Ringing up success with Kroger Richmond

We’ve talked a lot lately about the Owned part of the equation of the EOP model, but the E (earned) is still very much a part of our day-to-day here at Hodges, and we wanted to take a second to reflect on some of the recent media relations work happening at THP.

For seven years, The Hodges Partnership has been Kroger Mid-Atlantic’s public relations agency for the Richmond and Hampton Roads markets. Hodges works with Kroger to tell its many stories, maintain its tone of voice in the media, stay on brand, share insights on the market and connect with nonprofits and partners that align with Kroger’s core values. In fact, we recently aided Kroger in navigating a  partnership with Ukrop’s, a household brand that incites nostalgia and comfort throughout the Richmond region.

In early 2017, Kroger announced that it would soon carry as many as 400 of Ukrop’s products in each of its 18 Richmond-area stores – and customers rejoiced. For years, Kroger store managers fielded requests from customers asking (begging might be more accurate) to find a way to carry Ukrop’s products in Kroger stores. The feedback was passed along but, due to exclusivity negotiations, Ukrop’s products couldn’t be sold in other grocery stores. When the time was right, Kroger stepped in and seized the opportunity to give its customers what they long wanted – which is apparently easy access to Rainbow Cookies, chocolate pie and White House Rolls.

Before announcing to the public, we worked with Kroger and Ukrop’s to formulate a strategy that was mutually beneficial and celebrated the union of the two brands. With Kroger and Ukrop’s having been long-time partners and, at one time competitors, the messaging focused on the excitement about working together and giving customers what they want.

The media strategy resulted in extensive coverage for Ukrop’s and Kroger and included a special event for friends, family and media to celebrate the day the advertising campaign launched and Richmond shoppers were able to purchase some of their favorite local foods. Coverage ran in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Style Weekly, NBC 12 and CBS 6.

But it doesn’t end here in the EOP model. While earned media was the goal of the strategy, there’s an opportunity to make coverage work even harder for brands by leveraging the placements on your owned content platforms. We closed the EOP loop here by sharing photos of the event on our social media channels as well as promoting the placements via our monthly newsletter, and of course this very blog post that you’re reading.

Lindsay O'Bar

Lindsay’s work focuses on community relations, internal communications and media relations for companies like Kroger, Virginia’s Community Colleges and the Virginia Department of Transportation. By marrying research and strategic thinking, she helps clients thoughtfully engage audiences and the community while driving business results.

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