Member Profile: Aaron Putze, APR

Tell us a little about yourself. 

Raised on a farm near West Bend, Iowa (home of the Grotto of the Redemption and Butter Braid Bread!), UNI grad and 26-year veteran of the ag communications profession. I like to stay in motion – enjoy learning, asking questions, writing, speaking and spending time outdoors. Faith, family and farming are my three-legged stool. I love Iowa (96% of its land is devoted to agriculture, the most of any state), its rhythm, people, communities and traditions. Relish hard work and effort. Admire those who have ideas, go the extra mile and treat others with respect. My wife Crystal and our children Garrett, Grant and Jaelyn live in Waukee.

Walk us through your career path so far. 

Growing up on a crop and livestock farm left an indelible impression on me. It’s a risky endeavor that requires patience, ingenuity, hard work and a lot of faith. It’s also the only profession where one buys retail, sells wholesale and pays the freight both ways. I admire the skill, expertise and dedication of farmers and respect all they do, given the multitude of challenges inherent in producing food, fiber and fuel. 

At UNI, I served as editor of the Northern Iowan (coolest job ever!) and student government vice president (not the coolest job ever!). Both experiences helped me land an internship with the City of Cedar Falls my senior year and, upon graduation, a copy editor position with a publishing company in Grundy Center. That led to 16 incredible years with the Iowa Farm Bureau communications team. 

Last November, I celebrated 10 years with the Iowa Soybean Association, serving as Sr. Dir. of Information & Education. After 26 years in the profession, I’m continually amazed by what farmers do and the issues interwoven with the profession, from trade, climate and currency values to energy, transportation, conservation and technology. If you thrive in issues management, then agriculture is the ideal profession! 

You’ve written two books, in addition to your career in public relations. What inspired you to become an author? 

I met Chuck Long in December 2014 at a reception celebrating his hire as executive director of the Iowa Sports Foundation. During a brief conversation, I asked why he didn’t have a book chronicling his storied career as QB for Coach Hayden Fry and the Iowa Hawkeyes. It was really an off-the-wall question and to this day, I’m not quite sure why I asked it. Chalk it up to fate, I guess, because six months later, I was in front of my computer interviewing some amazing people and surrounded by stacks of newspaper clippings researching and documenting his amazing life–from being a “take-a-chance” recruit by Hayden in ’81 to setting every passing record for Iowa by ‘85, taking snaps in a record five college bowl games, finishing runner-up to Bo Jackson for the Heisman and being selected in the 1st Round of the ’86 NFL Draft. Chuck’s biography “Destined for Greatness” was published in November 2017, followed by a companion book on leadership titled “YOU Are Destined for Greatness” published in May 2019. The latter features conversations with 27 inspiring individuals with Iowa roots representing all walks of life. Their stories have led to speaking and coaching opportunities focused on leadership, living with purpose and setting and achieving goals. Being our best self is an incredible journey.   

Both of your books are focused on stories of Iowa legends and leaders. Why do you think sharing those stories is important? 

I’ve always been curious, so naturally I love asking questions! And asking the right questions at the right time has opened countless doors and the opportunity to develop relationships with incredible people. I’m especially intrigued by achievers. What separates successful people, businesses, associations and organizations from those that aren’t? What’s the secret sauce… the differential? Is it luck? Resources? Good fortune? What I’ve discovered is that there’s nothing magical about success. Achievers persevere, maintain positivity, sharpen their skills, celebrate every win, don’t quit, commit and nurture relationships. I’m a work in progress, so continually focusing on these attributes helps me be a better person. 

What lessons have you learned during the writing process that have helped you grow as a public relations professional? 

That research, writing and editing a book are easy; then there’s the business, marketing, sales and fulfillment side of the project that is just (if not more) important. All of the essentials needed to successfully author, publish and market a book are key to being a solid team leader and taking responsibility for management activities inherent in the public relations profession. Being an author hones your ability to ask questions, engage with people who have a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, follow through on commitments and meet deadlines. 

What advice do you have for other communications professionals? 

Spend time with people who inspire. Ask questions. Be known for ideas, not excuses. Write. Then write some more. Join a civic organization. Get to know achievers and people who are going places and making a difference -- how they think and do, what motivates them and how they spend their time getting better. Use time wisely. Never hesitate to raise your hand and take on new assignments or opportunities, especially those that require extra effort. Effort and opportunity are always on a collision course. 


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