In 2011 Uncle Ben's and the Porter Novelli team, including Linda Martin, Martin Pearce, Eniko Bolivar, Sydney Siegmeth, Megan McCarthy, Andrews Cops and Connie Chu, created the Begin With Ben campaign to show how starting with a single grain of rice can lead to better meals, more diverse cuisines and more family time.
Out of the campaign was born the Ben's Beginners Cooking Contest, a Facebook-driven nationwide contest challenging parents to cook a kid-friendly recipe with their child. Porter Novelli asked parents to submit a video on Uncle Ben’s Facebook page to share their experience with others for a chance at $20,000 and a $50,000 school cafeteria makeover.
Porter Novelli tapped spokesperson and model Angie Harmon to get the attention of both entertainment media and top-tier mommy bloggers, driving coverage leading up to the contest.
To create ongoing engagement with contestants via the Facebook page and to encourage votes, the team developed a turn-key PR toolkit to provide participants with a fill-in-the-blank press release, letter to principal and PTA to generate news with their own communities and schools, and to secure Facebook votes.
More than 700 videos were submitted through the Facebook application and nearly 60,000 votes were cast. Over the course of the contest, the Uncle Ben' S Facebook "likes" increased by 84%. Resulting coverage from the winner selection event in Atlanta totaled more than 38 million impressions and over 50 media placements. —Bill Miltenberg
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