CASE STUDY: A summer of bison, slow food and artisan cheese

Caption: FIGs Emily and Maddie with National Bison Association Director (and bison rancher himself), Dave Carter, rocking goofy Bison Hump Day sunglasses at the International Bison Conference (IBC) in Big Sky Montana, July 2017. 

How one nimble team engaged 125 media attendees at three events in one month to reach an audience of 417 million through 199 earned media placements.

THE CHALLENGE: Manage PR for three flagship, ‘good food’ events in July 2017: National Bison Association’s International Bison Conference 2017, Slow Food USA’s Slow Food Nations 2017 and American Cheese Society’s 34th Annual Conference ‘Cheese With Altitude’.

National Bison Association, Slow Food USA and American Cheese Society all entrusted FIG to handle PR for their respective conferences, each a milestone event in its sector. The challenge?

How to engage top-tier national and local media attendees, and secure excellent coverage for three distinct foodie events in a single month?


Caption: EatingWell Magazine Editor in Chief Jessie Price speaks to a packed crowd at the IBC 2017 ‘Beyond the Burger’ Culinary Demo featuring award-winning butcher and author Adam Danforth and Chef Kyle Mendenhall, executive chef at ARCANA Restaurant.

THE SOLUTION: A team of FIGs ready to disrupt, inspire and just plain have a good time.

We tackled every scenario from a conference full of bison ranchers wearing custom ‘Bison Hump Day’ sunglasses, to a local broadcast bonanza at a professional cheese carving competition, to a lively media-only Q&A moderated by the New York Times that featured chef Alice Waters, “Gangster Gardner” Ron Finley and good-vibes musician/environmental activist Jack Johnson.

Caption: Emily and Maddie roam the range just feet from the herds at Ted Turner’s flagship bison ranch, The Flying D, in Big Sky, Montana. 

INTERNATIONAL BISON CONFERENCE 2017: IBC 2017, “Big Skies, Bright Horizons,” brought together more than 650 bison ranchers and enthusiasts for the 5th-ever IBC. The event took place over the Fourth of July week in beautiful Big Sky, Montana –one hour outside of Yellowstone National Park and just 30 minutes from Ted Turner’s famed Flying D bison ranch, where participants and media gathered on the final day of the conference amongst the majestic roaming herds.

With a goal to grow bison herds to one million strong by 2025, the NBA and its partners launched two major initiatives at IBC 2017: Bison 1 Million, and Bison Hump Day –with all in attendance donning ‘Bison Hump Day’ sunglasses for a bit of goofy fun to kick off this national campaign.

Caption: Slow Food Nations brought more than 25,000 visitors, 305 speakers, 155 different events and 70 exhibitors to Denver for a weekend of eating, celebrating and discussing food and food issues.

SLOW FOOD NATIONS 2017: Approaching Slow Food Nations (SFN) 2017, its mighty message remained as enticing as ever for today’s food eaters, cooks, producers and pundits: “Good, clean, and fair food for all.” FIG embraced nimble and swift action from Feb. to July to win PR success for SFN, securing top-tier food, lifestyle and environmental media as participants and attendees.

A ‘lack of preciousness’ achieved through generous servings of free events, tastings and demos, helped to introduce a refreshing next chapter for Slow Food. FIG was excited and honored to be Slow Food’s PR partner for this flagship U.S. event, now a part of Slow Food’s clever and flavorful history.

Caption: The California cheesemaker contingent cheering winners at ACS’s Annual Judging & Competition awards ceremony.

AMERICAN CHEESE SOCIETY’S 34TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE: ‘Cheese With Altitude’ brought together 1,300 attendees in celebration of the artisan cheese industry. From a cheese carving competition to a public Festival of Cheese offering more than 2,000 delicious varieties of American artisan cheese, this event cemented Denver as a key hub in the cheese world.

Caption: Handwritten invitations and Slow Food swag sent to national VIP media. 

FIG INSIGHTS: Engage media with a personal touch. Our motto is relationships, relationships, relationships – and we mean it. Over 25 years’ experience, FIG has built robust relationships with a wide range of national, local, consumer and trade media.

From the beginning to end of each event, we pursue, nurture and leverage new and existing connections with journalists and influencers on behalf of our clients, securing attendees at events from top tier outlets including New York Times, NPR, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Bloomberg, Mother Jones and more.

Caption: Alice Waters and Kim Severson: It’s a good day for the good food movement when these two women are in Denver together – chef, author and food activist Alice Waters, and New York Times food correspondent Kim Severson.

Keep a pulse on current events and media’s interests. Knowing when to pitch the right story, how to share information and to which journalist allows FIG to meet the media where they already are, acting as a resource and a guide for events rather than just showing up with a ‘sales pitch’.

Our media savvy results in quality national and local coverage, enables FIG to secure A-level journalists from outlets like New York Times and EatingWell to moderate event sessions, providing an extra layer of value to our clients.

Caption: Colorado foodie influencers got the chance to taste test artisan cheeses with judges from ACS’s Annual Judging & Competition.

Harness influencers. We utilize FIG’s Confluence Network of more than 49k+ national and local influencers to geo- and demographically target key contacts. Planning VIP events specialized for influencers cements awareness and nurtures relationships with audiences, as well as generating digital and social content.

Caption: Em and Syl: Emily and Sylvia rejoicing in the wide open, blue sky country and majestic bison at Ted Turner’s Flying D Ranch.

Teamship is crucial. Three major events in one month is no joke. As a boutique agency, we communicate closely with our clients and with each other to provide a high standard of on and off-site support before, during and after each event.

PR is a nimble industry, and we take full advantage of both proactive planning and real-time assessment to ensure excellence in our craft.

Caption: Professional cheesemongers flexed their artistic skills at ACS & Whole Foods Market’s cheese carving competition.

ROI and reporting. We recognize the importance of accurately measuring a true return on investment when it comes to event PR.

We provide each client full results coverage tracking, analytics and reporting with key metrics, graphic comparisons and qualitative insights to help drive reflection and learnings for the future.

Caption: Roaming with the herd at IBC 2017 in Big Sky, Montana.

FIG can unleash your brand’s true story. 

We offer 20+ years of successful, impactful and award-winning storytelling through mission-driven PR & branding. Email or call 303.449.2108 to learn more.