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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The Booze Bin

How To Make Good Instagram Pics Great

If I had to sum up what great PR pros have in common, it boils down to this: attention to detail.  Especially in alcohol beverage marketing, we suffer from “eagle eye syndrome” and spot the smallest mistakes, from a missing suggested retail price on a fact sheet to the wrong vintage on a tasting mat.

Given our typical OC nature, why do we then throw this diligence to the wind when it comes to social media updates for our clients? The worst offenders seem to be based on Instagram. Sometimes, a picture doesn’t say a thousand words and you need to add context for your audience.

Booze Bin1

Here are my favorite free apps to make your Instagram pictures more powerful:


Instafood takes the guesswork out of food pics. What wine is that in the picture? Is this a meat or veggie casserole? This location-based food photo app lets you share what, when and where you ate in that photo. Elegant overlays allow you to share notes about the culinary experience with your audience.

Use It For: Wine and food pairing tips.


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Digital Marketing

From Slow Cocktails to Street Food: 4 Food Marketing Tips Learned at the World Cup

brazil1(image courtesy: BenyGalvao)

 I think spiders are soldiers of Satan, but even the threat of massive, wandering ones didn’t stop me from getting to Brazil this month to experience the World Cup.  Though my time there was short, between matches, I managed to dip a toe into the vibrant Salvadoran culture outside the stadium.

After feasting on steaming hot moquecas and African-inspired acarajé, I realized just how much of that region’s cuisine is built on shared experiences. So, today, I’ll do my best to share some of that experience with you, PR pros. Here are four food marketing lessons straight from Salvador and the World Cup:

What you see enhances what you get.

Squeezed into a tented bar in the middle of a rainstorm, I got an unobstructed view of all that went into my favorite Caipirinha of the trip: 10+ freshly squeezed limes, several scoops of cane sugar, a healthy pour of Cachaca and 20 minutes worth of diligent muddling. Seeing the degree of care that went into crafting that slow, delicious cocktail gave me confidence in my purchase, heightened my respect for the man making it,…

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Wine, Food & Nutrition

EU Food Producers Face Challenges and Opportunities in US Market

pic 1As the world slowly recovers from the economic crisis, Europe increasingly looks to export markets for its beloved food products. Their wines have been flowing through our ports for years, helping to make the U.S. the number one consumer of vino. Other foods such as cheese and salumi have faced more challenges including domestic competition, government regulations and a lower level of consumer knowledge for their artisan products.

pic 2Education is the key for these products. The DOP and PDO systems for geographical protection are still foreign to the majority of Americans. Advertising alone cannot solve this problem. Education marketing requires an integrated approach that reaches all audiences including distributors, retailers, chefs and the end consumer for success.

Realizing the need for impactful marketing campaigns the EU made recent changes that will provide new opportunities for producers and their regional associations. Increases in total funding and co-financing contributions, along with less red tape to deal with member states will make it easier for more producers to participate in marketing campaigns.

Over the years we have managed several successful EU campaigns, including one that…

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The Booze Bin

5 PR Basics, As Explained by Game of Thrones

What do Little Finger, Arya Stark, Tywin Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen and Joffrey Baratheon have in common? They all exemplify a certain trait every PR practitioner and “good” brand should have. While my examples are booze-related, the underlying principles are true for every industry. Keep reading even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan (although the real question is: Why aren’t you?).

1. Little Finger – Be Strategic

Winter is coming, folks. Only the well-prepared will prevail. When preparing for turbulent times (a bad harvest, a spokesperson gone rogue, etc.), it’s key to have a strategy. It’s ok to change course if the situation warrants, but in order to do so, you need to know your final destination. Most underdogs are also operating on a well thought-out strategy to gain respect and influence in their industry of choice. Little Finger clearly wants to marry a Stark girl and become king– two goals almost impossible without an elaborate plan.

Real Life Example: Virginia Wine wants to compete with the best of the best from Europe and California. A series of vintners is leading the way, backed up by a strong vision

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Are You Recall Ready?

Food Recall

A quick scan of FDA’s Recalls, Market Withdrawals, & Safety Alerts is enough to make you put down your lunch. While the majority of incidences tend to include undeclared ingredients, you do not need to look far to find multiple references to listeria, salmonella and E coli.

My colleague recently posted 5 Tips to prepare for a crisis, and while prevention is always the most important step you can take, how you handle a recall could make or break your brand. If not handled properly, you could at best experience a lack of consumer confidence and at worse face criminal prosecution from resulting deaths as families in the egg and cantaloupe industries recently discovered.

The FDA was granted authority for mandatory recalls under new rules in the Food Safety Modernization Act. However, this change was largely symbolic since the food industry traditionally honored voluntary recalls. This week the Center for Science in the Public Interest filed suit against USDA over their handling of salmonella in the meat supply. And as the GAO noted in 2012, communications of recalls does need to…

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The Booze Bin

The 7 Commandments of Producing a Memorable (and Flawless) Booze Event

New York City has the highest concentration of alcohol-related events in the U.S.  A local listing can show three to four liquor-related events happening in just one afternoon, not to mention the plethora of industry-only events. Add to that the countless PR agencies, beverage brands and importers housed in New York and you have an enormous mishmash of factors to contend with. It’s your job to make sure your client is innovative, fun and on top of what’s next – not what’s already trending.  So keep these hints in mind:

Be different

New York is big city, this means tastings don’t have to take place at the same, tired locales.  Think untraditional: forget restaurants and hotels (unless they have a unique space no one knew was there).  Ask photographers for ideas, they are out there shooting and see it all. Caterers are great resources too.  Don’t be afraid to venture out of the typical comfort zone, if Dior can do it, so can you! Your chosen venue should always make a point and if your guests can say it was their first visit there, even better.   Even if you’ve never seen an event taking place at a given…

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The Booze Bin

3 Craft Beer Festivals You WANT To Be Tagged In

Combine alcohol, nice weather and a festival atmosphere, and voila – nine times out of ten, you’re attending a drunk fest. The kind of event you want to un-tag yourself from on Facebook the morning after. Need I say more? As the interest in craft beer grows, so does the number of events promoting the beverage. Exhibit A: The Great American Beer Festival, a legendary annual beer celebration in Denver, Colorado, sold 60,000 tickets in 20 minutes last year. That’s 3,000 (!) tickets a minute.


Unfortunately for the industry, most craft beer events don’t know how to nurture America’s interest in craft beer. An opportunity that Alex Papajohn, founder of the first Capital Ale House National Beer Expo, is hoping to seize: “The average craft beer fest provides little more than a walk-around tasting.  We’ve reached a turning point in the industry that calls for more premium festivals. I want to elevate craft beer to the point where you choose to bring a great bottle of craft beer, instead of wine, to a party.” Taking cues from the wine industry, Papajohn is enriching his festival experience with satellite events, educational…

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