Paying It Forward: The Importance of Serving Your Industry on Reputation Management

I had the privilege of attending a recent client event in Charlotte that reminded me of the importance of corporate social responsibility and serving broader industry needs in branding and reputation management.

Our client, S&D Coffee, a leading supplier of coffee, tea and juice products to the foodservice industry, was hosting a cooking competition for culinary students. S&D has developed a strong working partnership with Johnson & Wales University, a leading culinary school, and has hosted several events over the past several years to connect foodservice industry people – including chefs, restaurant and catering company owners and food vendors – with students pursuing a foodservice industry career.

Through this contest, S&D was able to create a forum where students could explore unique ingredient and flavor combinations, stretch their creativity to develop new recipes and showcase their cooking and presentation skills, while learning about things like food costs, partnering with food vendors, marketing menu items and performing under pressure from a celebrity chef S&D brought in for the occasion.

Aside from some fabulous food and beverages, the result of the event was a free exchange of ideas and a sense of welcoming the next generation into an industry that is truly excited to have them. The pride these young chefs took in their creation was evident, as was their true appreciation for the event itself and all they’d learned.

Many of the competitors came up to me to tell me how much they’d enjoyed participating and how good it was to know that the industry itself was committed to helping them succeed.

While there will likely be some media coverage and positive exposure for S&D for hosting this event, the most positive outcome of the day for S&D is that they may very well have earned several clients for life among these new chefs.

So, the next time your thoughts turn to marketing tactics that can help impact the bottom line, perhaps instead of thinking “What’s in it for us?” you might instead think, “How can we help?” Sometimes, it really is in giving that we receive.

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