Lost in the Supermarket

Honing Media Skills for Retail RDs

May 20, 2020 SupermarketGuru
Lost in the Supermarket
Honing Media Skills for Retail RDs
Chapters
Lost in the Supermarket
Honing Media Skills for Retail RDs
May 20, 2020
SupermarketGuru

Speaker:​ Mary Ellen Phipps
Mary Ellen is the founder and registered dietitian behind Milk and Honey Nutrition. Mary Ellen has been living with type 1 diabetes since she was five years old, and she knows firsthand the impact food has on how we think, feel, act and move. She strives to make food easy and fun again for people with type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune conditions; and uses both her professional expertise and personal experience to reduce stress and fear around food, and help people find joy in the kitchen again. Mary Ellen is also a contributing writer, recipe developer and content expert for several leading health and wellness organizations. And you can find her frequently on local Houston-area TV stations educating audiences on food, nutrition, and joyful eating.

Overview:

In this episode, Phil interviews media expert, Mary Ellen Phipps, MS, RDN of @milknhoneynutrition. They give expert advice for retail RDs on how to improve their on-camera media skills. You’ll learn how to pitch stations for tv segments, best practices for tv, improving on your on screen presence and message, plus how to build an audience, and how to best represent brands in your live partnerships. Today’s episode is sponsored by Simple Mills.

Show Notes Transcript

Speaker:​ Mary Ellen Phipps
Mary Ellen is the founder and registered dietitian behind Milk and Honey Nutrition. Mary Ellen has been living with type 1 diabetes since she was five years old, and she knows firsthand the impact food has on how we think, feel, act and move. She strives to make food easy and fun again for people with type 1 diabetes and other autoimmune conditions; and uses both her professional expertise and personal experience to reduce stress and fear around food, and help people find joy in the kitchen again. Mary Ellen is also a contributing writer, recipe developer and content expert for several leading health and wellness organizations. And you can find her frequently on local Houston-area TV stations educating audiences on food, nutrition, and joyful eating.

Overview:

In this episode, Phil interviews media expert, Mary Ellen Phipps, MS, RDN of @milknhoneynutrition. They give expert advice for retail RDs on how to improve their on-camera media skills. You’ll learn how to pitch stations for tv segments, best practices for tv, improving on your on screen presence and message, plus how to build an audience, and how to best represent brands in your live partnerships. Today’s episode is sponsored by Simple Mills.

Phil:

Weclom to this special edition of Lost in the Supermarket. Today it's all about honing media skills for retail RD's. My guest is Mary Ellen Phillips. She's the founder and registered dietician behind milk and honey nutrition. Mary Ellen has been living with type one diabetes since she was five years old and she knows firsthand the impact that food has on how we think, feel, act, and move. And she also knows how to communicate it. She's a contributing writer, recipe developer and content expert for several leading health and wellness organizations and gives expert advice for retail RD's on how to improve their on-camera media skills. Mary Ellen, welcome to lost in the supermarket.

Mary Ellen:

Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Phil:

So today, more than ever in the wake of covert 19 I'm seeing more retail RDS being called on to be the spokesperson to translate the science to both shoppers and to their C-suite. So I guess the first question that I have for you, how important is it for retail RDS to understand the media?

Mary Ellen:

I think it's really important that they understand the media because it gives them a unique opportunity to get in front of their entire market. And when you can get a segment on a local TV station or maybe even a broader area, you're really kind of capturing that audience to give them a reason to come to your store. And what we often forget too is we live in a day and age of social media, but we forget about the power of traditional TV media as well. It's still, I firmly believe it's still trumps any social media coverage anytime.

Phil:

So I agree with you. How do you get on local TV?

Mary Ellen:

Oh, so there's a number of ways and I think the ways that I might've gotten on TV might differ slightly for retail RDS, but we can definitely use the same strategies. Um, TV producers are looking for unique segment ideas. A lot of stations, at least here in the Houston area, are now looking for segments that they can also duplicate as a blog post on their website. So the perk for a retail RD would be, not only do you get the topic and your store on the news, but you also get permanent links on the station's website in the form of the blog post. So it's by getting to know those station producers and pitching that way, maybe you've got a special coming up in the store to feature a certain brand or a certain type of produce and you want to, you know, do a fun, like three ways to use XYZ. There's a whole host of ways, but you need to have some unique topic ideas to kind of give the producer to work with.

Phil:

So how do you get them to pay attention to you? I mean they're, they're getting pitched by everybody, whether they be a retail RD, whether they be just a layman, everybody wants to be on TV. To your point, you know, how do you through the clutter to attract their attention and have them book you.

