Issues Media Monitoring and Response Analysis: June 2015 – August 2015

by Season Solorio, Executive Director, Issues & Reputation Management, Joe Hansen, Director, Issues Response and Amy Poague, Manager, Issues Analytics, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, contractors to the Beef Checkoff

Summary

On a daily basis, the Issues and Reputation Management team, on behalf of the beef checkoff, carefully surveys the landscape across traditional media, broadcast media and social media to determine which issues warrant a response. Using a variety of tools, including CARMA for broadcast and traditional media monitoring and Nuvi for social media monitoring, the team overlays the data from both applications to create a clear picture of how an issue is playing out in the external environment.

Background

Each quarter, CARMA reviews traditional media coverage and a small sampling of social media monitoring coverage and assigns a favorability rating to this coverage. From June through August 2015 a total of 614 traditional media stories and a random sampling of 996 social media mentions were analyzed as part of the quarterly monitoring report through CARMA. The random sampling of 996 social media mentions was a snapshot of more than 1,273,894 mentions of the beef industry during the same period. Nutritional vegetarianism was once again the top issue over the three month period, primarily driven by articles discussing drought and the announcement of Beyonce’s new 22-day vegan diet – she later admitted eating meat on her “vegan” diet. Other issues that were widely covered include antibiotics and cattle & wildfire, primarily because of the wildfires in the Western United States.

Discussion

While the usual arsenal of communications and issues response tools – such as press releases, statements, trained spokespeople, etc. – continues to be important, tracking and responding to issues through online media, particularly social media, is becoming more and more important. Social media data provides the Issues and Reputation Management team with insights on consumer reactions to an issue or media story, and allows the team to uncover trends, and develop predictions. When these two mediums – traditional media and social media – collide, it provides an important case study for the beef industry.

In late August, just a week before Labor Day, Chapman University in California published a study in which they sampled a variety of ground meat products. According to their online press release, the study showed that some samples of wild game meat, such as elk and buffalo meat, which were ordered from some online retailers were mislabeled and were actually other types of meat. The study did test eight beef samples, and all of the beef samples were 100% beef.  However, in reading about “ground meats” being mislabeled, several media outlets inaccurately assumed that “ground beef” had been mislabeled. Some stories even displayed photos of ground beef in grocery store meat cases. The social media listening software that the Issues and Reputation Management team uses quickly picked up the study, as well as these inaccurate stories. The team was able to quickly and effectively reach out to Chapman University to let them know of the inaccurate media headlines and the misinterpretation by the media. Chapman agreed to issue a correction to their original press release, stating that all samples of beef tested were in fact 100% beef. The team then used this correction to reach out to media outlets, including The Daily Mail   and Gizmodo, to get them to change their headlines and correct their stories. Additionally, the team created a post on FactsAboutBeef.com, clarifying that “There is No Horse Meat in Ground Beef” and was able to utilize this post for any consumers who may have seen the study and might have been searching for information. Thanks to the quick action by the team, additional measures, such as targeted digital advertising or keyword targeting on Twitter were not needed, as the traditional media outlets corrected their stories and the conversations and coverage through social media remained balanced.

Online media monitoring and quick action by the Issues and Reputation Management Team, prevented the continuous spread of misinformation and allowed consumers to understand the true findings of the study. And ultimately, it made sure that this didn’t become an issue of consumer confidence or consumer demand, especially before one of the biggest grilling holidays of the season.

Conclusion

Issues Management is equal parts art and science and the beef checkoff has the tools and the team in in place to protect consumer confidence, and therefore consumer demand, in beef. The ability to serve-up a message or provide perspective during an issue to the right person, at the right time, is critical. The team uses all of the tools – traditional media relations tactics, as well as more high-tech social media tactics – in order to do this on a daily basis.

Additional Resources

Tags: Beef Issues Quarterly, Fall 2015, Issues Monitoring

September 19, 2015