top of page


  • Communicating Food Safety: A Part of Building and Protecting Your Brand
    Nothing is more aggravating or concerning than to see misinformation spread about food safety protocols and technology. Distorted information can lead to serious health consequences and bad decisions. Equally concerning is that your science, your product, your brand, and your reputation are at risk of being compromised as well. Carl Sagan wrote in the ‘The Skeptical Inquirer ‘ 30 years ago that: “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.” The digital media environment is a constantly changing landscape of conversations and iterative posts from self-appointed pundits who are neither experts nor authorities. Protecting IP and scientific correctness should be a top priority. But whose job is it? Yours. Truth is fundamental to building trust. By making science [truth] more accessible, it becomes more credible in the eyes of constituents, increasing trust in the innovations, protocols, processes, and products it supports. Truth is fundamental to building trust. By making science [truth] more accessible, it becomes more credible in the eyes of constituents, increasing trust in the innovations, protocols, processes, and products it supports. “Trust is everything, everywhere, all at once. Repeated research shows that the leadership on which trust depends needs to be delivered at every level of the organization and at every touchpoint with your key audiences,” cites the publication Trust, Risk and Resilience. Given the plethora of media platforms and channels, communication today requires a shift in both what and how we communicate to break through the clutter. While facts are essential, more facts simply can’t compete in this noisy universe. Breaking through the clutter requires a more nuanced approach. Anthony Dudo, associate professor of marketing and public relations at the University of Texas at Austin said that “All communication is not effective.” “Raising the volume, communicating more, does not equal communicating more effectively. And that brings us back to scientists being scientific about communication. They need to] be thoughtful and apply more rigor.” Your mission is straightforward. Apply the same rigor you bring to the science of food to the science of communication, using a data-based, repeatable process for getting the right message out to the media ecosystem. While you can’t control outcomes, you can own the inputs designed to reach the right people in the right ways. It starts with adopting the 3Ms of effective communication — Monitor, Manage, and Mobilize. Monitor content/information/conversation platforms. Put a digital monitoring platform in place that sweeps online conversations and content for specific references to your business, technology, and the conversations around that work. The more robust the monitoring (frequency, scale, reach) the more it will cost. These systems identify and analyze who, how, and where information is being shared around your topics of concern. Such programs provide insights and opportunities to selectively engage with key audiences that have shared interests. They also help identify potential allies willing to learn more about your approach and information. Many companies consider this investment a ‘risk management’ expense and use it to flag crisis situations and issues before they escalate. Manage your story and your brand. Sharpen and refresh your story. Is it clear, crisp, simple, and easy to insert into a wide variety of conversations? Take time to identify all the conversations that could injure your brand or technology. Then, build positive, proactive content around topics that will attract media allies to follow and share your thoughts. Consistency and frequency are critical to ensure message uptake and impact. A generally accepted rule of thumb holds that it takes at least seven exposures to a message for it to stick. Mobilize content sharing on a routine basis to cultivate allies. Make a habit of populating social platforms and engaging in social conversations about science and food safety topics. Take part in conversations daily with people who care about what you care about. Invite them to learn more. Create opportunities to let them gain deeper insights into your work through controlled content like webinars, presentations, or downloadable studies. Most importantly, build, train, arm, and activate an internal thought leadership team. Integrate a communication goal into team member KPIs. Identify the top themes or topics that relate to the efficacy or value of your brand. Schedule each person on that team to write and post 2-3, short 50-word commentaries (with a graphic image) on their social feeds throughout the year. Encourage each leader to build a short presentation on the topic they have identified for live events or for your own web-hosted events. Promote all commentaries, posts, and speaking engagements across all social platforms. Encourage and thank your friends for sharing/commenting and amplifying your content routinely; and take time to help them out with a friendly post or retweet that helps their business interests. Protecting your IP and product is now a team sport. Every member of your business team needs to be a brand ambassador capable of defending and promoting the science and the product. All you need is a good game plan and consistent execution to educate and build a loyal fan base. About the Author: Linda Eatherton, president, and founder of Eatherton Consulting, designs leading-edge communications strategies that help food innovators and renovators build and protect their brands, businesses, and IP. Her entire career has been spent in service to the food and agricultural space. Prior to consulting, she led the highly regarded global F&B practice at Ketchum, where she directed more than 300 individuals worldwide, solving reputational issues, marketing branded products and ingredients, and strengthening stakeholder relationships for both supply and value chain organizations.
