Fall 1988 // Volume 26 // Number 3 // Feature Articles // 3FEA7

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The Link That Gets Results


Michelle Robinson
Extension Agent, 4-H and Youth
Yamhill County
Oregon State University Extension Service-McMinnville

Debra Minar Driscoll
Extension Home Economics Agent
Deschutes County
Oregon State University Extension Service-Bend

Soon after Oregon's 10-member marketing task force was formed in 1984, it decided that if other Extension personnel - in the counties and on campus - were going to help market Extension, they needed to be involved and have a sense of ownership. In early 1985, each county office and on-campus program area were asked to select a marketing representative to attend a two-day orientation and training session presented by the task force. At this training session, the marketing representatives were introduced to an eight-step marketing process and a wide array of visibility materials to use in marketing Extension.

Representative's Position Description

Those attending also received a position description outlining the responsibilities and benefits of fulfilling the marketing representative role. Duties include: assume the leadership role for Extension marketing in your county or department (5-10 days per year), serve as liaison between local office and the state task force, provide orientation for all new staff (faculty and clerical), encourage the use of visibility tools, submit a yearly progress report to the director, and attend marketing representative meetings.

Representative's Benefits

One benefit of active participation as a marketing representative is an annual letter of recognition and support from the director of Extension to appropriate supervisors at performance appraisal time. In addition, they receive recognition for outstanding work and successful efforts at an annual spring meeting where the task force offers additional training and an opportunity to share ideas. A breakfast meeting is also held for representatives each year at the Extension Annual Conference.

In 1987, university administrators outside Extension were invited as special guests. Together, the task force and representatives informed these key decision makers on campus about the successful marketing effort being made by Extension and how it has become an asset to the university's present marketing campaign. The development of an exciting new kind of partnership has begun.

Keeping in Touch

Task force meeting minutes are sent to the representatives to keep them informed. In addition, each task force member is assigned as a liaison to four or five marketing representatives with the responsibility for communicating with them before the quarterly meetings. This way an effective network is maintained which in turn facilitates the sharing of successes, concerns, and suggestions.


Visibility Tools

Since Extension staff are creative individuals, and since creative thoughts lead to new ideas, Oregon's task force decided to capitalize on this talent. Every program that they plan always includes time for representatives to share success stories, new ideas, create wish lists, and brainstorm. What they discovered is that some of the best promotional efforts have evolved as a result of identifying needs and expressing ideas.

In many counties, agents felt that Extension offices weren't visible enough and were difficult for clients to find. As a result, Extension Service signs carrying our logo and slogan are now prominently displayed outside and inside county office buildings. Many counties have combined individual program newsletters into one tabloid that's mailed to all clientele. As a result, the local services available through Extension are now marketed to even more local residents. Clerical staff in the county offices now consistently answer the phones, "OSU, XYZ County Extension Service." The message that Extension is part of Oregon State University is being communicated to each caller.

In all of the counties you'll see other visibility tools in use - Extension Service folders, name tags, portable signs, brochures describing county staff and services, displays, hats and visors, decals for identifying equipment, note card stationery, pencils, logo slides, certificates of appreciation, overhead transparencies with the logo, and T-shirts. Most of these items were created by the Ag Communications Department as a result of a marketing representative's idea or wish.

Visibility tools are easy to obtain. Representatives simply order them from the Extension stockroom on campus. Some are free, others have a unit cost. Since 1985, the number of available visibility tools has doubled.


Not only do the best ideas result in items useful to Oregon's marketing effort, but other benefits exist as well. Representatives become stimulated and anxious to be more involved in the marketing effort. They have an opportunity to be creative and gain recognition among their colleagues. Finally, their commitment to marketing is strengthened - a critical link to the success of this statewide program.

Oregon is proof that a successful marketing program can happen statewide, at all levels within the system, and with a great deal of team spirit!

Marketing visibility tools.