The Booze Bin

How to Win a Silver Anvil (while Holding a Glass of Wine)

Shh there's wine in hereI have a confession to make. After more than a decade in booze PR, I have never attended a PRSA conference. I KNOW. It is so crazy, it’s Italian television crazy. But allow me to redeem myself.

I have helped to write, edit and submit more PR award entries than I care to remember. Ok, they were submitted at 11:59pm on the late entry date north of 99% of the time. But that’s not the point. The point is, I have been fortunate enough to learn from some of the best in the industry (I’m looking at you, Patrice Tanaka), and whipped, kicking and screaming, into PR award shape.

With the annual PRSA International Conference in DC only a few days away, I am working feverishly with the (ahem, no big deal) SILVER ANVIL award-winning Rioja team to prep our PRSA session, “Pairing Rioja Wine Producers with the U.S. Market.” Truly a team effort, this winning entry was led by the Rioja Trade Campaign Manager, Lauren Ray, assisted by Pablo Olay (Campaign Director), Rebekah Polster (Media Team Supervisor), Daniel Walsh (Trade Team Consultant) and the PR award…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

From Social to Supermarket: Don’t Miss the Link

Campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge render social media’s ability to build awareness and change attitudes unquestioned. But what about its ability to drive consumers into stores and impact actual sales?

As agency of record for many food and beverage products, we’re faced with this question every day. And, while there are still some limitations in tracking specific purchases resulting from specific social media posts, research endorsed by Vision Critical, Harvard Business Review, Integer Group and others indicates that food-related social media activities do in fact forecast future purchases.

So, the question to food marketers then becomes, are you taking full advantage?

Social-to-Sale Food Purchasing

An in-depth study fielded by Vision Critical revealed social media engagement to be a frequent predictor of purchases:

1. 4 in 10 social media users report having purchased an item after sharing or favoriting it on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest

2. Those purchases reportedly took place just as often in-store as online

3. Food is among the top categories for social to sale purchasing

Pinterest graphic

Along the same lines, Integer Group research found the social web is a grocery shopping tool for 1…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

Pumpkin Panic: Marketing Ourselves into a Corner

This is not a post about Pumpkin Spice Latte.

pumpkinIf I were to judge by one of the predominant memes on social media, one might think that the main food-related conversation around the arrival of the fall season is that spicy, syrupy, coffee-ish beverage at your corner Starbucks. I’m not personally a fan of the drink, but thinking about that omnipresent concoction of cinnamon and cloves was a jumping-off point for my musings on this first Friday of autumn.

Pumpkin – or at least the sensory experience that we associate with “pumpkin” – is such a psychological marker of this time of year. Retailers leverage that fact with orange merchandise displays to give us visual cues, and food companies leverage it with the release of limited-time products such as Oreos to fill our mouths and social lives with pumpkin-y warmth. More than just utilizing a seasonal fruit (it’s botanically a BERRY – who knew?), the product development and marketing efforts are very probably meant to evoke a connection to cozy memories of family, friends, comfort and love. According to food historians, pumpkin pie is truly one of the most authentic…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

3 Forthcoming Food Trends You Need to Know About

From raw to paleo to simple clean eating, consumers everywhere are becoming increasingly interested in their health and nutrition. Even chefs stand witness to consumers requesting lighter and healthier menu options.

The magnitude of this food movement couldn’t be more evident than on the annual U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC) Blueberry Boot Camp held at The Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone Campus in Helena, Calif. USHBC invited 16 innovative chefs from top restaurants, hotels, colleges and corporations to experiment with blueberries firsthand in the state-of-the-art CIA kitchen.

So, what did they come up with? A true smorgasbord! Oyster mignonette with blueberry vinegar, blueberry falafel and flank steak with blueberry chimichurri just to name a few.

In addition to their time in the kitchen, the three-day event was an opportunity for chefs to study the health benefits of blueberries. After many discussions and countless taste tests, one thing is clear: healthy must be tasty. It is true, consumers are certainly interested in eating healthier, but raw seaweed just won’t do it. Today, leading chefs are aware that their challenge lies in finding the point at which delicious and nutritious coexist.

After attending the 2013 Blueberry Boot Camp, one chef in particular…

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The Booze Bin

How To Enjoy Craft Cider – Infographic

In our last blog post about craft cider, we shed light on the basics (Craft Cider 101). This fall, I challenge you to look over the rim of your tasting glass and experiment with artisan hard cider in cocktails and at dinner parties. For inspiration, visit one of fall’s many cider events, like Cider Week Virginia and New York.

As versatile as wine and beer, craft cider can hold its own on tasting menus and in cocktail glasses – shaken or stirred. Even better: Cider bars across the country are finally becoming a staple of America’s drink culture.

Here’s how and where to enjoy craft cider this season! Cheers.


Download the full infographic here.  

