Saturday, April 03, 2010

Ooh, a blogger junket! Or: how to do social media PR correctly

On Thursday, I wended my way down the coast on a sunny, windy day to the Fresh & Easy neighborhood market headquarters in El Segundo.

The Fresh & Easy folks are launching a new line of prepared meals called "Eat Well" and wanted to show them off to me and a bunch of other bloggers. About 25 of us arrived, awash in digital cameras, iPhones and social media credibility.

I have to say that Fresh & Easy gets social media PR the way few companies do. They tweet often, Facebook well and do fun events like a wine-taste-along on Twitter. They also did something amazing for the 20 or so bloggers who were invited to the HQ: they read our blogs.


Not just one post. No. These people aren't the type to address invitations to "Dear Mom Blogger." They took the time and sampled posts stretching back several months, so when we showed up on their doorstep, they knew who each of us were and what we were all about.

The Fresh and Easy people:

They have about 150 stores in California, Arizona and Nevada and are spreading faster than crabgrass in a summer lawn.

Their head of "product," John, is, despite his humble attitude, Kind of A Big Deal. He tossed out facts from all of our blogs as he spoke to us. Dang. I was impressed.

This is John:
John, who read all our blogs, poor man

Seeing fellow bloggers was great. One of my twitter faves,Sweatpants Mom was there and there were even some women who write a blog ALL about Fresh and Easy called The Temple of Fresh and Easy. Way to ensure an invite, ladies. Good work.

I also got to reconnect with Fresh and Easy spokescutie Stephanie, who I met when I covered a Fresh and Easy store opening for the local newspaper.

The Eat Well products we sampled were really, really good. Katie, the chef who creates them, can't remember her name - Kate? - the woman who magically scales up the recipes by a factor of 1,000 or more were there to explain their process to us.

As bloggers, we could relate to part of their jobs: you can never make everyone happy. If they make their food spicy, people complain that they can't eat it because it is too hot. If they leave the spice out, people say it is bland and boring. Sounds like our comments sections some days.

The meals are all low in fat, sodium and calories and have no trans-fats. They are also very pretty to look at. As they used to say in cooking school "You eat first with your eyes."

They'll be available in stores on April 7, 2010 and yeah, I plan to pick some up every once in a while.

I took the info booklet home to my mom and she immediately began picking out things she wanted to try, too - she was super curious about the mojito shrimp bowl. Since she and Dad eat many, many boxed frozen dinners, I was delighted to hear that she wants to try something fresher and healthier.

The big hit of the night was a spicy tuna sushi square that has a layer of spicy ahi, a layer of roasted edamame and a layer of brown rice. The teriyaki salmon meal also went over especially well.

Me, little Miss Vegetarian, loved the lemon cilantro hummus salad dressing. Super good, zippy and flavorful.

They also do a nice veg and hummus wrap that is healthy and tasty.

If their HQ were closer to home, I would be begging for a job, because it looks like a great company to work for, and you know how I love all things food and grocery.

Full disclosure: In addition to wining and dining us, at the end of the night, we got goodie bags with a bottle of wine, a canvas shopping bag and a store gift certificate.


Donna said...

You're making me hungry.

So glad we finally have a F&E up here in Northridge.

Anonymous said...

We're concerned that they're too proud of their corn-fed beef. We've been in contact with them through their FB page, and their twitter, and they've turned a cold shoulder. Any idea what that's about? Do you think it's possible to get them to carry organic, grass-fed beef?

Suebob said...

Daniel - As a longtime vegetarian, I would encourage you to abandon eating beef completely. That would solve the corn-fed vs. grass-fed problem.

OakMonster said...

I only get to meet you briefly. Thanks for mentioning us F&E-crazy women! :) (They had me at self check-out. Hahah!)

Oh, Stephanie the Spokecutie? That's totally awesome.

Anonymous said...

Suebob, HI!!! Funny thing, my mother and stepfather are vegetarians. I grew up with them and had no problem eating beef, (or any other meat). My need for the organic, grass fed, is purely for taste and humane treatment of the food EVERYONE eats. As of yet, with our push for Fresh and Easy, we've been deemed "irrelevant."

Lex - @laprimera said...

I seem to be one of the few unimpressed by the F & E. Went, saw, left never to return again.