Management: Breaking the News

September 30, 2013 08:12 AM
Management: Breaking the News

DMI monitors news, social media for dairy trends

A high-tech "newsroom" sits in the center of Dairy Management Inc.’s (DMI) newly remodeled, 9th floor offices in Rosemont, Ill., near O’Hare International Airport. DMI manages the national dairy producer checkoff program, which helps promote and protect dairy.

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More on and DMI’s social media efforts

Surrounded by computer screens and large TV monitors, DMI employees trained in the intricacies of social media monitor the world—from Fox News to MSNBC to all genre of social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more.

Their mission: To scan media for dairy news and then respond immediately and appropriately to reinforce the good news and hopefully limit the impact of bad news.

"If something is trending, we’ll craft a response and address it," says Amanda Woodhead, who had a previous stint at the Chicago Tribune in social media.

Example 1: On June 14 when the latest Superman movie, "Man of Steel," was released, the DMI newsies quickly developed the "Milk—bones of steel for everyday heroes" post for Facebook. It attracted nearly 2,500 views—twice Dairy Good’s entire Facebook audience.

"We’re meeting consumers where they are on social media and entering the conversation," says Jamie Vander Molen, one of four DMI newsies. In a previous job, she led tours at Fair Oaks Farm, so she is well versed in consumer perceptions of dairy farms and dairy farmers.

Example 2: In early August when the New Zealand food contamination scare arose in China, the newsies monitored U.S. social media for possible reactions here. No concerns about U.S. dairy food safety ever materialized, so the newsies never responded. Their rationale: Don’t fuel a crisis when none exists.

The DMI newsies also search keywords daily to see what dairy news is trending. And they follow bloggers to see what they’re saying about dairy foods and farming practices. They might reinforce a positive blog about cheese, for example, with some follow-up recipes.

Or, if a blogger questions a dairy farming practice, they might follow up with correct information or even an invitation to visit a dairy farm. "We also have ‘evergreen’ copy that consumers can go to for more information if they have questions on cow care, dairy sustainability or other issues," Woodhead says.

One of the long-term goals is to get more dairy farmers involved in social media. Dairy farmers have tremendous credibility with consumers, so the one-on-one connections build credibility, Woodhead says.

Already, DMI’s myDairy social media program has more than 1,900 farmers who use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. "We really want dairy farmers to be active and tell their
stories," says David Pelzer, DMI senior vice president of industry relations and communications.

Backed by the trust that it has built with consumers, DMI plans to use social media to respond to any dairy-related crisis, should one arise. 

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