Sharing the Stories of Rural America
Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary
OUTdrive Episode 41 with Andrew McCrea
In this episode of OUTdrive, Cliff Callis visits with Dr. Andrew McCrea, creator of the daily radio program “The American Countryside,” which is heard on over 100 radio stations and satellite nationwide. Andrew’s TV broadcasts are seen on weekends on RFD-TV. “The American Countryside” has won five Oscars for rural and agricultural broadcasting.
Andrew is also the owner of McCrea Farms, keynote speaker for leadership training and author of five award-winning books on life and leadership. Andrew is an expert in the field of communications media, interpersonal motivation and environmental team building. He loves communicating and building up people and their communities through storytelling.
Keep reading to learn more as Cliff and Andrew discuss sharing the stories of rural America and people who turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. They also dive into the topic of how anyone has the ability to be the media, accountability in marketing and communications and influencer marketing in rural America.
Telling Extraordinary Stories
Andrew has a wealth of experience and knowledge when it comes to communication, listening, and sharing the stories of others. He feels that he learned from two of the greatest communicators, both of his grandfathers. Growing up working on the farm, Andrew remembers the values he learned from sitting on a pickup truck and visiting with them about life experiences.
Andrew has a unique gift of being able to uncover rich stories from America’s heartland and tell them in a creative, entertaining and educational way. When asked about some of his favorite interviews, Andrew responded, “I would say my most memorable interviews aren’t necessarily from anybody we consider famous. There’s this genre of people that grew up during World War II and they were soldiers or Holocaust survivors. Or they may have been women that were working in factories and helping make bombers. There are just some amazing interviews that I’ve had the opportunity to do and those have stuck with me, just hearing those experiences.”
“If I can find those folks that lived through major events like that, that’s just fascinating to me, especially the ones that you’ve never heard of. We know the big names, but there’s lots of other unknown names that made the big names possible,” Andrew continued. “It’s nice to be able to sit down with them and help them share that experience with a broader audience.”
Storytelling has been a part of how brands communicate with their audiences for a long time. Brands that do it well are able to effectively engage their audience through the elements of a story. Storytelling is effective because as humans, that’s how we learn. Great storytelling often includes a hero, a conflict and a resolution. Learn more about storytelling in the OUTthink article The Power of Using Stories to Tell and Sell.
When asked about where the concept of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary came from, Andrew responded, “The idea came from the fact that we were interviewing people that, for the most part, were folks that no one had ever heard of. But the stories that we were building were stories that you’ll never forget. I was struck by the fact that many of the people that I was interviewing, I didn’t know before or very well, but they were making a profound impact, not only in their life and those around them, but perhaps in a broader area. Our broadcasts were finding people that were doing that every day.”
We hear story after story of great people doing great things all across the nation in rural America. There’s a similar set of core values that influence how rural American folks live, work and create a positive impact in the lives of others. There are countless stories to tell, and Andrew McCrea is one of the best storytellers in the business.
Being the Media
Andrew began his career in the broadcasting business with an internship for Brownfield Network. “I tell college students all the time that when I began, I needed satellite time to put this broadcast up there,” said Andrew. “Now anybody that has an internet connection and a few dollars for equipment can put a podcast out there.”
Today, there is a unique opportunity available for anyone to be the media, whether that’s through a podcast, blog, website content, creative email program or other form of owned media. Social media platforms are great for getting messages out there, but ultimately those platforms are in control of who is able to see your content and your messaging. When you own the media, you are in control.
But with that control, also comes a level of responsibility. Andrew touches on this topic by saying, “You need to be accountable for what you share; especially if you’re going to be in the industry of communication for journalism and marketing, that is so critical. Anybody can jump in. It’s not just anybody that’s going to stand behind the words. If you’re a person willing to stand behind your words and your work, and do the work of good journalism, good marketing, good communication, in my mind, that’s even more valuable today, because perhaps it’s become more rare.”
Cliff follows up this point by adding, “Anybody can be the media. And right now, there’s a lot of media that for one reason or another cannot be trusted. So there’s a real opportunity for people to be sincere and trustworthy and tell their story and the story of their company. The media is very powerful. There’s a real opportunity right now for anybody to be the media. It’s an amazing situation that we’re in.”
The Impact of Influencer Marketing
Even though companies are able to reach people easily, quickly and efficiently today through platforms like email and social media, influencer marketing and word of mouth is still a key component of marketing because that’s where people’s minds go when they’re considering purchasing a product or service. “I think still, the number one way is that we often ask our friends or the people we know about what their experiences are with this product or this service or this person and so forth,” says Andrew. Cliff follows up Andrew’s point by saying, “I agree with you, influencer marketing has become so powerful. A referral from a family member or friend is the most powerful of all.”
Rural America has so many opportunities and so many great stories to tell. With today’s technology, people are able to connect from almost anywhere. People from rural and urban areas are able to hear and see the extraordinary stories in agriculture and rural America.
Gain more insight from Cliff and Andrew and learn more about the vast opportunities in rural America today in this episode of OUTdrive. Check it out!