Page 5: Communicating with external stakeholders
One of the most significant groups of external stakeholders is Bernard Matthews' customers. However, other important external stakeholders include the government and regulatory bodies, the company's suppliers, the media and the communities that live close to the company's farms and operations.
Bernard Matthews' communications programme aims to improve perceptions of the company and brand and to increase public awareness of turkey as a tasty, versatile and healthy meat. These are important parts of rebuilding trust with consumers and restoring the company's reputation. Bernard Matthews uses written, visual and face-to-face forms of communication to get its messages across to external stakeholders.
Bernard Matthews advertises on television and in the press. This is a powerful and effective way of getting a message to a wide audience. It helps to keep the brand in the minds of consumers. However, advertising is a one-way channel and needs follow-up, for example, through market research, in order to understand the impact it has.
In the past, Bernard Matthews' advertising focused on its more processed products or Christmas range. However, its 2011 campaign not only promotes fresh turkey for the first time, it also emphasises its versatility, taste and low-fat benefits and that it can be enjoyed all year round. This builds on recent campaigns designed to reconnect the brand with its farming origins, containing messages such as '100% British turkey'.
Internet and social media
Bernard Matthews currently has four websites targeted at different audiences. These promote new products and the company's farming credentials and publicise new initiatives and the health benefits of turkey:
- A corporate website that provides an overview of the business.
- A consumer site, giving information on the turkey product range.
- A Foodservice website, providing information to the catering trade, including pubs and schools.
- A campaigning website, Change Your Meat Not Your Menu, which supports Bernard Matthews' drive to get consumers to make turkey part of their everyday meals.
Engaging with online communities through social media is also an important part of the company's overall communication strategy. For example, the website 'Mumsnet' is a forum for parents to exchange ideas and share tips and advice. By engaging with discussion groups and blogs on Mumsnet, Bernard Matthews encouraged mothers in 2010 to discuss the value of including turkey in the family diet.
Media and public relations
Bernard Matthews also seeks to communicate indirectly with consumers by engaging with the media and other influential opinion formers. The management of Bernard Matthews regularly meets with journalists to ensure that they understand what the company is doing. For instance, these meetings may highlight the emphasis the company places on animal welfare or its approach to sustainability. By rearing all its turkeys in the UK and sourcing wheat for the majority of its feed from East Anglia, Bernard Matthews' products have low food miles.
Bernard Matthews regularly issues press releaseson new products and initiatives. They enable the media to understand and report accurately on what the company is doing. For example, one press release highlighted that it had removed all artificial colours, flavours and hydrogenated fats from its branded products. It has also lowered levels of saturated fats and salts. This message is reinforced by improved product labelling and use of the Quality British Turkey and Red Tractor quality marks.
These symbols on food packaging form a small part of the company”s communications strategy by providing a guarantee of quality for consumers that words alone do not express. They show that the turkey meat comes from farms that meet high standards of food safety and hygiene, animal welfare and environmental protection.
The company also attempts to influence consumer opinion in a non-verbal way by using 'celebrity status' in its campaigns. Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White and Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Romero help to present the 'Change your Meat not your Menu' campaign. Their image helps convey the versatility, taste and health benefits of turkey.
In addition, the company has previously held face-to-face sampling sessions to take its message directly to consumers. These events show consumers how versatile turkey is and how it can be used in everyday meals, not just as a traditional roast. They also give consumers the opportunity to try turkey for themselves and realise what a great tasting meat it is.
As the largest employer in East Anglia, Bernard Matthews also needs to build relationships in the local community through its corporate responsibilitystrategy and community-led projects:
- Bernard Matthews provides educational sponsorship support and mentoring for several local schools.
- It has launched a youth awards scheme for young people in Norfolk and Suffolk to recognise individuals with outstanding talent and community spirit.
- It works with the Norfolk Community Fund, supporting local charities and organisations in the local community