Beef Issues Quarterly Archive

Issues Media Monitoring and Response Analysis: July -- September 2016


by Brandi Buzzard Frobose, M.S., Associate Director, Issues Communication, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff


On a daily basis, the Beef Checkoff-funded Daily News Team 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 Lexis Nexis for traditional and broadcast media monitoring, NUVI for social media monitoring, Sprinklr to track influencer engagement, and social media outlets to monitor beef community contributions, the team overlays the data from several applications to create a clear picture of how an issue is playing out in the external environment.


Each quarter, the team reviews traditional media coverage and a sampling of social media coverage to determine the level of attention that an issue receives. From July 2016 – September 2016 more than 975 traditional media stories and 1,264,516 social media mentions of the beef industry were analyzed as part of the quarterly monitoring report through Lexis Nexis and Nuvi. The one million social media mentions resulted in more than 1.2 billion social media impressions during the same period, many of which were generated in response to a study from JAMA Internal Medicine titled “Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality.” The focus of this article will center on the media surrounding the JAMA study in addition to proactive media management addressing topics of local food and antibiotic use on the farm or ranch.


As an issue breaks onto the news horizon, it is imperative to listen and analyze the media landscape in order to understand how a topic is being interpreted by the consumer and portrayed by the media. Careful analysis of both traditional and social media can provide significant, impactful insights that are critical in helping manage and respond to an issue in a timely and effective manner.

On August 1, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a study from the Harvard Public Health group called “Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake with All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality.” The study suggested that the choice of protein sources (whether animal or plant-based) would inevitably influence other components of diet and affect health outcomes.

The study found a weak association between higher intake of animal protein and higher mortality, according to a statement from Shalene McNeill, PhD, RD, Executive Director of Nutrition Research at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff. The authors of the study concluded that “high animal protein intake was positively associated with mortality and high plant protein intake was inversely associated with mortality, especially among individuals with at least one lifestyle risk factor.”

As you can see in the figure below, initial media coverage when the report was first covered by TIME and Medical Xpress caused a media spike for approximately the first 12 hours. However, in the following days, media coverage and online impressions decreased dramatically.

Figure 1. Social media impressions during the first 48 hours of media coverage

While there was no specific mention of beef in the study, the team immediately recognized that these results and headlines may prompt consumers to question the inclusion of red meat in their diet. The team worked with subject matter expert, Dr. Shalene McNeill, to create a media statement to be distributed and posted on the checkoff-funded, issues-based website Additionally, nutrition content on was made easily available for readers and interested consumers to find.

While the JAMA study received a lot of attention initially and garnered more than 18 million impressions within a few days of publication, traditional and social media conversations around this subject declined after the first 48 hours of coverage.

Figure 2. Snapshot of coverage from the initial report release to the end of the week (August 1 – August 5).

Issues and reputation management isn’t always reacting to studies or stories of the day – sometimes it’s identifying key issues around beef production and promoting positive messages from the beef community.

For example, Masters of Beef Advocacy alumna and beef farmer Val Wagner took the issue of local food to task on her blog Wag’n Tales. Wagner explained in her post “The Legend of Local” that:
“I’ll buy my food from sources I know when I can…and I’ll go to the grocery store and buy food for my family without a second thought as well.
Sometimes we need to remember that food is food. It’s a privilege that many of us take for granted. And buying food from one place or another does not make you better than anyone else – it just makes you less hungry.”
Recognizing that food purchasing trends are top of mind for many consumers and the local food movement is a constant presence on social media, the team decided to amplify this content to a broader audience who are interested in local food chains and purchasing decisions. This paid digital amplification helped ensure that more people saw the post on Twitter. Additionally, the post was also served up as suggested reading on key consumer websites via search engine placement on websites such as The Atlantic.

Figure 3. Screenshot of MBA blog placement on popular news sites.

The outcome of this paid amplification exceeded industry averages for similar promotions – between the two outlets, the promoted content received more than 5,000 link clicks and more than 3.4 million impressions or views.
Figure 4. Screenshot of Twitter content amplified through strategic audience targeting.


Yet another successful amplification of beef community content came from another MBA grad post – veterinarian Jake Geis shared his thoughts on antibiotic-free meat in a post from his blog, The Cow Docs, called “The Ethics of ‘Antibiotic-Free’ Meat.” Again, through specific audience targeting, the team was able to strategically place this content in front of a consumer audience which is looking for information about this extremely important topic. The paid amplification of the antibiotics content garnered more than 4,300 link clicks and more than 1.6 million impressions or views. The most encouraging outcome of this promotion was the engagement of a non-agriculture audience. This campaign generated robust discussion in the comments section and most notably, non-meat eaters chimed in on the conversation.

Figure 5 – Screenshot of tweet from non-meat eater about antibiotics use in agriculture
Through refined targeting and takeaways and close relationships with MBA grads, the team is able to serve up positive beef stories to an inquiring consumer base through utilization of social media and other digital media tools.


Issues and reputation 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 understand how an issue is being perceived and interpreted by consumers and the media, provide perspective or shift a strategy during an issue at the right time, is critical. The team uses all of the tools – traditional and social media monitoring, to advise response efforts on a daily basis.

The ability to serve-up a message, provide perspective or shift a strategy during an issue at the right time, is critical. The team uses all of the tools – traditional and social media monitoring, to advise on response efforts on a daily basis.
Additional Resources

Tags: Beef Issues Quarterly, Fall 2016, Issues Monitoring

October 6, 2016