California Prune Board’s adaptations to virtual events

The company’s marketing team spans three continents, which means it has long had to coordinate remotely

The California Prune Board’s global marketing teams has shared some of its adaptations to the proliferation of virtual events during the global lockdown.

Given they are located across three continents, Esther Ritson-Elliott, Director of International Marketing and Communications for the California Prune Board (CPB), has always coordinated her teams remotely. Arranging virtual attendance at exhibitions however is a first.

“Over the last 12 months we have pivoted our approach and how we network with the trade,” said Esther. “Previously we would have attended events like the INC Congress and Food Matters Live in person, arranging face-to-face meetings with food industry professionals and showcasing the versatility of our premium prunes with chef demonstrations and sampling. Now we are tapping into the use of virtual exhibition stands to highlight the merits of California Prunes.”

The CPB’s participation in the International Nut & Dried Fruit Council (INC) conference last November was completely virtual. The Board hosted a virtual 3D exhibition area, in which visitors could browse and connect online with CPB representatives and shared a California Prune grower and handler round table discussion via an online meeting platform.

Recently the California Prune Board held a virtual trade and media seminar for over 60 participants from across China and Hong Kong. Following the postponement of a planned grower visit to China last year, the Board treated the event as an opportunity to build and develop relationships with buyers by highlighting the California Prune industry and the benefits of prunes for Chinese consumers.

Looking ahead to 2021, Esther believes some of these adaptations the industry has made will remain: “I think it will take a year or so before ‘in-person’ trade shows return to the same scale they were pre-pandemic, and we are expecting to use virtual platforms into 2022. Even then there are certainly elements that will become the norm, with many companies globally acknowledging the business and personal benefits of allowing employees the flexibility of working from home and the virtual meeting culture remaining as a way to reduce time spent travelling.”

She added: “Though the pandemic has presented challenges in terms of how we market and promote California Prunes, we have worked extremely hard with the International teams to overcome them and have seen exports increase. We’re looking forward to finding even more creative ways to showcase California Prunes at future events.”

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