  • Communication: Your Cyber Crime Fighting Secret - Global Food Safety Resource
    Cybercrime threatens every operating organization. Data thieves and trolls lurk in cyberspace waiting for an opportunity to attack, and pose the type of threat that, from a food safety perspective, can be exceptionally damaging. Cyber attacks deploy faster, more widely and more credibly than any threat ever experienced by businesses before. The PWC Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2022, a study conducted among 1,296 executives in 53 countries and regions, indicates more than half of respondents experienced fraud in the past two years – the highest level reported in the survey’s 20-year history. Half of those businesses reporting cybercrimes lost one million dollars or more as a result of the attack. In reality, we know that billions of dollars have been lost by corporations unwilling to share their painful experiences. Forbes estimates that ransomware costs alone will reach $265 billion by 2031. Cybercrime and data breaches are no longer exceptional events. Every business must prepare for the eventuality that it will experience tech disruption and damage at some point. The more we rely upon technology, the more risk it presents. In the case of cybercrime, it’s now a matter of when, not if, your company will be targeted. As with any crisis, communication plays a critical role in both preparing for and managing through the worst of times. Communication is also the foundation upon which we build valued relationships. Cybercrime attacks those critical relationships, making it one of the most deadly threats to the corporate brand. The massive disruption in communication during and long after the digital event can break the bond of trust between your brand and your stakeholders. A cyberbreach is one of the few crisis situations that prompts a total information blackout between the organization, and every person and company it deals with. Servers are compromised. Files are seized. Email accounts are frozen. All social and digital communication channels are rendered temporarily useless. In the darkness, fear and speculation take hold. Trust, once broken, is exceptionally difficult to repair. For this reason, communications professionals need to take a central role within senior management, risk management and crisis planning. You can reboot systems, but you can’t reboot trust overnight. This is especially true when it comes to protecting the science, technology and information others rely upon to support human health. Some companies view communications as the ‘clean-up crew’ responsible for damage control. This outdated thinking can hamper recovery as it relates to cybersecurity issues. No PR campaign can reverse the reputational damage that has been done. A company’s actions are the most effective means to rebuild trust. Communication provides the vehicle for sharing those actions with stakeholders Today’s communications professionals should be viewed as the ‘keepers of confidence’ instead of the ‘clean-up squad’. Communicators can deploy an arsenal of tools to build, restore and protect stakeholder confidence. There are proactive steps communicators can take to combat cybersecurity challenges: Elevate and Merge Risk Management and Crisis Planning Cybersecurity issues come in a wide variety of situations from malware to ransomware. All potential cybersecurity situations must be planned for with test scenarios run in advance. No two are alike. A ransomware situation instantly puts your CEO into the position of deciding how and what you will pay to retrieve your data. Plan for the Worst and Simulate Responses The opportunity for and incidence of cyber attacks escalated during the pandemic resulting from the remote workforce. “Lack of proximity, working from home, remote systems gave them room to move in,” said Reena Bajowala, partner and cybersecurity lawyer with Ice Miller Law Firm in a podcast. “And, the professionalization of ransomware has increased into a bona fide business where ‘experts’ develop malware variants to lock up data; perfecting and customizing it each time.” Ensure that top leadership and the heads of all key internal functions plan and drill with external cyber and data security lawyers, forensic consultants and systems experts to prepare for potential attacks. Practice full-on cyberattack simulations to ensure the organization can activate contingency plans immediately, and employees have clarity on their roles within the process. Stress test back-up systems to determine how much data can be recovered and how fast. Align and Design to Disclose Because trust and human safety hang in the balance, it is critical that the organization aligns in advance on who will communicate with which audiences, in what order, and at what intervals. There are a wide range of legal and contractual terms that dictate specific disclosures; each with different requirements. Disclosure is generally non-negotiable and predetermined. These should be summarized in advance as part of the core crisis response plan. “There are 54 data breach notification laws in this country alone and they all have … different tests for when they trigger notification. Most have some variation of ‘notify as expediently as possible,’ says Bajowala. Study after study, situation after situation, tell you it is best to disclose ‘as a precaution’ even before you know who and what is affected. The alert, while concerning, allows your stakeholders to take security precautions and heighten monitoring. Nothing is more damaging to relationships and trust than to receive a notification six months after the fact. Creating multiple stand-by statements to alert and update key audiences is time well-spent in planning. This can’t be left to the last minute when seconds count and tensions are high. Remember, email accounts may all be tied up indefinitely. In that event, how will you reach employees, customers, or key partners to give them a head’s up? Where is contact information stored? Is it current? How will you monitor what is being shared on social media? In the mainstream press? No amount of goodwill can override a breach if you have no viable communication channels available to share your story. Monitor and Manage Always be on high alert. Your data surveillance systems should be working as hard as your digital communications surveillance systems. Track what people are saying on various media platforms. Be uber-aware of conversations that could be early warning signals you are about to be attacked. For example, when JBS, an international meat processing company, was held hostage by cyberattackers this news should have alerted other meat and fresh food processors that they were possibly only minutes away from a similar attack. Creating and maintaining trust is the most crucial part of our work to promote and support health and human safety. While many attempts to dismantle that trust are inevitable, communicators can insulate the brand and the business from irreparable breaks of confidence through preparation and proactive measures. About the Author: Linda Eatherton, president, and founder of Eatherton Consulting, designs leading-edge communications strategies that help food innovators and renovators build and protect their brands, businesses and IP. Her entire career has been spent in service to the food and agricultural space. Prior to consulting, she led the highly regarded global F&B practice at Ketchum, where she directed more than 300 individuals worldwide, solving reputational issues, marketing branded products and ingredients and strengthening stakeholder relationships for both supply and value chain organizations.
