Poultry in motion: Butterball’s Turkey Talk Line goes mobile

By Susan Young | Raglan’s Daily PR blog — Posted: November 22, 2016

PR and marketing pros at Butterball are going mobile this year. Photo: Raglan's PR Daily

PR and marketing pros at Butterball are going mobile this year. Photo: Raglan’s PR Daily

The PR and marketing pros at Butterball are going mobile this year.

Market research indicated the popular Butterball Turkey Talk Line should boost its outreach to millennials. So, for the first time since its 1981 launch, the hotline is offering a texting option for those who need immediate help.

In a phone interview with Health Care Communication News, Janice Stahl, a supervisor at Butterball’s Turkey Talk Line in Naperville, Illinois, said texting services launched on Friday and are available through Nov. 24.

“We’re the first in the industry to use text messaging for holiday prep assistance. Our research said 33 percent of respondents want to text questions, many from the grocery store. People—especially millennials who are less experienced cooks—want immediate answers. It’s a fun way to reach out and a nice addition to the Facebook, Twitter and live chats we offer.”

Butterball estimates that 10,000 people will call its help line on Thanksgiving Day.

Stahl adds that older people prefer the telephone and emails for direct contact with a human being. There are live people, no callbacks or bots, she says. Videos are available, too.

Talking turkey

Who exactly is on the receiving end of the inquiries? Stahl says there are 50 “turkey experts” who have worked as dieticians, chefs and home economics teachers. “We are foodies at heart,” she says. Advice and reminders about food safety, hand washing and handling raw poultry are paramount, Stahl says.

The last few years have brought a shift in the topics and concerns of those shopping and preparing holiday dinners. Stahl says folks have diverse issues, which include:

  • Vegan and gluten-free prep
  • Healthful portion sizes
  • Suggestions for leftovers
  • Healthy options for football snacks
  • Cooking time

A post on AdWeek features an interview with Sue Smith, co-director of the Turkey Talk Line.

According to a Butterball publicist, one thing the company hasn’t considered is a turkey chatbot, despite its steady adoption of digital platforms in recent years.

“The equity in the Talk Line is that you get to speak to a real person who can help reduce stress and walk you through your questions,” the spokesperson said. Texting, which still involves a real person, is one thing, but home cooks apparently don’t want turkey advice dispensed by a robot.

Smith’s phone crew—who all graduate from something called Butterball University—has evolved in other ways, too. In 2013, the staff added men after the company realized that “more men are cooking, and more men are calling,” Smith said.

The funny side of things

What would the stress of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner be without a sprinkling of humor? In Orlando, 101.9 AMP Radio, posted:

These are the funniest calls of all time:

· The woman who cleaned out her turkey with a scrub brush and asked if it was okay to do.

· A man looking for a quick way to cook his turkey who put it in the oven on the cleaning cycle.

· Is it okay to thaw my turkey in the bathtub while I bathe my kids?

· If I cut my turkey with a chainsaw will the oil affect the taste?

· Can I take my frozen turkey into my sauna to thaw it faster?

Let’s just hope the conversation around the dinner table this year is palatable, too.

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