The American Egg Board (AEB) recently named Edward Hoffman as vice president, marketing and communications.
To celebrate today’s (April 10) White House Easter Egg Roll, we caught up with Hoffman to talk about AEB’s priorities, how it works to manage industry challenges, including the current outrage over egg prices, and how the Board measures success.
PRNEWS: Tell us a little bit about the AEB’s priorities.
Edward Hoffman: …One of the things I love about working with boards…is the common thread of building demand through education, research and promotion.
AEB developed a strategic plan just over 18 months ago, to really give more focus to the industry in terms of what our efforts are. For marketing and communications, our job is really around driving consumption into lower demand periods. So right now, with Easter and Passover [last week], eggs kind of sell themselves. But during the summer months, that's a low period for us...One of the big initiatives is to expand eggs’ role beyond breakfast.
…We had some research that was done recently that validated that there are still a lot of misperceptions around the role of cholesterol in diets. And there's a lot of science showing how eggs can fit into a healthy diet pattern…
And then, of course, telling the farmer story. Our egg farmers are very passionate about the communities they support. They're very passionate about food insecurity, and we also have a forthcoming sustainability story and platform that is in development. The farmers do quite a bit already that they don't necessarily take credit for. But we need to add a sharper focus around that…
PRNEWS: What are some of the biggest reputational challenges specific to your industry?
Hoffman: What makes boards a little different is that we represent an entire industry. We don't actually sell anything, as a board; we represent the farmers who sell their products.
Egg prices have been the issue that we've been managing, really since the beginning of the year…Our approach with that is to provide fact-based information and be transparent on pricing and on supply. It's really making sure that the media and our stakeholders, the farmers, and their customers…have the correct information…there are some misperceptions out there, and some of that is inflamed by the media; some of it is perpetuated by politicians.
PRNEWS: Everything these days is political. How does the board think about responding to external issues?
Hoffman: Our reputation is our farmers’ reputations. Our farmers are hard-working people in the agricultural community who have been…wrongfully accused of price gouging. A common kind of misconception is that farmers set prices, [but eggs] are a commodity. They're traded on the commodity market; [farmers] have nothing to do with prices…
PRNEWS: How do you break through with that messaging?
Hoffman: We've worked quite a bit with the media…Our CEO and president Emily Metz, did 2,200 media interviews in the span of three months, because there's a lot of interest around this.
...Our problem isn't awareness or getting them in the refrigerator, because [they already are] an indispensable part of people's lives. The media has certainly been a part of that; we've done some op-ed placements. We keep our social media a bit lighter; we do have an education pillar for that, where we would work those messages in, but Instagram and Facebook aren't the platforms to go with our messages around that.
PRNEWS: What is your social strategy, in terms of the platforms you're on and what messages you push out?
Hoffman: We have three pillars for our social strategy: inspiration, so that's recipe ideas, how to use eggs in everyday life; education, such as did you know there are 312 million egg-laying hens? We do a lot of nutrition messaging as well, but we try not to go too heavy-handed with it…And then entertainment, just sort of the fun aspect of it.
We are very active on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn. Twitter we're active on, but it’s a little bit more situational for us. And the we are currently working on our TikTok strategy right now.
PRNEWS: How do you measure success?
Hoffman: This is one of the reasons that I was brought on, to help dial up what exactly measurement means for our marketing and communications programs. We're going to be doing some work over the summer to identify our targets—who is our consumer target audience or audiences that can really help us accelerate the increase of demand? And also link that to measurement.
Right now, I think we have a more traditional approach with measurement in terms of setting metrics and goals for our respective programs. But we need to take that to that next level around whether we are moving the needle when it comes to awareness around health perceptions. And ultimately, what is the needle, when it comes to business impact? So, more to come in terms of what measurement looks like for the American Egg Board, but it's really going to ladder up to a better way to quantify and measure demand.