Potato Entertainment

Published in the January 2012 Issue Published online: Jan 23, 2012 Meredith Myers
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If you had 40 hours in New York City to promote potatoes, what would you do? In October, the United States Potato Board Public Relations team scheduled a whirlwind media tour, spanning the course of a day and a half, to publicize the newly published, USPB-commissioned, NHANES research that found potatoes were the largest and most economical potassium source in the American diet. It was also a perfect time to bring to life our potato types initiative, "Seven Days, Seven Ways," which encourages a different potato type and recipe for every day of the week.

An hour and a half after we landed at LaGuardia airport on October 4, we started the clock.

First up-the Editor's Showcase "Cooking and Entertaining" event, held at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. We chose this venue because it attracted an impressive list of 79 high-caliber members of the New York-area media for a private networking event. This evening soiree provided the perfect environment to talk potatoes, one-on-one, with influential mainstream media members, ranging from producers for the "Today Show" to editors from Martha Stewart Living, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping and Rachael Ray magazine. We had Katie Cavuto-Boyle, RD (star of the Potato Types videos housed on www.potatogoodness.com) on-hand as our "celebrity" spokesperson. While the Potato Types videos played at the booth and guests sampled Crab-Filled Potato Bites, she helped promote "Seven Days, Seven Ways." We're following up with all media in attendance, including a targeted pitch to the two "Today Show" producers who were interested in potato recipe demo segment ideas.

The next morning, we hailed a cab to Rockefeller Center for an interview with Martha Stewart Living Radio's "Morning Living" program on SiriusXM radio. Broadcast-savvy Katie Cavuto-Boyle was eloquent and convincing, delivering all her message points while naturally interacting with the hosts for almost a half-hour interview. She converted a passive, "Sure, I eat potatoes every once in a while" host to a believer-"I'm making potatoes tonight!" She also gave listeners a tutorial through two USPB recipes with the hosts: Pan Fried Fingerling Potatoes with Wild Mushroom Sauce and Blackened Blue Potato Salad.

Finally, that evening, we hosted a private dinner event for 13 key media, nutrition celebrities and cookbook developers who contribute to the following high-ranking publications: USAToday.com, MSNBC.com, Everyday with Rachael Ray, Everyday Food, Weight Watchers, O, the Oprah Magazine, Self, Whole Living, Woman's Day, Glamour, Fitness and FIRST magazine. Held at Empellón, a trendy, new upscale Mexican restaurant in New York City's West Village neighborhood, the meal featured all seven potato types in unique Mexican small plate dishes. Over the course of three hours, the team (including Katie Cavuto-Boyle) and the 13 guests discussed a wide array of potato news and information as well as overall potato nutrition. An impromptu game of "Potato Trivia Q&A" popped up, with guests trying to stump the USPB team with potato questions. They all asked great questions during the evening, from inquiries about potatoes and the school meal program to asking exactly how we would like to see potatoes portrayed in the media when it comes to both recipes and nutrition content.

There are a lot of brands and organizations vying for the ear (and ink!) of New York editors, writers and producers, so we consider this trip extremely successful. We talked with an elite group of nutrition and media influencers because we had an impressive collection of relevant and important news and nutrition research to discuss. It also helps that long-term relationships we've built, based on credible science and high-quality resources, continue to keep some exclusive doors open. We all knew as we boarded our planes home, this trip would help maintain top-of-mind presence for potatoes as well as generate stories for the long term.