  • Transparency Critical for the Future of Food
    Read the full article at
  • Consumers ‘Need to Know’ When it Comes to Food Technologies
    Read the full article at
  • Technology Building a Foundation for Greater Trust in Food
    Read the Full article at
  • The New Food: Meet the Startups Racing to Reinvent the Meal
    Read the full article at
  • Ketchum global food and beverage lead Linda Eatherton leaves to start consultancy
    CHICAGO: Linda Eatherton, a Ketchum partner and director of its global food and nutrition practice, has left the firm to start her own consultancy. Eatherton said she departed the Omnicom Group agency this month to launch Eatherton Consulting. In an emailed announcement, she said her firm will focus on companies, organizations and projects that affect society’s food supply and value chain. "About a year ago, with support and permission from [Ketchum president and CEO] Barri Rafferty, I started to take on a little bit of my own work and began exploring what was next," Eatherton said. "That has proven to be very valuable and enlightening and gave me some perspective on what I can do to make this industry better. At the first of the year, I made it official, and then we announced it on January 17." She added that "to be part of an agency or any firm for 20 years, I’m a bit of a unicorn and a blessed one at that." Eatherton said she will work on issues related to stakeholder trust, awareness of food tech, thought leadership on food access, sustainability and soil preservation issues and corporate narratives. "My focus will be to identify the organizations, brands, businesses and even agencies that are in a position to revolutionize and advance the food industry or the way it’s supported," she said. "I have such deep passion for the industry, and I will be very choice-full with what I do next and with whom I do it. I want to focus in on where I can make the most impact." She declined to name clients but said she expects to make announcements about assignments within the next quarter. Eatherton added that she will work with Ketchum to support "select clients and projects on an as-needed basis." She is not planning to open an office or hire employees. "Under [Eatherton’s] leadership of our global food and beverage practice, we saw tremendous growth in the food space and the addition of marquee clients to our roster who wanted to work with a firm that truly understood their business from the inside out," Rafferty said. "In that role and her most recent role, she drove innovation, insights and thought leadership that elevated our firm and inspired clients on a global scale. We look forward to a continued partnership with Linda on client assignments in the future, and we wish her great success as she pursues these new passion projects." A Ketchum spokesperson said the agency is not planning to fill Eatherton’s former role. Eatherton’s new role marks the second time she has worked as a consultant. Before joining Ketchum in 2001, she worked independently for a year, running Eatherton Consulting and was VP of public and industry relations for the American Dairy Association for five years. In December, the market leader for Ketchum’s Washington, DC, office KayAnn Schoeneman, left to become SVP and director of corporate and public affairs at boutique communications firm Curley Company. Ketchum’s revenue was down 1% in 2019 to $512 million, according to PRWeek’s Agency Business Report. Omnicom Group’s PR firms posted a Q3 2019 organic revenue decrease of 3.8% to $337.2 million. The holding company also owns FleishmanHillard, Marina Maher Communications and Porter Novelli, among others.
  • Industry News In Brief (January 27, 2020)"
    NEW YORK — Linda Eatherton (pictured), who led Ketchum’s food & beverage practice for 20 years, has left the agency to start her own consultancy dedicated to helping food and agricultural firms accelerate innovation, transformation and positive social impact. Eatherton Consulting will focus on companies, organizations and projects dedicated and designed to have a profound and powerful impact on society and the future of our food supply and value chain. DETROIT — Lambert & Co. has acquired Casteel Schoenborn Investor Relations & Corporate Communications. The transaction advances Lambert’s strategy to grow its integrated investor relations and public relations offerings for emerging and established market leaders through organic growth, acquisitions and innovation. NEW YORK — Wise PR and Zimmerman Strategic Communications have struck a partnership to boost capabilities. As part of this new arrangement, Robert Zimmerman will serve as Wise PR global managing director and chief of staff, and be responsible for overseeing agency staff, operations, and client relations while expanding and strengthening Wise PR’s sports, media, entertainment and crisis/reputation management capabilities. LOS ANGELES — The Hispanic Public Relations Association-Los Angeles chapter has announced its 2020 board of directors and executive leadership team with PR veteran Stephen Chavez of ChavezPR remaining at the helm as president for a third consecutive year. Other officers include VP/president elect Cynthia Zavala of mitú; treasurer Elia Verduzco of Lagrant Communications; and secretary Emily Reza of the Beverly Hills Sports Council. AUSTIN — The agency Pen & Tell Us has rebranded as Big Thirst Marketing. The comprehensive rebrand further sharpens the agency’s focus on providing strategic marketing services to help clients in the beverage industry grow to the next level.
  • Shift Happened. Now what?
    Read the full article at
  • Beating Mr Covid
    Read the full article at the German Retail Blog


bottom of page