Soybean Month Promotion
About The Project
The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board (ASPB) represents the largest row crop in Arkansas, which produces over 3 million acres of soybeans each year and has an annual economic impact of more than $2 billion. For these reasons and more, the Governor of Arkansas has for the last several years declared November Arkansas Soybean Month, to honor the contribution of the soybean and the soybean farmers’ contributions to the state.
In recent years, this event has not received the attention it deserves. To revitalize the public’s interest in the Arkansas soybean industry, ASPB enlisted The Communications Group.
Before piecing a plan together, we first conducted informal primary qualitative research to understand past activities used to promote the event. Primarily, the activities were limited to an underattended Declaration Signing by the Governor, which was lightly if at all promoted socially or through any other owned media channels.
A simple news release was typically released as well, but only to a handful of prominent business publications serving central Arkansas.
This was followed by a content analysis of what materials were distributed and published. The findings of that analysis revealed that the materials distributed to the media were primarily written to appeal to farmers. The few pieces that were published, strayed from the farmer-focused message and instead spoke to the consumer interest side of the story.
This revelation prompted us to research and create a new media distribution list that was more inclusive of local consumer and community publications and outlets.
In review of the research, the entire strategy that we had been using was called into question, causing us to rethink our audience, our message, and where we communicated that message.
With the overall goal of the project centered on creating statewide public awareness about Arkansas Soybean Month, our SMART objectives became primarily focused on generating attention from the media catering to our primary audience in this case – health-conscious consumers.
- Generate a mix of 10 news stories about Soybean Month during November from local and statewide media outlets.
- Generate 100,000 potential impressions for Arkansas Soybean Month from independent media outlets during November.
Based on the findings of our research, we decided to take a more consumer-focused approached to the content we generated for the promotion of Arkansas Soybean Month. Instead, we targeted local community-based publications leveraging soybean’s nutritional profile as the foundation of our message to appeal to editor’s interest in health and wellness stories. We started pitching these story ideas in mid-September to stay ahead of editor’s just beginning to look for content for the upcoming issue they were about to start working on. Once the pitch was acknowledged, we followed up with media kits including news releases and health and nutrition resources from the ASPB website, plus ready to post social media copy with graphics, images and applicable links to resources. With the Thanksgiving holiday being a part of the news cycle that month as well, a complimentary food article was an easy pitch to make for these local community magazines.
For the statewide publications, we focused our content on the significance of the soybean industry as a whole. We went a step further to ensure the event got the attention it deserved. Rather than invite the media to the Governor’s Declaration Signing as had been tried in previous years to no avail, we worked with ASPB to sponsor a segment of a local morning show with the provision the station cover the declaration. This guaranteed local TV news coverage. The video recording was also shared with us, which we were able to promote through ASPB’s website, social media and e-newsletter.
ComGroup developed a public relations strategy that deployed influencer marketing, a special observance, and media relations. We worked with the governor’s office to proclaim a full month dedicated to the commodity.
We leveraged media relations to earn coverage in traditional and non-traditional channels – all delivering our key messages to the demographically and geographically targeted audiences.
Overall, the campaign was a major success with one of the highest performing media blitzes undertaken by ASBP. In total, our efforts resulted in 31 stories from 16 different outlets and more than 6.2 million potential impressions.