Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The steak bouquet and the value of great PR


The story of the Valentine's Day steak bouquet really captured the public imagination this week, with the meaty gift creating a buzz on Twitter and Facebook, as well as gaining coverage in the media.

Created by Tewkesbury-based Quality Standard butcher Anthony Bowness as an alternative to the traditional dozen red roses, the beef bouquet even gets a mention in the Daily Telegraph. The tasty treat has divided the population, with reactions ranging from ‘awesome’ to ‘ewww’, but at least it got people talking.

This may be a bit of fun, but the importance of great public relations stories like this to the meat industry should not be overlooked. The tough economic climate means we must do what we can to ensure that people continue the meat-eating habit. Added to that, there are plenty of groups out there who would rather we didn’t eat meat, for reasons related to climate change, animal welfare, health or many others.

There are plenty of groups and individuals out there who are already doing a great job of promoting the industry. Yorkshire-based butcher John Penny and Sons recently launched the ‘Meat Crusade’, communicating to consumers the benefits of shopping at their local butcher.

Another example is Ladies in Beef, a country-wide network of female beef farmers formed to drive awareness of the quality and versatility of British beef. Their annual event, the Great British Beef Week, gives the industry the opportunity to make a concerted push to promote British beef consumption.

And we shouldn't forget Meat Trade Journal's National Butchers Week, which gives the butchery sector a fantastic platform to promote their trade to consumers. There are plenty of others out there of course – unfortunately we can’t mention you all!

PR is no longer exclusively the domain of expensive agencies. Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook mean that the tools to communicate with the public are accessible to everyone. And, most importantly, at zero cost.

This industry is full of people who believe passionately in what they do and have fantastic knowledge and skills that they should be proud of. Hopefully initiatives like these will give consumers a much better understanding of where their meat comes from and give them plenty of good reasons to choose quality, farm assured beef and lamb.