Posted by: Kellie Lasack on December 22, 2021

Posted in: Newsletter

Provided by OBP Agency

For 14 years, the Deltapine New Product Evaluator (NPE) Summit has been the signature grower and news media engagement event for Deltapine brand cotton seed. During the event, news media have the unique opportunity to engage with many key growers in one location.

This event typically generates quality public relations (PR) coverage for the brand and helps to position and convey confidence in new product performance. News media have opportunities to interview NPE growers who evaluate and approve the performance of the new Deltapine cotton varieties. Due to the pandemic, however, the 2020 Deltapine NPE Summit evolved into a virtual event. There was much concern about transitioning from a traditional, well-attended, in-person event to a virtual event in terms of general grower attendance, as well as media engagement.

Background

Since 2008, the Deltapine NPE Summit program has become the industry’s premier cotton variety testing and commercialization program, involving more than 200 growers representing all growing areas of the Cotton Belt. These growers evaluate pre-commercial variety candidates on large-acre plots under their own management systems and field conditions. Feedback from NPE growers on the pre-commercial variety candidates help the Deltapine team determine which candidates to commercialize.

Each December, NPE growers are brought to a central location for the NPE Summit to learn which variety candidates are being named to the new class and listen to presentations on new technologies and agricultural practices. The location for this important and impactful event in 2020, however, was forced to change to home computers.

Virtual event

A great amount of work was put into creating an engaging agenda and portal for this event that would attract and retain our audience. The Osborn Barr Paramore (OBP) PR and Experiential teams planned and worked with the client to create an event experience that significantly exceeded expectations and objectives.

The summit began on Thursday night with a celebrity chef entertaining NPE growers and their spouses. All attendees to Thursday night’s cooking show received meal ingredients via mail prior to the event. The main business session was Friday morning and included the new variety launch news, a ThryvOn technology announcement and other agronomic presentations. Aside from being virtual in nature, the Friday session was structured much like a live summit, with the familiar Deltapine spokespersons delivering the big announcement about the new Deltapine Class of ’21 cotton varieties. Graphics were used to reinforce the information to the off-site audience and questions were asked via chat. The entire virtual event was structured similar to past in-person summits.

From a media standpoint, the goal has always been to attract at least six media outlets to the event and get at least two stories from each outlet. Previous in-person events offered media opportunities for more interviews and stories because of the number of growers and regional company agronomists present and easily available for interviews.

Unfortunately, going virtual in 2020 eliminated the opportunity for in-person interviews and additional PR coverage, so we adjusted our media objectives for the 2020 virtual event to the following:

  1. Secure at least 6 media to attend the virtual event.
  2. Pitch at least 4 non-attending outlets for stories.
  3. Focus on two primary topics for coverage: New Class of ’21 varieties and positioning of ThryvOn technology.

Real results

All cotton-focused media, instead of the traditional six for an in-person event, were invited with an agenda and link with password for the live virtual event. On the Friday prior to the event, a news release was issued to media announcing the Deltapine Class of ’21 cotton varieties and the offer to help assist with interviews. Following the event, media requests for interviews were managed via e-mail and phone over the next 10 days. Media who did not attend the virtual event were contacted about interview opportunities.

From a media perspective, the results exceeded our expectations. Seven media outlets attended the virtual event and one outlet covered it with two reporters. Follow-ups with non-attending media resulted in additional interviews on our primary topic objectives.

Result breakdown:

  • Seven outlets attended Deltapine 2020 Virtual NPE Summit
  • Five non-attending outlets provided coverage
  • Efforts resulted in 33 story placements across digital, print and radio
  • Total potential audience impressions = 1,024,001

Story samples:

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