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

Keep it Simple (Stupido)

With Labor Day weekend quickly approaching, hundreds of thousands of people (including me) will be entertaining friends and family and stressing over what to make. This got me thinking of our approach as Americans to food in general, and our tendency to over-complicate things that should be fairly simple. What’s more is we often look at holidays and long weekends as an opportunity to stuff our faces and eat whatever we want.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Italy a couple times over the past few years, but it has really changed the way I think about food and how different we are from Europeans in general. While Americans take 15 minutes to dine “al desko” at work, Europeans enjoy long, luxurious meals that can last for hours. Italians have a flair for creating memorable food with the simplest, and in many cases, peasant ingredients. From a simple grilled piece of fish with lemon and olive oil to a classic Caprese salad, Italian cuisine, while not traditionally looked at as “nutritious,” uses simple, high-quality ingredients that go a long way. While many may think of wine, pasta and cheese as the mainstay of many Italian diets, one never sees very…

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How NOT to Get Lost In A Sea of Acronyms

Cartoonstock.comThere are nearly 100,000 trade associations operating in the U.S. today (per NPR), and in a marketplace as crowded as this one, it’s all too easy for your organization’s true purpose to get lost in a sea of acronyms. But groups like the American Physical Therapy Association, National Association of Broadcasters and National Restaurant Association prove how associations can use the principles of branding to bolster their relevance, nurture their relationships with members and other stakeholders, and reconnect with their central purpose.

Here are a few anecdotes:

Know Your Audience, Inside and Out

Before you can strengthen your association’s image, you must explore the issues and trends impacting your members, how those factors influence their perceptions and behaviors, and how they influence the perceptions and behaviors of their stakeholders. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) set a good example of this when it engaged PadillaCRT in the development of its “Move Forward” campaign.

Research among consumers, physicians, health care professionals, insurers and APTA members revealed that while physical therapists were viewed very positively, consumers had a narrow definition of their capabilities and were more likely to access a physical…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

(Mis)Perception on a Plate: 5 Formerly Vilified Foods

Those of us in PR who represent food, nutrition and health products are often re-explaining and redefining our consumables based on evolving science. While other industries such as consumer electronics definitely have lots of technical updates to communicate to passionate publics, people tend to have a special level of concern about a product they actually swallow and put into their bodies. Is it wholesome and nutritious? Will it keep me from getting a disease, or will it cause unwanted side effects? The answers to those questions can change over time as researchers conduct more studies, and foods we once gulped down can sometime fall out of favor while other foods we once shunned can become desirable. It’s challenging for marketing communicators to ensure the public keeps up with the facts.

Here’s a glimpse at five foods whose confusing stories have clarified over time and taken them from “avoid” status to mass consumption:

killer tomatoesTomatoes. This is perhaps one of the more dramatic supermarket turnaround stories. While today tomatoes are our country’s fourth-most popular fresh-market vegetable (actually, a fruit) behind potatoes, lettuce and onions, they were once thought to be deadly toxic.…

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Tackling Childhood Obesity – What’s Working and What’s Not

kids running

It’s been a week of highs and lows for children’s health advocates.  A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than three-quarters of U.S. children eat fruit on any given day, and nearly 92 percent dig into vegetables in a 24-hour period.  As a mom of two boys, I find this to be a pleasant surprise.  But, it’s not all sunshine and roses.  Another CDC study uncovered that youth fitness has declined by about 10 percent since 2004, and is significantly below what it should be.

Gordon Blackburn, director of cardiac rehabilitation at the Cleveland Clinic put the research into context, “Thirty years ago, we would not have expected to see 12-year-olds with symptoms of cardiac disease.  Now we’ve had to start a pediatric preventive cardiology clinic.”

There has been a concerted effort through a variety of campaigns to move the needle on kids’ health and fitness.  In 1991, the “5 a Day” (now “Fruits and Veggies – More Matters”) campaign was created to increase fruit and vegetable consumption for better health.  In 2007, the campaign shifted to target Gen X moms with a digital effort focused on recipes,…

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The Booze Bin

4 Ways to Enjoy National American Beer Month

July is National American Beer Month and what’s more American than inventing new ways to enjoy beer! These are my top four ways to enjoy one of America’s favorite beverages.

DraftServ beer machine

1. Self-serve beer stations. Yesterday at the All-Star game in my hometown of Minneapolis, Major League Baseball fans at Target Field could pour their own beer (up to 48 ounces) using machines, called DraftServ, a partnership between concessionaire Delaware North and Anheuser-Busch. The machines still used attendants to ensure fans didn’t over-serve themselves.

2. Beat the heat with beer and fruit pairings. Cool down this summer by combining: juicy fruit and cold beer. Fancy a popsicle with a little hop? Quench your thirst with recipes such as: Petit Saison & Raspberry Beersicles or Frozen Beer Soaked Watermelonsicles made with one of my favorite summer seasonal brews Hell or High Watermelon by 21st Amendment brewery.

3. Reserve your spot for a new home brew system. Synek is a crowdsourced personal beer dispenser. Similar to a keg, the Synek uses cartridges that are pressurized with CO2. The chamber of the dispenser is not pressurized, which allows you to interchange the…

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