The Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission plans a new campaign focusing on contributions that the state’s more than 400 strawberry growers make to their communities as well as the health benefits of adding the fruit to one’s daily diet.
Called 365 Days of California Strawberries, the integrated marketing campaign is designed to build a positive perception of California strawberries through “broad-reaching initiatives that target consumers, community leaders, policy makers and the foodservice industry,” said Carolyn O’Donnell, communications director.
The commission also hopes to beef up its brand loyalty among consumers by expanding its social media and blogger ambassador programs.
Each month, a blogger will post strawberry-oriented content on topics like food, moms or nutrition and contribute a recipe.
“We’ll feature that on our page, and the bloggers will feature it on their pages so that we’re cross-promoting between the California strawberry presence on line and the bloggers’ presence,” O’Donnell said. “And we’ll be using social media to distribute and amplify the word about the theme of the month.”
Interaction with bloggers is nothing new for the commission.
For several years, the commission has invited bloggers to visit strawberry fields and take part in other events.
Once, bloggers were able to bring their families for a day on the farm, and another time they spent a day following strawberries through the harvest process one day followed by a “culinary experience,” working with a chef and learning ways to use strawberries in recipes the next day, she said.
Bloggers typically share their experiences and photos on their blogs and on social media, and the commission shares the information through its social media outlets.
The commission launched its blogger ambassador program last year working with six bloggers and will expand it to a monthly event this year.
The commission also is promoting the variety of ways to prepare strawberries.
“Around the theme of 365 Days of California Strawberries, we’re posting something every day that features some way to add California strawberries to your table,” O’Donnell said.
The program will involve social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and Google Plus.
The program also will include farm tours, culinary events, recipe creation, contests and digital campaigns.
At its annual nutrition research meeting, the commission will invite researchers whom it has funded to gather and discuss their findings and explore potential avenues for further research that demonstrates the nutritional benefits of eating strawberries.
The commission also will reach out to nationally recognized registered dietitians, such as David Grotto, Mitzi Dulan and Sylvia Klinger, who will work closely with the organization on major television, news and social media initiatives to promote the health benefits of strawberries, O’Donnell said.
Klinger will specialize in Spanish-language media.
The commission will host a booth featuring dietitians and farmers at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in Atlanta Oct. 19-22.
Special outreach efforts also will be made at key times of the year, like National Nutrition Month in March and National Strawberry Month in May.
The commission will expand its foodservice program this year to reach chefs, foodservice operators, menu developers and food writers through media events, recipe demonstrations and ongoing distribution of tools and resources designed to inspire creative menu items featuring California strawberries, O’Donnell said.
On the public affairs side, the commission will conduct field tours to help the public and elected officials understand the challenges that farmers face and the kinds of things farmers do to be good stewards in the community and demonstrate “the positive economic, environmental and cultural impacts that result from strawberry farming,” O’Donnell said.