Mary Ellen:

So what a lot of people don't realize is TV stations are actually looking to get into grocery stores to film. But it can kind of be tricky because they don't have permission to just walk right in. So one thing that I found in different relationships I have with stores around the area is if they know I'm the in for them and it would be the same for a retail RD, they might be more than happy to come into your store. They just need some ideas on what they want to, what different topics they want you to talk about. Um, and again, if you're pitching unique ideas as well, uh, they're going to be a lot more keen than people think to just come into your store and get to film these unique segments.

Phil:

That's a great point. What, what mistakes, when you look at other RDS on the air, on camera, um, what makes you cringe and you go, Oh, I wish that person would have talked to me beforehand and they wouldn't have done this.

Mary Ellen:

Yeah. So I think there's, there's a number of things, but these kind of go back to basic media skills. And the first thing would be interrupting the host. Uh, so I do a lot of live TV and I just cringe when I see people like cutting a host off or you know, maybe not really answering their question or something like that. So you kind of have to follow the lead of the host and it actually makes it easier when you do that and just defer to them because they're the one guiding the segment and they should be. So number one, don't interrupt them. And two, when you're giving your answers, you need to remember whether it's a tape segment or a live segment. Don't just don't be awkward I guess is the best way to put it. Like you're having a conversation, I get it.

Mary Ellen:

The cameras can, may make you nervous or you're not sure what to do with your hands or whatever. Uh, but odds are you feel way more uncomfortable and awkward than you actually appear. So the key is to just keep in mind that you're having a conversation and your goal is to communicate about the brand. You want to talk about where the store you want to talk about. And so just be conversational. And then I think the other thing is going off script. Just the third thing was don't go off script. If they've given you things they want you to talk about, make sure you stay with that.

Phil:

You know, I think it's easy to say, here's some tips, but let's say somebody has been doing this for awhile, they keep on making mistakes. Are there any tips that you could offer them on how to get better?

Mary Ellen:

Yeah, I think film yourself, if you're not already doing that practice in front of your mirror at home, submit and watch it back. Uh, that's kind of, a lot of us will cringe at ourselves when we do that. But it's a great training exercise to see, you know, maybe you're talking too fast. That's something I do as you probably can tell as you hear me talking, but maybe talking too fast or maybe putting in those little filler words, um, or like, or whatever those may be. And then other things that people might do is if you play with your hair, things like that. So filming yourself as kind of in my mind has always been the catch all of you really kind of see everything that you wish you weren't doing

Phil:

and a great basic foundation that if you can get in front of yourself for your iPhone and film yourself and get really good at it, you're going to build up your own self confidence as well.

Mary Ellen:

Correct. And it just, yeah, it just gives you the courage to do it once you get to the TV station.

Phil:

One of the things that I hear a lot about and, and being, doing what I've been doing for as long as I have and being quoted, whether it's on TV or newspapers, magazines, even on the web, you know, the whole idea of a soundbite that you can be very pithy and you know, that becomes something that you know, they use over and over and over again. How does somebody train themselves to think in terms of soundbites yet alone? Talk in terms of it.

Mary Ellen:

Oh, memorization is key because you have to, these may sound like off the cuff things that people say all the time, but these media dietitians, they have these things down Pat and because you want to say things that people will remember you for, you want it to be easily recalled in their memory. And I think the same is true for retail or DS. Whether you have a store slogan or you have sayings that you put up around your store for different areas and different types of food, you need to have these little pieces of information ready to go that people can remember whether it's health related or brand related, but just memorizing them. I think that's the first step.

Phil:

Give me an example. What's a great sound bite for you?

Mary Ellen:

Uh, for me, so, uh, just my personal one as I'm Marilyn FIPs, the founder of milk and honey nutrition where I use fat, fiber and protein to balance blood sugars. And like when people ask me what I do, that's what I say. So anytime I go on air and they welcome me, I, that's what I say right off the bat. And so I want them to remember me as the fat fiber and protein girl. And so it's easy for people to recall.

Phil:

So let's say we're talking about a particular product in the supermarket, a particular brand. Give me a soundbite example for a brand.

Mary Ellen:

Okay, so a simple mills is a brand I've worked with a lot and love their products and they're known for the fact that they're, you know, gluten free, dairy free, but they don't necessarily brand themselves on a certain diet type. And so you can say like healthy living for less or you know, classic food without the junk. And I'm sure they have their own in house soundbites that they use as well, but gluten-free snacking options, different things like that. But you definitely want to keep it to about 10 words or less.

Phil:

Okay. I'm a producer of booked you for a live TV segment. How are you going to prepare before you come on?

