Rural America Communications Strategies
OUTdrive Episode 40 with Chris Pyle
In this episode of OUTdrive, Cliff visits with Chris Pyle, an assistant superintendent with the Sedalia, Missouri 200 school district, a rancher and rodeo announcer. Whether it is making a difference in students’ lives through education or announcing at a national rodeo, Chris is a hardworking, down-to-earth guy that loves sharing his interests with others in rural America.
Read more for insight into effective communication strategies to reach rural Americans, the rodeo industry and competition, and the impact rodeo has had on Chris’ life. We also discuss Chris’ unique ranching operation raising professional bucking bulls and his career as an educator.
Effectively Communicating with Rural Audiences
As a school administrator, rodeo announcer and former rodeo competitor, Chris has many different interests, just like many other rural Americans. For some brands, it can be challenging to effectively communicate with audiences with such varied interests. However, there are many tactics and platforms that can be used to be effective, including video, podcasts, social media. Utilizing a variety of platforms with strategic messaging to appeal to the rural American mindset is a winning combination. Chris elaborates on this, sharing insights into how brands can reach him personally as a consumer.
“I think a variety of efforts that are made in the advertising area are useful,” says Chris. “I enjoy learning from podcasts myself, and my two teenage kids enjoy podcasts. I think you have to stay with the current times. With podcasts, people learn and it’s something they can say, ‘This is an area I’m interested in,’ and find the avenue that is directed towards their likes and interests.”
Podcasts are growing in popularity because they’re a great way for listeners to learn about topics they’re interested in, in a personal and easy to consume way. They are convenient and can be listened to while also doing other things, such as exercising or driving to work. Brands must remember that although podcasts are popular and effective, other platforms remain effective as well.
“I think that you still have to consider social media and different things,” says Chris. “For advertising, things happen so quickly utilizing that type of technology. As a rural American, to spark my interest, it takes a variety. I think radio is still important and utilizing new technology is needed because it’s an ever-changing world.”
A variety of platforms and strategies are vital to reaching audiences where they are because every consumer has different media consumption preferences. For many consumers in rural America, print media can also be effective.
Cliff adds to this point by emphasizing the importance of incorporating print, specifically industry publications. “It takes a variety and sort of a layered approach to reach people where they are in different ways,” says Cliff. “In our business, when I got started, everything was print-driven. I think about that today, and magazines are still around. I think every industry has publications geared to that industry, but if you’re not interested in it, you don’t even know those publications are out there.”
Chris goes on to agree with Cliff’s point. “I still have and enjoy magazine subscriptions. I still enjoy, at the end of a long day, being able to sit down and hold something in my hands and flip through it. I still feel like there is a place and a value there.”
Contrary to popular belief, print is very much alive and an effective way to connect with audiences. With advances in technology, print and direct mail are a vital part of an integrated marketing plan. For more insights, read about how direct mail is changing through the integration of traditional tactics and big data.
Social Media and Word-of-Mouth Marketing
As a business owner, Chris also understands the challenges of reaching customers. He shares insights into how he markets American Bucking Bull from his ranch.
“Nowadays with social media, different Facebook groups and bucking bull websites, people can see these bulls compete right away. What we do, like many of us that are in this industry, is video our bulls performing. We share that on different sites and word of mouth is still a major factor in our industry. So it’s a big world, but a small enough world as well, when something’s out there that can compete, the word gets out soon. So modern-day technology is a blessing for what we do.”
Utilizing technology and understanding the importance of word-of-mouth marketing sets Chris and other rural American business owners up for success to effectively reach their audiences.
Rural American Values Prevalent in American Rodeo
Whether it’s in education or running his ranch, strong values are at the heart of everything Chris does. He credits the rodeo industry for instilling such strong values in him from a young age.
“The neat thing about what rodeo schools push is that they teach goal setting, and they definitely introduced every youngster to the Lord,” says Chris. “They hoped that you would become saved and tie your life into what you were trying to do as a competitor. As I think back on that, it really helped me and my life overall.”
Chris is proud of the prevalence of these values in American rodeo today. “It’s truly an American sport,” says Chris. “It started from an industry and way of life. At every rodeo, you’re going to hear a prayer and the national anthem, and American values and freedoms are going to be appreciated.”
Rodeo is a great representation of the rural way of life. It incorporates rural values and relies on many hardworking individuals to make it all happen. No matter what city or state, nearly all individuals involved in rodeo share a similar rural American mindset.
The Rural American Mindset
Every individual has their own idea or definition of the rural American mindset, but many share common themes. Chris shares what rural America and the rural mindset mean to him.
“I really do feel like it’s the best of America. I think it’s a place where you can trust your neighbor. The picture that comes to mind is a family that gathers at the table for a meal as often as they can. And I think it’s a mindset, that the world can be a positive place if you’re willing to treat others with respect and care.”
Cliff drives the point home to emphasize the mindset perspective. “I know a lot of people who live in the cities, but still have that rural American mindset, either from their visits out here or maybe they grew up here. I really do think it’s a mindset that transcends geography, and it can be anywhere.”
Connecting with others, regardless of geographical location, is what makes the rural mindset unique. Understanding this mindset allows brands to effectively communicate and connect with rural audiences across a variety of platforms. Gain more insight from Cliff and Chris and hear more great stories in this episode of OUTdrive. Check it out!