May Member Profile: Kelly Visser

Kelly Visser is the consumer engagement manager for Iowa Soybean Association. In this role, she leads the Iowa Food & Family Project – an initiative that brings together farmers and consumers for a welcoming and relevant conversation about modern agriculture. She develops the initiative’s public relations strategy, including campaigns, partnerships, content and events.

Kelly graduated from Iowa State University in 2014 with degrees in biology and journalism, focusing on science communication. Prior to working at ISA, she held public relations and content writing roles at Kemin Industries. Kelly is a West Des Moines native and enjoys trying new restaurants, working on home improvement projects and spending time with her husband and dog.

Do you have a specific morning routine or ritual to set your tone for the day?

I’m a creature of habit in the mornings! About five minutes before my alarm goes off, I’m startled by a cold, wet nose being shoved into my face – a daily “touchpoint” my pup seems to enjoy more than I do. On my 20-minute drive to work I listen to “The Daily” podcast created by The New York Times, while enjoying a travel mug of coffee and blueberry Belvita bar. Once in the office, I spend the first 30 minutes knocking out easy email requests and writing my goals for the day.

What initially got you interested in public relations or communications?

While in the depths of a Bessey Hall biology lab at ISU, I realized my lab mates were jazzed about our research, but very few friends beyond the lab bench found the science relevant to their lives. Inspired to bridge the gap and help more people care about science led me to ISU’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communications to study the theory and practice of science communication. While science writing was my foundation leaving ISU, my curiosity and career path has allowed me to diversify across communication channels and audiences. My technical skills mixed with my original inspiration to “help people care” led me to the fantastic and ever-evolving world of public relations.

What is one of your new, favorite industry trends and why?

It’s not a new trend, but the power of partnership is one of my favorite aspects of public relations. Partnering with complementary organizations to allows me to stretch my creativity, move the Iowa Food & Family Project’s message further, build credibility and open new doors. I’ve quickly learned there’s no need to reinvent or compete when you can collaborate!

Who within our industry are you inspired by? And why?

I’m inspired by people who are relentlessly creative. Sometimes I get so laser-focused on what needs to be done, I forget to see alternative routes or miss opportunities to be playful and engaging. I’m thankful for the public relations professionals I work with every day (cough – Aaron Putze, APR, and Ann Thelen –- cough) who encourage me to put down the “to do” list, take a breath and exercise my creativity. 

What do you believe is your strength within the industry?

I am a details person. My meticulous nature helps me bring consistency to the Iowa Food & Family Project brand and ensures all pieces of our strategy work together seamlessly.

This skill set especially shines through during our in-person events with fans and followers. From pre-event communications and trip guides to gift bags and follow-up surveys, I go the extra mile with small details. I believe this helps participants feel comfortable, welcome, ready to learn and, ultimately, grows our network of brand ambassadors. 

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