Wales and London-based managing director of international agri-PR agency Broglio has changed her name from Kevin to Karen Brewer. Consequently, her email address is now but all other contact details are unchanged.

A new initiative to help dairy industry entrants is being headed by Jessica Buss, former Farmers Weekly livestock editor and British Grassland Society director - see News on the Guild website. Jessica's contact details are now: Dairy Futures. Tel: 01926 711941 Mobile: 07929 044564 Email:

Sarah Chase has left her post as head of PR and marketing at farming television broadcaster Rural Media Group; she can be contacted at or 00 1 402-889-5152.

Red Rock Publicity moved offices earlier this year so Phil Christopher's address is now: Unit 123, 8 Shoplatch, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 1HF. Telephone and email are unchanged.

Sheila Coleman of Coleman Communications has a new email address: but all other contact details remain as published in the Year Book.

Northumberland-based freelance Sandy Cox has taken on the role of sub-editor as well as contributor to the Sundial Magazines title Classic Tractor, working with fellow Guild member Rory Day.

Freelance, blogger and AgriChatUK co-host on Twitter Jez Fredenburgh has joined Farmers Weekly as business reporter. Her contact details are: Tel: 0208 652 4920. Email:

Former deputy business editor at Farmers Weekly Gemma Mackenzie is now Energy Reporter at The Press & Journal, Aberdeen. She can be reached on 01224 343051 or by her new email address.

Ben Pike has left the editor’s chair at the NFU’s British Farmer & Grower to operate freelance offering his journalism expertise in renewable energy, farming conference coverage and agri-politics, while also helping small agricultural companies with their PR. He can be contacted at: Ben Pike Communications, 1 Bascote Chase, Bascote, Southam, Warwickshire CV47 2EZ. Tel: 01926 814278 Mobile: 07832 168560 Email:

Polly Stevenson, former marketing and PR manager for AMC and Lloyds Bank Agriculture in Andover, Hampshire has left her post and is seeking part-time or freelance opportunities. She can be contacted on 07789 188062, by email ( or via LinkedIn (

Moving back to Blighty

Guild member George Macpherson and his wife Jane have decided to come back to Somerset. “After seven great years in south-west France, we now want to be nearer the family and grandchildren,” says George. “I hope to take part in more Guild activities from the west country.” Their four-bedroom property at Riberac in the Dordogne is for sale; it comes with a swimming pool and large garden, and two cottages that can be let and used to accommodate visiting friends and family. More details here.

New Members and Friends

Members who would like to invite colleagues and industry contacts to consider joining the Guild can direct them to the Membership Benefits website page here, where a PDF leaflet and an application form can be downloaded. People involved in the agricultural industry who would like to establish or maintain links with the Guild and its Members but do not qualify for membership themselves can become a Friend to receive eAlerts, attend events and be listed in the Year Book.

This month we say goodbye to freelance Norman Dunn, based in Münster, Germany, who is retiring. Norman writes: “I joined the Guild in 1971 when a farm writer with the Press & Journal in Aberdeen and since then I've been a staff writer on four separate publications before turning to freelancing  for the past 23 years, reporting and broadcasting for my own organisation on the continent.

During these 40-odd years the Guild has provided a huge number of friends and lasting contacts within the agribusiness and reporting world. I shall certainly always be grateful for its support over the years. Now it's time to spend much more time with the family in Scotland and New Zealand.”

New Farming Media Centre progress

Good progress is being made with a new Farming Media Centre for the Guild website. It will be similar to the existing online directory of members but will also feature a listing of publications, websites and broadcast programmes covering agriculture and related topics that will illustrate the breadth and depth of members' work.

Ben Briggs, Farmers Guardian news and business editor and a member of the Guild management Council, is helping to populate the directory while also contributing News stories to the Guild website.

The searchable members' listing will cover interests, expertise and services offered as before but members can display phone numbers and email address if they wish, include a portrait photograph and update their own entries. Guild member Rose Beddington has updated her record as a test and says: "All went well; the site was easy to work and to update my details."

The new system will also provide an online database for easier management of membership records alongside an online direct debit service to replace a clunky paper-based system. Among other advantages, it will routinely issue receipts.

The Farming Media Centre will also display and provide listings text for future Year Books. Guild freelance members Andrew Blake and Mike Bird are helping to populate the records with information from the current Year Book but a few more volunteers would get the task completed without it being a burden on just a few.

"I'm asking volunteers to upload entries from just four pages of the Year Book, which doesn't take very long," says website editor Peter Hill. "Anyone willing to contribute just a few hours' work during the day or evenings can volunteer by phone (01491 824355) or email to help with a project that I think will be of great value to members."

In News on the Guild website

Year Book editors stepping down Third anniversary for northern farming title Royal Welsh stalwart is focus of Gaina Morgan's new book New Service Dealer magazine publishing agreement Guild member Jessica aims to give new entrants a helping hand Guild's BSH bursary provides global perspective Gemma heads for Aberdeen after calling time on FW career Guild photographers showcase their work for RABI

Send in your news

Please send any career news, publication/website launches or redesigns, agency appointments, award wins and campaigns, etc, to website and eAlerts editor Peter Hill.


Contact the Guild secretary, Nikki Robertson, if you wish to: Apply for Retired Member status to pay the reduced subscription Apply to become a Member of the Guild as a Friend who now qualifies for membership Notify that you are resigning from the Guild


Johann Tasker

01206 263807


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