Not only is the confection industry somewhat recession proof, but most reporters aren't putting blame on candy and sweets for America's growing obesity problem, says Bernard Pacyniak, editor-in-chief of trade magazine Candy Industry.
"Confections account for only 2% of caloric intake, so it's considered a treat or indulgence," he adds, noting the media is also following the candy industry's efforts to add calcium and vitamins to products, making them good for consumers.
Like a lot of food categories, confections are going upscale, which is creating more opportunities for coverage, Pacyniak says.
"We're devoting more coverage to the whole 'premiumization' trend across the board - there are artesian chocolatiers popping up all over the place," he adds.
Much of this coverage occurs on the food pages, but given that sweets compete with other packaged goods for space, Bettie DeBruhl, SVP and GM of Stevens FKM Public Relations, says that communications pros often need more than a sampling program to gain placement.
"To get the big ink, it does help to have a celebrity onboard," adds DeBruhl, who works with Sugar Land, TX-based Wholesome Sweeteners on its organic sugar and Organic Zero sweetener products. "So chef partnerships are important, and we also work with actress and author Marilu Henner, who is known for living a healthy lifestyle."
The media is responding to the public's increased interest in replicating the treats it enjoys in restaurants and stores, says Tish Boyle, editor-in-chief of Chocolatier magazine.
"Everything tends to be positive in our magazine," she adds. "Occasionally we'll write about the new studies touting the health benefits of chocolate, but mostly we're looking for products to review, anything new in the industry, and recipes from either chefs or chocolatiers."
Sweets and confection media, especially mainstream outlets, used to be cyclical, covering candy around holidays, such as Valentine's Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas, says Ken Alan, VP of Kaminsky Productions, who recently handled PR for the launch of Clemmy's all-natural, sugar-free, super-premium ice cream.
Yet, he says, that is gradually changing, noting, "With the rise of 24-hour food TV networks, there's now an insatiable demand - no pun intend - for stories on new products that are revolutionary or real breakthroughs."
There's also plenty of interest in the business of confections, Pacyniak adds, noting Mars' recent $23 billion purchase of Wrigley, which was a major financial story.
"On every retail counter, there's a tremendous battle for shelf space, and the amount of new confection products introduced ranks in the top two or three of all industries," he says.
- To generate coverage of confections, taste really is key. Make sure you have an aggressive sampling program in place for reporters and editors to take part in
- Although candy and other sweets are consumed year-round, the press tends to focus coverage around holidays, such as Halloween, Easter, and Valentine's Day
- Remember that with many sweets, it's what producers can make with it that's important, so include recipes in your pitch, especially if they're provided by high-profile chefs