By Craig Atkinson, Calgary, AB
I recently came across the article “Don’t Shy Away From Healthy Vending – Use It To Promote Yourself” by Emily Refermat on Vending Market Watch. The author particularly appeals to the positive opportunity presented to business owners offering healthy vending to their consumers. With the healthy vending industry in such early stages it’s very important we push our message through and destigmatize vending machines as only distributing junk. She offers great points on ways to share your products positive message and connect with your surrounding community!
BY EMILY REFERMAT ON OCT 23, 2014
Positive press is something every small business owner should want. It does double duty bringing your business to the top-of-mind for area business partners and reaffirming the company’s commitment to those partners, as well as the community. And at times, positive press opportunities call you on the telephone and demand to be answered – such as a location calling to ask for more “healthy” products in the vending machine.
Using healthy vending to your advantage
Locations across the nation are focusing on wellness. Part of that is asking foodservice providers to assist in corporate wellness initiatives. As I routinely scour the world of online media to find news items related to the vending industry, I see these types of news items all the time such as this one about a La Crosse, WI, health clinic getting new vending fare from their vending provider. And personally, I think it’s a great idea. Wait – hear me out.
We have all heard the negative words our industry must endure from the media (yours truly excluded). Phrases like “junk food” and “wheel of death.” Well, if you get labeled a lemon, then it’s time to promote lemonade. What am I talking about? Quite simply, vending companies can attach their names to doing something good for the community while meeting the request for healthier products by the location.
Instead of fighting the request, find products that will meet the requirements (they are out there) and talk to the location about their goals. Perhaps a portion of the machine offering these products would suffice or ask if the location would be willing to supplement the cost of more expensive items in some way that would cover the decrease in revenue and/or, in the case of perishables with a short shelf life, shrinkage. Talk about your business case, bring reports and work to reach a middle ground with the location.
Then take your actions, and start crafting them into a positive story about your company. If you have a number of locations doing this, especially similar ones, it will be easier to write. Look for examples on the Internet if you get stuck. Once you have some notes, reach out to the media.
How to get your message out there
Local news stations and papers are your best bet for getting your news covered for several reasons. They are local, and therefore focus on issues closer to home and area-businesses. They also don’t have huge staffs or budgets allowing them to send reporters out to gather news, meaning they rely more heavily on tips than national newspapers.
It can be difficult to find the correct contact – look for the local news contact or one of the editors. Search the site or scroll to the bottom of the new sources’ Webpage for the contact us link. You might have to find the larger company that owns the TV news station for publication and then search its page for the “contact us” or feedback link, but it will be there. Once you find it, there should be a phone number and email.
And as I get many submissions, let me give you some pointers for busy news editors often under deadline. Many of us prefer email. We are writers, we like words. Plus, it gives us proper spelling of names and a reference to check back when details are questioned. Be clear, concise and don’t try too hard to sell us. Give us your spin for the story (ex. Local hospital gets healthy vending or thirty percent more workplaces are adding healthy items in the vending machines). Give a few facts/notes to support your ideas and offer to give them more information if they are interested in following up for a story.
Bottom line, associate your name with positive change, especially if you are being forced to change anyway. You don’t have to agree with it 100 percent, but having a voice and sharing your participation in wellness will do nothing but help your business. Plus, even if the local newspaper doesn’t choose to run a story involving healthy vending and your take on it, you don’t lose anything by trying.
Look forward to next time,
Craig Atkinson, Calgary, AB