“It’s time to head to hair and makeup,” said the assistant at the FOX News TV station in Washington, D.C. She briskly led me to a ready room of every girl’s dreams. With an expert hand, the makeup artist quickly covered every trace of jetlag; in seconds, my hair was shining and my face glowing. I asked if she would come back to South Dakota with me.

She chuckled and said “It’s time for you to go to the green room.”

I was rushed to a small room, where a tech crew immediately outfitted me with a microphone and headset. They told me I would be live in 30 seconds.

I was about to be interviewed by host Jonathon Hunt. Along with Jess Peterson, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association executive vice president, I was there to talk about the importance of broadband in rural America – a topic I’m passionate about.

Of course, I worried about whether I was ready for this, but there was no doubt this was a great opportunity to highlight the successful ranch families in rural America.

I’m both a rancher and journalist. Our ranch is 20 miles from the nearest service tower; on windy days, I generally lose my Internet connection. Since my BEEF Daily newsletter must be delivered, no matter the weather, it often means rushing to town to a coffee shop to finish the job.

But, a trusted source of Internet is important to rural communities and ranching families. Most of us rely on the Internet to check the weather, markets and prices. A solid connection is critical in ensuring that rural communities are self-sustaining, repopulating and thriving.

That was a lot to convey in 30 seconds of interview time, and I was asked only two questions. With my 30 seconds of fame over, I left FOX, a little bedazzled by the whole experience, but with no regrets. You can watch the interview here.

How many times have we interacted with a consumer or been interviewed by the local newspaper about our way of life and left wishing we’d phrased things differently?

Last fall, I had the opportunity to listen to Jodie Beach, a professional etiquette coach, who offered some tips on how to make a positive impression in a few short minutes. I not only applied her advice to my interview with FOX, but I utilize her tips when interacting with consumers in person and online. Here are a few of her best tips.

• People do business with people they like. Have a solid handshake, make eye contact and smile confidently.

• When interacting with someone outside of agriculture, it can be difficult to make common connections. Perfect the art of chitchat to find a middle ground on topics that are important to you.

• Thank you notes are the three-minute miracle. They don’t have to be long, but they must be personal. Email doesn’t cut it.

I apply this last tip when meeting consumers. When traveling, I exchange business cards with consumers I meet. When I get home, I send out notes encouraging them to call or email if they ever have questions about beef.

On a recent trip, I met someone from New York City who had never met a rancher before. He’s kept in touch, asking questions about beef articles he reads in the news. This is “agvocacy” in action and it works!

Whether it’s an interview with the media or a conversation with a consumer, it’s important to be prepared. Equip yourself with beef facts, which you can find at www.explorebeef.org; and learn to hone your message through the checkoff’s Masters of Beef Advocacy program.

With science-backed reasoning to back our personal stories, the truth is on our side. Are you ready to make your 30 seconds count?  ❚❚

Amanda Radke is a South Dakota rancher and editor of BEEF Daily. Follow her daily posts at beefmagazine.com.