Label PRomotion | When Labels Are the Story

Labels are news. To check out this claim, perform a Google News search around a simple search term, such as “PR about labels,” and see what crops up over the first few pages. And consider creating a Google Alert to pull in relevant stories. (Be aware that proactive searches often will uncover articles that don’t get on the Alert radar, so doing both likely will create the most productive results.)

Articles generating news about everything from truth in labeling to crowdsourcing can spur valuable label-oriented promotion and PR ideas that can help drive marketing efforts.

Following are a few examples of how information in recent articles can help trigger ideas for product manufacturers:

1. An AP report points out, “A nutritional rating system using gold stars affixed to price labels on grocery store shelves appears to have shifted buying habits, potentially providing another tool to educate consumers on how to eat healthier, according to a new study… The independent study examining a proprietary gold star system used in Maine-based Hannaford Supermarkets suggested it steered shoppers away from items with no stars toward healthier foods that merited gold stars.”

PR takeaway: Create and promote a “lean and green” seal that goes on a particular manufacturer’s food/beverage products. This presents the opportunity to explain what the seal means. “Lean” can refer to specific low-calorie/low-carb/low-fat, etc. qualifications. Or, to be more esoteric, the term could apply to gluten/wheat-free products that don’t promote weight gain (along the lines of the “wheat belly” school of thought that discusses the girth-growing downsides of many foods in today’s food supply). “Green” can apply to anything from non-GMO to environmentally friendly practices that produced the product.

2. An article on addresses a Yuba City, CA, student’s letter about the need to end deceptive food labeling: “As you walk down the aisles of grocery stores, it is difficult to not have your attention drawn to the multitude of eye-catching labels and advertisements included on the packaging of most food products…Your eyes are met with appealing phrases, such as ‘Made with Real Fruit’ and ‘100 percent Natural,’ assuring you that the box of cereal you just grabbed will give your diet some additive health benefits…Don't be deceived: These products may not be as healthy as you thought. False advertising by food companies is creating misconceptions about the food we eat…”

PR takeaway: Presuming a product can stand up to lofty nutritional, quality, or other heady standards, promote the claim on product labels with a statement like, “REALLY real. Challenge us to prove it.” Build a promotion around justification/verification of claims made, using the opportunity to drive home their validity. In contrast to the relatively flimsy claims referenced above, this can really position a product in the rarified air of walking its walk—and can engender some positive press to counter the glut of negative reports in the marketplace.

3. This just in from down under: An article on New Zealand’s points out, “Marketing slogans, health claims, and nutrition labels are a permanent fixture on any food package, but sometimes more information leads to more confusion, and potentially a false sense of the healthiness of a product. As a general rule, it's best to ignore the marketing and health promises on the front of the pack and head straight to the ingredient list and nutrition information panel on the side or back."

PR takeaway: Create a label that puts the ingredient list on the front and continues it on the back. Properly done, this can be a graphically impactful label that sets a particular product apart from others on the shelf. The “back story” is about how the manufacturer is invested in getting to the heart of what’s real in the product, sparing the consumer a bunch of hype and possibly untrue claims. As with the example above, the refreshing truthfulness can spur laudatory social media conversations and prove fodder for mainstream media as well. Next time the words “PR” and “labels” arise in the same conversation, it may be time to go do some Googling.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is president of Lusky Enterprises Inc., a marketing communications and content development company. Since 2008, he has worked with Lightning Labels, a Denver-based all-digital custom label printing company, as a content developer specializing in expert advice articles. Lusky presents common-sense ideas grounded in doing what’s real and right for managing and enhancing public image.

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