If you thought consumer marketing in fresh produce was a challenge, try getting everyone in the industry on the same page with public relations. As fresh produce publicists (yes, that’s exactly what we are), we are tasked with not only trying to garner coverage for fruits and vegetables, but also with elevating PR success for the brands we represent.
It’s not enough to just get a media placement on a top-tier consumer website or in a national magazine. You need to be able to utilize and explain your efforts AND wins to your team to prove the value of public relations in the fresh produce industry.
Here are a few tips and insights we’ve gained from our experience with fresh produce and public relations:
Winning with PR for Fresh Produce
First & Foremost: Be prepared and set clear expectations for your team
Before you begin outreach to the media, it is crucial to make sure your team is on board with your strategy. This includes key messaging, company information willing to be shared, clear expectations for goals/outcomes, interviews and more. Not only does this ensure readiness for when an editor shows interest in your brand, but it also tees up your team with what to expect from public relations altogether.
On a more serious note, as publicists we understand the anxiety around opening the door for an outsider who has such an impact on publicity. In the fresh produce industry, this skepticism can be much bigger due to past experiences (romaine recalls and widespread panic, anyone?) when media comes in and promotes negative news without warning, or even adequate discretion at times. That being said, it is important to work together to ensure the team is comfortable with the proposed direction.
Congrats! You have interest from an editor. Now what?
There is no better feeling than seeing a response from an editor for one of your pitches. Honestly, this portion can be the most challenging part of PR. So once you’ve connected an editor and they are interested in what your brand has to say, get excited! More importantly, get your whole team involved and excited about the opportunity.
As we mentioned before, consumer-facing PR in fresh produce is still in its infancy in this current era of media and might be uncharted territory for some. Emphasizing the success around landing an interview—or even receiving a sample request from a publication—is crucial to getting the stakeholders more on board with consumer media. It is also important to let your team know that they are not alone in this. Furthermore, always ensure they are prepared for any interviews that come your way.
Kudos! You garnered coverage for the brand. Now what?
I retract my previous statement: for me, there is truly no better feeling than sending through a placement email to a happy client who can then elevate that win for the whole brand! That interest you received from the multiple pitches and follow-ups has finally paid off. Whether it’s an online placement or feature spread in a print magazine, be sure to share that success with the world. As you share the news of the placement with your client, recommend that they share it as well—from social to the website and even newsletters, share it everywhere.
This placement not only proves that your brand is trusted by the media, but it also can garner interest from consumers themselves to learn more about your brand—and hopefully even purchase the product to give it a try themselves.
Disclaimer: Sometimes with print placements, there are licensing fees associated with sharing print placements on social media. Be cognizant of this as you plan content around placements, and when in doubt, always ask the publication.
Success! You have a budding relationship with an editor or publication. Now what?
Through the extensive follow-up and multiple sample sends, you’re now in a long-distance relationship with an editor (only half-kidding here). This step of the process is the gateway into more placements and opportunities for your brand, so be sure to nurture it. This can be accomplished in many ways. From casual “just checking in” emails to surprising your favorite editor with a media mailer, these steps are crucial for keeping the communication line open for future editorial opportunities.
Encourage your team to use these relationship to elevate your brand and entire strategy to retail and foodservice customers. These efforts not only build brand recognition but also trust amongst shoppers—which is crucial for sales.