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Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Educators Accessibility to Resources and Training Regarding Communications And Marketing: a Needs Assessment

Erichsen, Amanda R.

The purpose of this study is to determine the perceptions of Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service (OCES) educators regarding their communications and marketing efforts, training needs, and resources. Through a quantitative survey administered at a statewide conference in January 2008, OCES educators shared how often and how well they use specific media, how they prefer to deliver information to clientele, where they learned mass communication skills, and what communications training they desired. According to andragogy theory, adults will accept and implement a new marketing/communications plan better if they are part of the planning process. Data were gathered and analyzed using descriptive statistics. The survey response rate was 60.78%. Educators are "satisfied" with the time they devote to their job. "Increasing capacity to reach new and diverse audiences" is the greatest challenge as an OCES educator. OCES educators spend 15.13 hours per month marketing and communicating. They focus a majority of that time on youth and adult residents. OCES educators perceive media relations, article placement, and direct mail as effective county programming efforts. OCES educators have access to a newspaper publisher in town, a radio station in town, a television station in a non-adjacent county, and a multi-media agency in town. Educators perceive their highest skills in communications and marketing are writing a story for a newspaper, developing an Extension flier or newsletter, or communicating via e-mail. Educators indicated they have most of their training through on-the-job experience. The five areas selected by educators for more training were Web site maintenance, creating electronic media, writing for a newspaper story, writing or editing an Extension flier or newsletter, and using electronic media. A moderate positive relationship exists between educators' skill rating of using and maintaining Web sites and their year of birth.