As a magazine editor, my job sometimes involves conference calls, long meetings and paperwork. Every job does, and I do my best to accomplish those tasks as well as possible. Other times, my job gives me opportunities that I would have never otherwise experienced. Case in point, my recent trip to cover the October cover story for Independent Processor. I had to — for work, mind you — attend Goettafest at Newport on the Levee in Cincinnati, Ohio.
There I was that evening, noshing on Goetta Mac & Cheese and Deep-Fried Goetta Balls, enjoying a cold beverage and sitting by the river, where a cool breeze helped relieve the heat of a summer evening. A pretty good ‘90s cover band was playing, and I had a gorgeous view of the Cincinnati skyline from across the Ohio River. There was plenty of company around me, and relatively few people were staring into their phones. They were simply enjoying the moment.
You wouldn’t normally expect that a meat company could provide tranquility like that, but Glier’s Meats does it every year with its 4-day festival. Other companies get to do the same with festivals of their own. Some companies organize their own events, and others participate in community events by offering food. Earlier this year I watched (but regrettably didn’t participate) in a hot dog eating contest sponsored by RJ’s Meats of Hudson, Wis. The event was held during Hudson Days, and the community ran the festival. RJ’s provided the food.
Many companies in the meat industry do well in terms of community outreach, but sometimes they do it in a behind the scenes way. Meat markets interact directly with consumers every day, but what about a further processor or a burger maker? Even if you’re headquartered in an industrial park, you are still a neighbor, and people like good neighbors. Host an open house, send a food truck to area events, create gift packages for local charity raffles. Not every facility is equipped to host a group tour, but you can provide a “virtual walkthrough” of your facility through a PowerPoint slideshow. Not only does positive interaction with your community provide good publicity, but it can help take some of the mystery out of the meat industry. Some moves result in good sales, and others result in good will. Both are necessary for a successful business.