ZimmComm Celebrates 20th Anniversary

ZimmComm is celebrating 20 years of serving the agricultural business, marketing, and media industries in 2024.

The company was founded in 2004 by former farm broadcasters Chuck and Cindy Zimmerman with the idea of helping agribusinesses and organizations reach media outlets with their message in a new way.

“What is now social media was called ‘new media’ at the time,” said Chuck Zimmerman. “The idea of using the internet for communications was just starting with blogs and podcasts.”

First, ZimmComm created AgWired as an on-line publication for news and information from the world of agribusiness. It was the first blog targeted to agriculture, and still is a blog, which was a new term at the time that meant “web log” – a simple website that allowed users to post new messages in a chronological format. “We became agribloggers,” said Zimmerman, who adopted that name as his Twitter handle (@AgriBlogger) when the platform, now known as X, was launched in 2006.

ZimmComm started the first agriculture-focused podcast in early 2005 and coined the term “farm podcasting” with the ZimmCast, which continues to include interviews from around the agribusiness world.

ZimmComm developed “Talking News Releases” as one of its first services in 2005, creating AgNewsWire.com for posting and sharing content with audio, in addition to direct distribution by email. “As former farm broadcasters, we recognized the importance of having sound bites for stories,” Cindy said. “We wanted to make it easier for both the newsmakers and the news reporters to get quality audio without having to set up interviews.”

The first blog dedicated to the U.S. biofuels industry was developed by ZimmComm in September 2005, just one month after the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) was signed into law. Called DomesticFuel.com at the time, Energy.AgWired continues to work with the industry and includes the Ethanol Report podcast, sponsored by the Renewable Fuels Association since 2008. Both the ethanol and biodiesel industry were early adopters of new media.

Also in 2005, ZimmComm began to do what they called “event blogging” which included on-site interviews and photos at industry events that were posted on the blogs and sent to media. The ZimmComm Golden Microphone has become well known at events around the world.

Since joining Flickr in 2005, ZimmComm has created the industry’s largest digital collection of photos from agricultural events with over 217,000 images in over 250 albums which have been viewed more than 36 million times. Collections include more than 15 years of events such as Commodity Classic, Ag Media Summit, Cattle Industry Conference (now CattleCon), National Agri-Marketing Conference, National Biodiesel/Clean Fuels Conference, National Ethanol Conference, and many more.

The amount of audio produced and posted on ZimmComm websites includes over 6,500 files since 2015 on Libsyn and an estimated 7,000 more on the company server from prior years. “That’s everything from interviews and presentations to speeches and seminars,” said Chuck. “There is a lot of digital history in our archives.”

ZimmComm has become known for the Gold Microphone, which made its debut at the 2007 National Agri-Marketing Conference. “It was one of three mic screens included for our new Heil microphone,” said Chuck. “The choices were black, silver, or gold and we went with gold and it became our trademark.”

Hundreds of people around the country and the world have become card-carrying members of the “ZimmComm Golden Mic Club” since the Zimmerman’s started handing out membership cards in 2017. To celebrate the 20th anniversary, ZimmComm will be handing out Golden Mic Awards at the 2024 National Agri-Marketing Conference in Kansas City to some of the many industry members who have been interviewed over the years.