The Chocolate Manufacturers Association (CMA) holds an annual one-day "Chocolate Symposium" to bring the media and other stakeholders together to learn the finer points of the chocolate industry.
Because attendance at the event was limited, the group teamed up with Fleishman-Hillard to create a webcast of a chocolate tasting, bringing the sweet event to journalists wherever they live.
"We wanted to extend the experience to media who were not able to attend the event," says Stacey Kerans, Fleishman VP. The universal popularity of chocolate made it too much of a sure thing to limit to a relative handful of reporters.
The agency sent out chocolate "tasting kits" to media members - the same kits given to those who attended the symposium. The kit included follow-along instructions, so that reporters could taste the chocolate (blind-tasting style) as they viewed the webcast itself, which featured expert commentary. Media outreach targeted national media outlets, with a focus on food writers. "The whole goal was to make sure that people are learning more about how to actually experience chocolate," Kerans says, "much in the same way people are doing wine tastings right now."
Fleishman's goal for the webcast was to have 20 reporters or bloggers participate; so far, it has drawn 26. "We doubled media attendance from the previous year," says Lynn Bragg, CMA president, via e-mail. "It's helped us connect with media and build relationships with them in a way that has increased awareness of the CMA."
The CMA continues to work with Fleishman. The webcast will remain online, along with its downloadable materials, so that consumers can access them to host their own "tasting parties," Kerans adds.
PR team: Chocolate Manufacturers Association (Vienna, VA) and Fleishman-Hillard (Washington)
Campaign: The CMA chocolate-tasting webcast
Duration: May 4 to June 15, 2007
Budget: $19,500 ($6,800 materials; $12,700 fees)