Mary Ellen:

So in my experience, what I do is I essentially write up my segment. Like I would have blog posts. We typically have, you know, you may be asked to do anywhere from two to three topics or demos or whatever it may be within a segment. And so you have your opener with a host, you have a little bit of discussion and then you go into your demonstration. And demonstration can be an actual cooking demo or it can be you explaining different things. But I prepare by writing all of that out. I work on my script, I memorize what I want to say. I make sure I have all the products I need and all the food because you will have to bring all of that to the station or whatever location you're filming at and make sure that you know your brand names, you know what you're talking about and that you have potential questions from the host of what they're going to ask and know what your answer will be.

Phil:

And this probably is going to sound like an awkward question. You know, uh, as the producer of called you a booked, you have told you I want to talk about gluten free, whatever. What are the type of questions that you should ask the producer before you get there? Or is that, you know, don't cross that line because they might cancel you if you ask the wrong question.

Mary Ellen:

No, I think you definitely need to ask questions. You absolutely have a right to, and I think most producers actually appreciate that. Uh, so the, some of the things that I always ask for are other things you absolutely don't want me to say. And this usually comes from a perspective of like competing sponsors. You know, maybe the show has a sponsor and so they don't want you talking about the competitor of the sponsor. So, or things about different things about the TV station to always ask if there's things that and topics you should stay away from. You ask who the target audience or the main audience is, uh, listening to the broadcast cause you want to make sure you're talking to them. If the primary people watching the broadcast at the lunch hour is retired, people at home, you don't want to be talking about, you know, what can millennials do in the workforce kind of thing. You want to exactly know your audience, know what not to say. When you go in and know the length of time you have to talk. Uh, and so like let's say that your segment is going to be six minutes. You need to plan for what you'll do. If they tell you, Oh shoot, we only have five minutes, or Oh we have a little extra time and we're going to stretch it to seven. You need to plan for contingencies on how to expound your answers or have strengthened down.

Phil:

What about what to wear?

Mary Ellen:

Oh, that's a good question. So this can kind of be, some people don't like to talk about this because it sounds superficial or whatever, but I am a firm believer in you dress, you dress for success and dress to do your best. You want to make a good impression. You want people to see you as this warm and encouraging figure, but also an authoritative person on nutrition. So first thing is you're going to be standing next to TV hosts and who have their hair and makeup professionally done every day, right? So if go get hair and makeup done, just invest in it, write it off as a business cost. I would highly recommend that I've been in that situation where I didn't and people can tell and uh, and then as far as what to address, the station will usually give you directives and if they don't, that's another question to add to that list of things to ask the producer. But typically it's don't wear white, don't wear black and don't want busy prints. They like solid colors and you know, solid bright colors. So like pink, blue, green, red, all of those. A lot of times they love it. It's like a holiday theme around a certain time of year. They love like, you know, in March I wore my green blouse because it was for st Patrick's day kind of thing. So different things like that. They actually really love that when you do that.

Phil:

So what, what if somebody books you for a segment and let, let's talk about holiday time and what you wear. And you know, it's goofy, you know, they, they want you to talk about holiday nutrition, what we should be eating. But the last minute they come over and they say, you know, Mary Ellen, do you mind wearing the Santa Claus hat? How do you respond? How do you respond to that?

Mary Ellen:

If it's, if it's something I'm comfortable with, I would say absolutely. Like, I don't you, you always have a right to say no. Um, but I highly encourage you, like, don't be afraid of feeling goofy. Think about the times when you've watched the news and the most entertaining and engaging segments are usually because they're doing something silly. Uh, and it also speaks to the tone of the show. And you know, there's more casual news shows and there's more serious shows. And so definitely be in tune with that. And you just, you kinda gotta be flexible and go with the flow. If they want you to wear a Santa hat and you're okay with it, by all means go for it.

Phil:

Now let's talk about social media. You know, you had mentioned the TV is still very, very powerful. Um, and a lot of RDS have have just said, okay, social media, it's sorta easier. I can do it. They're doing Facebook lives, they're doing IETV. What are some of the best practices and tips that you've got for those platforms?

Mary Ellen:

Yeah, so I can speak primarily to Facebook and Instagram because that's where I built my business or the majority of my business. And I think there's a couple key takeaways in that. Video content is huge. You mentioned lives, um, whether it's alive or a recorded video, that kind of informal looks like you did it on your iPhone. Casual fun video is what tends to do great across the board. Um, we're seeing less and less of these perfectly produced and scripted videos. Uh, for whatever reason, the social media algorithm algorithms don't tend to give them as much traffic. Um, whereas these more like giving a virtual tour through the store on a Tuesday afternoon kind of thing, you might see a lot more traffic with something like that. I also think, again, you need to know your audience. You need to look at those backend insights and see who are the people that are primarily looking at your social media content and speak to them and make sure you're targeting your messaging towards them and then giving them, you know, incentive to come into the store or come back to the social media page later on.

