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Names in the News: Ken Nobis

Published on 22 August 2014

Names in the News

Ken Nobis is an active member of the Nobis Dairy Farms team, which milks 1,050 cows and farms 3,400 acres in Clinton County, Michigan. He is also the president of the Michigan Milk Producers Association.

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Nobis was quoted in a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article titled “America’s Got Milk and China Wants It.”

How did your interview with Bloomberg come about?
It was initiated by a call from the author requesting input from me.

Why did you consent to do the interview?
I agreed to the interview because many people don’t recognize the value of the dairy industry for the high-quality nutrition we supply consumers or the positive economic impact we add to the U.S. economy. Whatever small role I can play to inform the public of our industry is well worth my time.

You’ve been quoted by the media multiple times over the years, including the Wall Street Journal and NBC. How did you get to be a go-to source for the media?
Characterizing me as a go-to person is probably an exaggeration, but I am open, fair and honest in the answers I give to interviewers. I do try to tell more of the story than just answer their specific question, thereby providing a broader perspective to the interviewer, who more often than not doesn’t know a lot about our business.

What are the pros and cons to doing media interviews?
I don’t think there is a downside to conducting interviews. As long as you have done your homework, know your subject, speak professionally and don’t make flippant comments, you are providing a positive image for dairy producers.

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Do you get nervous when you do interviews, especially for widely read publications? What do you do to prepare?
I learned a very valuable lesson when I took a business and professional speech course in college. When I was prepared for class, speaking before the class was a whole lot less nerve-wracking than when I tried to wing it. If they throw me a question out of my area of expertise, I’m not afraid to tell them so, and I’ve always found they respect you for your honesty.

ken nobis

Did the Bloomberg reporter ask you any questions you weren’t expecting?
The Bloomberg reporter was a very good interviewer and we talked on the phone four times, I think, before the article was published. He was gathering background information on dairy exports, so the questions were wide-ranging but nothing that surprised me.

What was the most difficult question you had to answer? Why?
The hardest question for me is when I’m asked about the future. In this case, “Will export growth continue to grow for MMPA and the U.S. dairy industry?” So you answer the question with the usual caveats about the global economic growth remaining positive and that we expect positive growth for our industry.

Were you satisfied with the piece that they produced? If not, how could you have influenced it otherwise? Any questions you thought they should have asked?
I was satisfied with the piece published by Bloomberg. The article accurately reflected our view of dairy exports.

Have you made any new connections or had any interesting experiences as a result of the story running?
I am now connected with Progressive Dairyman as a result of the article, and I have had several non-ag people comment that they had read the piece.

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Overall, was it worthwhile to do the Bloomberg interview?
The article reflects a positive outcome, so it was definitely worth doing.

What advice would you have for other dairy producers who may be doing interviews?
If you are doing interviews with the press – or anybody for that matter – be prepared, be honest, be professional and if you don’t know the answer to a question, say so.PD

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