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Thursday, June 21, 2012

What's significant about 308,640?

That’s the number of children and adults in the Bay Area who are healthier because of new healthy beverage policies implemented by 15 diverse organizations. 

These organizations, supported by Kaiser Permanente and the Bay Area Nutrition and Physical Activity Collaborative (BANPAC), have shifted their priorities and adopted policies addressing the beverages and foods they serve, sell and share. Yesterday nearly 150 BANPAC members celebrated their efforts at the launch of BANPAC’s 2012 Rethink Your Drink campaign. According to BANPAC, if each of the individuals affected by these new policies drank just one less sugary drink a day, the consumption of sugary drinks in the Bay Area would be reduced by 17 million gallons a year. That's equivalent to 2,000 tanker trucks!

View coverage of the event and gain a better understanding of the issue: 

Northern California isn't the only place addressing the over-consumption of sugary drinks. Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch Englander spoke on Tuesday about a proposed ban of unhealthy sugary drinks from vending machines in Los Angeles County parks and libraries. A formal proposal will be presented in 45 days. 

Learn more about the efforts in Los Angeles: 

Monday, June 18, 2012

How Arguments Are Framed Can Be Key To Winning

Vote No on New Taxes! Vote No to ‘Nanny’ Government!
These are simple messages that can ring very loud and clear with many people. It doesn’t get much simpler than ‘No.’  Hell, we even teach the word to our pets.
So when a library was going to need to close if a local tax couldn’t be raised, the library supporters had a simple response for their cash strapped campaign to get out the YES vote - they planned a book burning party.  That’s right – a book burning party.  Plus they posted signs saying, “Vote to Close the Library,” set up a book burning Facebook page, Tweets, handed out fliers and more, all to get people to vote to close the library. 

I don’t know about you, but when I think of burning books, I think of Nazi Germany. It’s not a pretty picture or anything I want to be a part of.
Watch the video.

Their goal was a simple one - change the issue from one of taxes to one of closing a library. And it worked.

People in the soda industry have used this same tactic very effectively.  They turn the soda issue from being about childhood obesity and health to one of unfair taxes on the poor (like they need to drink sodas in the first place), nanny government and freedom of choice. Unfortunately, explaining the complexities of how sugary drinks are linked to obesity and health is much harder to get across to Joe Six-pack than taxes and freedom of choice.

Framing the issue is a major part of controlling the issue.  If Americans are to take charge and get their current high levels of sugary drink consumption under control (and along with it obesity rates and health), then the issue needs to be framed in simple terms  - just like burning books.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Listen! Tips on How to Break Out From the Online Noise

You’ve hired your public relations firm to write a press release and distribute it to the local media. You hope it gets coverage. Make a few follow up calls. End of story.

But in today’s technology-centered world, is this enough to get your message through and break out from the noise?

In the past, the way the message worked its way to the audience was simple.

With the rise of search engine sites such as Google and Yahoo, as well as social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, the conversation taking place today is very different from what we’ve seen in the past.  It’s active and moves in a very different pattern. Today, audiences seek to find the information rather than waiting for the information to be delivered to them. This makes marketing both an opportunity and a challenge.
Here are some trends about today’s consumers:
  • 93 percent of people who use the Internet look for company information through search
  • 80 percent use search to make purchases on the Web
  • Top search engine rankings can generate up to 900 percent more traffic to a site, potentially increasing exposure up to 80 percent
  • Consumers are using search to identify brands and then turning to review sites and peer recommendations as a way of “quality checking”

No longer are the days where customers will simply take you at your word. Information is everywhere and readily available for people to find. The trick is to have your message show up when they don’t even know they are looking for it.
How do you do this? Here are three tips on how to start talking to your online audiences:

Syndicate your content
. Your information must be in more than just one place and easily shared through the various social networking sites. This will also allow for your message to be picked up by the search engines. For example, Google’s search algorithm requires lots of fresh content and ‘citations’ or social signals from the social web.

Write the correct type of press release. There are three types of press releases for different audiences. Understand who you want to reach and use the appropriate press release to get the job done.
  • Traditional: This is the top down press release that relies on the media to reach the target audience. It’s used mainly for editors of newspapers, radio, TV and magazines.
  • Optimized: This is the online audiences and buyers. This usually includes an online press kit, unique Web page, direct communication and search ability.
  • Social Media Press Releases: This is used for media, bloggers and consumers. This type of release combines the traditional and optimized releases. The tone is conversational and has the ability to spread through word of mouth and go viral.

Refine your keywords. Understand what the release is about and find the phrases to use as your keywords. HINT: your brand is not always a keyword. Do your research and find out how certain words are doing in the search engines. Continue to refine and practice. Communication today is not static and your keyword should not be either.

Start incorporating some of these tips to become an online breakout star!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Hurray for Mayor Bloomberg

Mayor Michael Bloomberg certainly struck a chord last week when he proposed banning super-sized (portions over 16 ounces) sugary drinks. The "nannygaters" came out in full force with their tired complaints that the ban takes away freedom. The industry's mouthpiece Consumer Freedom went so far as to publish a full-page ad showing the Mayor in a dress and calling him "Nanny Bloomberg." 

The beverage and fast food industries started sweating and got their high-priced attorneys working overtime. Law suits are being threatened.

The children's health community applauded his courage. Regular folks are all over the soda fountain with their opinions.

What is this all about?

For one thing, a LOT of money. According to a report in Advertising Age, "Carbonated soft drinks account for about 10 percent of fast-food and fast-casual restaurants' sales in the U.S., according to restaurant market-research firm Technomic. That's a sizable portion of top-line sales, but factor in the profitability of soft drinks for the chains -- a 90 percent-plus profit margin -- and the potential impact on the bottom line becomes clear."

Personally I was thrilled at the announcement. We're working with Rethink Your Drink campaigns all across California to get the message out that sugary drinks are the largest contributor of added sugar in the diet and that the extra calories from all this sugar contribute significantly to overweight and obesity. 

People are generally shocked when they find out that an average 20-ounce soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar and absolutely no essential nutrients. In a year's time, that comes out to the equivalent of 39 pounds of sugar consumed by the average California adolescent, just from sugary drinks. 

In California, 62 percent of teens, 41 percent of children and 24 percent of adults drink one or more sodas a day. That doesn't even include all of the other sugary drinks such as pre-sweetened tea and coffee drinks, flavored milk, fruit drinks, sweet agua frescas, energy and sports drinks. There is no end of research proving that adults who drink one or more sugar-sweetened drinks a day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight than adults who don't guzzle these beverages. For each additional sugary drink that a child consumes a day, his or her risk of obesity jumps 60 percent. And we haven't even talked about dental cavities.

Sugary drinks are the cigarettes of the food world. Like cigarettes, the cost in terms of skyrocketing health care costs and lost productivity, not to mention the terrible personal costs of diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and some cancers, is sobering. Anything that helps reduce consumption is a good idea to me. 

~ Paula