It’s something you’ve likely heard before and something I often preach; as a keynote speaker, writer, online influencer and more for agriculture.
Back in December, I spoke at the Nation Agriculture Aviation Association (NAAA) national conference in Knoxville. I was scheduled to be the keynote Tuesday morning and had a direct flight booked from Orlando to Knoxville Sunday night on Frontier Airlines to get there. The flight was delayed, delayed, and – you guessed it – canceled.
Frontier Airlines wasn’t very helpful and have done away with their customer service phone number! How crazy is that? They sent us all to an insanely long “customer service” line full of hundreds of frustrated passengers, where we learned the next flight out wasn’t for another 48 hours later! (Tuesday night.)
Well, that wasn’t going to work. I had to get there to speak at the conference! So, I went to the front of the line and politely suggested: why not just put us on a bus or in a van to get to Knoxville? It’s only 10-12 hours, and we could wake up there! Delta Airlines had taken me by shuttle once to another airport when a similar situation occurred.
“Well, we aren’t Delta Airlines,” she said smugly. “We have to wait for a supervisor.”
The supervisor never showed up. Many people couldn’t wait those TWO DAYS to get to where they needed to be, and you could see the tension run thick through the customer crowd. When I made the suggestion, fellow passenger Amy Sadd overheard me, thought it was a good idea, and yelled to the crowd, “OKAY, HERE’S THE DEAL! Some of us are talking about renting a bus or van. Meet us over here in the corner if you’re serious about joining!”
About a dozen people showed up, and we all started brainstorming. Other flight options were challenging, expensive and inconvenient. We ended up walking down to the rental car area as a group where passenger Carlos Cordero found us a 15-passenger van. For about $60 a person, he and Amy offered to drive us there as we all split the van cost.
Fellow passenger Alanah Story documented our journey on TikTok, and we started driving. 13 people, and the luggage fit perfectly! As we continued driving the 652-mile drive to Knoxville, we watched her TikTok video go viral in real time! People were creating plots, cracking jokes, and picking their favorite characters or “spirit animals.” Everyone in the comments could relate to at least one of us in that van, even though we were all very different – we got along great!
Our three-part video series has gone viral – with approximately six million views, over one million “likes,” and over 20,000 comments on Alanah’s TikTok videos – not to mention my channels and the mainstream media’s channels.
Which mainstream media, you might ask? We ended up going so viral; the story has been heard around the world. From major TV and radio outlets in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, Spain, the UK, and more… our schedules have been PACKED with interviews. We’ve been featured in People magazine, the Today Show, Inside Edition, the Jennifer Hudson Show, Daily Blast LIVE, NewsNation, Bored Panda, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, the Washington Post, Southern Living, and more. Major movie and TV show producers in NYC and Hollywood are even reaching out to us to turn it into a movie, possibly!
With every interview, I talk about farming as much as I can. What is the “Farm Babe?” What was I doing in Knoxville? Well, sharing the story of NAAA, of course! And a great conference opportunity to encourage farmers and Ag professionals to tell their stories! This is a perfect example of amplifying the message of agriculture across mainstream Hollywood media and the people who need to hear our message the most.
We can’t believe it! I never thought it would blow up like this, but the internet can be weird. It shows that you never know what could go viral and that people are craving good news. We just wanted to help one another; we all wanted to laugh and find friendships, and it looked like this story had a happy ending with friendships to last a lifetime.
Social media works. It could happen to you too. Speak up! Speak out! Advocate for yourselves and celebrate all the good news of what we do in this amazing industry every day. You never know what opportunities could come of it and how it can further “propel” our industry forward.