Mary Ellen:

You don't ever want to leave someone on social media wondering what to do next. You want to give them a call to action, a very clear and concise, um, CTA as we call them. And uh, just make sure that they know what you want them to do, whether it's to come to the storage and use a coupon, go to the website, download the app, whatever it may be.

Phil:

And that's part of it. The first part, you know, putting together a Facebook live, being interesting, doing all the things that you've been talking about, but how can the retail RDS get more followers, expand their reach, um, get, get more people online, get more people with comment. What are some of the, what are some of the learnings that you have that you can share?

Mary Ellen:

Yeah, so I think in, I've worked extensively with sprouts farmer's market and their digital marketing team. And I think one of the things they do great with their platform is their influencer team who works with like social media people works really closely with the marketing team. And so you've got marketing experts who understand the backend really well. So to a retail R D you know, working in a store or maybe at the national level in the corporate office, I'd say get with you got to get with the marketing team because they understand the back end of this and how, you know, you have a topic you want to talk about, they can help you frame that in a way that's going to reach more people on social media, whether it's a new hashtag strategy or the time of day to post or the frequency of posting. Uh, there's, we could go on and on about the number of things that impact how many people see something. Uh, but I definitely probably sounds like a cop out. But my advice would be to go to the experts in marketing cause they know this. And I know your store has the employees who know how to do this.

Phil:

I'm going to put you on the spot here. What's the worst thing you ever did on Instagram?

Mary Ellen:

Oh, um, worst thing I can, most embarrassing thing.

Phil:

Most embarrassing. Just wait when after you did it, you came back the next day and you said, Oh no, why did I do that?

Mary Ellen:

Okay, so probably is engaged with the haters. You, you're gonna get, you're gonna get a lot of positive feedback on your content, but you're also going to get some negative feedback and people who tell you you're wrong. And people who comment, you know, like the little trolls on the internet, uh, just look into, say something negative. And I think the worst thing you can do is engage with those people because they're looking for a fight or they're looking to cut people down and you're usually not gonna change. Be the one to change their mind. And so I had to learn to just not engage with that. I did have a couple of times early on where I naive thought I could change someone's mind. And it just, um, when someone's that intent on being negative online, it's best to just

Phil:

walk away. Just walk away. Yeah. So, you know, these days, um, some retailers and certainly, uh, retail RDS work very closely with brands, um, in, in a paid way to promote their products. Um, so, you know, we, we really have gotten into a whole new era that it's really important to disclose that relationship, um, that you're not misleading whether it's the TV station or radio station or the, the shopper themselves. How do you do that effectively to make sure that, that the paid client, um, gets their fair, do, uh, gets their message out there and you disclose what, uh, what you're doing and that you're getting paid.

Mary Ellen:

So as many people know, the FTC has a whole host of guidelines around social media and what is the correct way to disclose sponsorships. And this can be in the form of like hashtag ad or hashtag sponsored or in partnership with and it's, you know, always follow those, any brand that asks excuse not to follow those you need to run far, far away from, uh, but then when it comes to TV it can get a little bit trickier. And unfortunately we see people being a little bit or not a little bit a lot bit unethical about how they do this. And so it's very important that you clarify with the producer of the show. If you're working in a sponsor capacity, you know, like a brand is paying an RD from a store to be on the segment or if the brand has paid for extra exposure, and again this really goes back to the station might have a policy on a are or are not okay with the sponsored placement, but then also it could interfere with potential sponsors of the news hour or something like that. So you want to make sure you ask those questions, but if it's okay, the best way to disclose and the producer says it's okay is on air. You just say, you know, I'm so excited to be working with X, Y, Z. I'm so excited for our partnership with this. Uh, and then you also want to make sure that if it's, like I mentioned earlier, if it's shared on the station's website as like a blog post or you're sharing it on social media later, you want to add the disclosures in there as well.

Phil:

Mary Ellen, you certainly are the expert and and have some great tips for us. If other retail RDS want to get in touch with you, want to see your work, want to get smarter by talking to you. How can they get in touch?

Mary Ellen:

Yeah, so you can always visit milk and honey nutrition.com and fill out that contact me page. It goes straight to my inbox. And I've also just launched a course in collaboration with another RD called rise to the top. How to stand out online as an expert and it's tailored specifically for dieticians to teach you how to grow your social media following, translate that into working with media and brands and really just kind of help dieticians rise to the top. And you can go to milk and honey. nutrition.com/get started for more information on that.

Phil:

That's great. I also just want to point out that milk and honey is M. I L K, N, H. O, N. E, Y. Nutrition. It's not the word and well, Mary Ellen, thanks so much for joining us today on loss in the supermarket. Thank you for having me.