A multi-dimensional publicity effort, funded through the $1-per-head Beef Checkoff Program to give beef more visibility with consumers through the holidays is hitting the home stretch. The program has generated significant attention for preparing and serving beef while entertaining and at family gatherings. In fact, since Oct. 1, nearly 900 million consumer impressions have been generated through the checkoff's food communications program.
Preparation for the publicity, however, began in March, according to Mary Bartz, who manages food communications programs for the Beef Checkoff Program. “These efforts help strengthen beef’s position as the protein of choice among consumers. The grocery shopping tips, cooking guidelines and recipes developed through the years are highly regarded by both culinary media and consumers.”
Among recent successes of the food communications program is a holiday editorial color page, Season’s Eatings, distributed through a syndication service to newspapers nationwide. To date, the effort has reached more than 19 million readers via print and online placement. It featured three recipes, with accompanying photographs: beef tenderloin steaks, a tri-tip roast and beef bourguignonne made from beef chuck shoulder pot roast.
Since national magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens, Bon Appetit and Everyday with Rachael Ray prepare their holiday editions six months ahead of printing, beef checkoff representatives approached editors with beef story ideas, recipes and cooking tips long ago. A holiday media outreach effort highlighting three lean-beef recipes was disseminated to magazine and newspaper food editors, and to online bloggers. As a result, several media outlets featured beef as the centerpiece entrée for holiday entertaining.
For instance, an article titled, “A Cut Above” in the December 2008 Family Circle magazine carried background information from the checkoff, and this month’s Saveur magazine carried checkoff-funded information about tenderloin roasts. The October 2008 issue of Gourmet magazine showcased a standing rib roast photo on the front cover, with a major story titled “Butchers’ Secrets.” Checkoff managers worked closely with the writer to ensure all details regarding the selected cuts were properly represented.
“The recipes, photographs and beef cooking resources we provide are just one piece of a comprehensive program to reach food editors and influencers,” Bartz said. “We have worked hard to establish the beef checkoff's culinary center as the resource for beef and veal information, connecting beef experts to magazine and newspaper food journalists, culinary professionals -- and directly to consumers online.”
Internet a Key
Online recipe and information searches have become critical to the checkoff's food communications program. “The program regularly disseminates beef cookery tips, recipes and images to the leading food and cooking blogs,” Bartz says. “Thanks to the beef checkoff, beef recently obtained a three-part placement on one of the most popular cooking blog sites, www.thekitchn.com. Chef Dave Zino, executive director of the checkoff's Beef and Veal Culinary Center in Chicago, was guest author. Each posting included photos and information about braising, encouraging visitors to experiment with this cooking method.
In addition, more than 42,000 subscribers to the weekly checkoff-funded consumer e-newsletter, Beef So Simple, have received recipes and cooking suggestions for celebrating the holidays with beef. The newsletter serves as a dependable beef cooking resource for beef lovers, giving them direct access to recipes, shopping tips, preparation and cooking guidance, including the checkoff's www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.
In fact, Bartz says the Web site has become a key point of contact with consumers throughout the country who are looking for more about beef – be it information or inspiration. The site recently was redesigned to create an interactive online experience.. Consumers can easily locate the recipes they need, while food reporters are directed to the newsroom to obtain news, story ideas, recipes and images, as well as helpful tips and charts to pass along to readers. The “Celebrate with Beef” section provides visitors special ways to create memorable holiday gatherings featuring beef.
“Beef producers can be proud that their checkoff dollars contribute to a carefully orchestrated plan that works to keep beef at the center of holiday celebrations,” says Bartz. “These efforts help maximize visibility of beef during the holidays. At the same time, we are strengthening relationships with consumers and food writers that will keep them coming back to our beef resources for years to come.”