Beef Issues Quarterly Archive

Issues Media Monitoring and Response Analysis: June 2014 – August 2014

by Season Solorio, Executive Director, Issues & Reputation Management and Joe Hansen, Associate Director, Issues Response, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff

As discussed in the last issue of Beef Issues Quarterly the underlying philosophy of the Issues and Reputation Management program is to carry out measured responses – this means avoiding creating news and targeting the best opportunities for response in order to maintain consumer confidence in beef. 

In this issue we will analyze the response to an environmental study that was release from a reputable, peer-reviewed journal in July 2014.  By placing a quote from Dr. Kim Stackhouse, Director, Sustainability Research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff, quickly after the report was released we were able to drive coverage to skew more favorably.

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. 

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 2014 through August 2014 a total of 880 traditional media stories and a random sampling of 918 social media mentions were analyzed as part of the quarterly monitoring report through CARMA. The random sampling of 918 social media mentions were a snapshot of more than 1,185,592 mentions of the beef industry during the same period. Beef price stories were the leading topic in July and were one of the top three leading topics in both June and August. A second leading sub-topic with 8 percent share of voice for the month of July was a study that discussed the environmental impact of raising beef. This article examines the media coverage and response to these two issues. 

For this quarter, June 2014 through August 2014 there were several traditional media stories that lead the overall coverage of the beef industry.  One of those issues was beef prices, a topic we discussed in the last issue of Beef Issues Quarterly.  As the team had anticipated, the volume of pricing stories remained elevated throughout the summer grilling season, covering 14% share of voice in June, 18% in July and 16% in August.  However, due to the diligent efforts of the team, the favorability of the stories has remained the same or increased slightly as well.  The story has begun to pivot to “what now” – the most recent stories note that beef prices are high but also provide consumers with a call to action and recommendation of what consumers can do to make sure that beef continues to fit into their budget.  This includes selective value cuts or shopping sales messages being pushed by the Beef Checkoff.  An analysis of social media shows favorable sentiment on beef not being too expensive and consumers clamoring for beef despite rising prices.  

In July, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America (PNAS) release a report entitled Land, irrigation water, greenhouse gas, and reactive nitrogen burdens of meat, eggs, and dairy production in the United States.  This report received a significant amount of media attention across print media and broadcast media, pick up was not that significant on social media.  

Due to successfully placing a quote in the Associated Press syndicated story, the online conversation spiked when the report first published and then subsequently dropped.

The major difference between this study and other studies is that the Beef Checkoff was able to get a quote from Dr. Kim Stackhouse into the Associated Press story.  This quick response enabled widespread pick-up of the quote in many other major media publications including NBC News, Boston Globe, CBS News – Washington, D.C.  The most quoted section of the statement said:

“The PNAS study represents a gross over-simplification of the complex systems that make up the beef value chain, a point which the authors acknowledge. The fact is the U.S. beef industry produces beef with lower greenhouse gas emissions than any other country. The conclusions in this study only serve to confuse consumers about the fact that including beef as part of a healthy diet can co-exist with a healthy environment in the United States, as recently evidenced by the beef lifecycle assessment.”

Nearly half of the total news stories evaluated as a result of the PNAS study included some version of the quote by Dr. Stackhouse above.  The quote was also included in several broadcast media clips across the top 50 media markets in the country, including San Diego, CA.

While not all of the articles were positive toward beef, the inclusion of Dr. Stackhouse’s quote in a syndicated outlet helped balance the story and offered additional perspective.  This result underscores the importance of a quick thinking team that can rapidly assemble and respond to issues and media inquiries as they happen.  

Additional Resources

Tags: Beef Issues Quarterly, Fall 2014, Issues Monitoring

October 1, 2014