The U.S. Potato Board is looking to carry the potato’s nutrition message past the New Year’s health rush this year, and is ramping up a multi-part potassium campaign to keep the buzz going.

Potato board pushes nutrition in February, March

Courtesy U.S. Potato Board

The U.S. Potato Board replaced its usual messages inside its Peel Back the Truth ads to a potassium related message for February.

The timing of the board’s potassium push correlates with American Heart Month in February and National Nutrition Month in March. Its message is centered on research that shows the potato has the most potassium per serving of the top 20 selling fruits and vegetables in the U.S., followed by broccoli, bananas and tomatoes.

“February’s also Potato Lovers Month, so given that fact, it’s another opportunity to tell the nutrition story,” said Meredith Myers, public relations manager.

As of Feb. 17, the board’s Heart Health push in February had already garnered more than 20 million impressions, Myers said, through outreach to print and online media, radio and television, as well as Facebook ads and a social media event.

The campaign started early February with press kit mailings to consumer media that included a Potato Nutrition Handbook, a list of 10 reasons to love potatoes, a quick and healthy mashed potato recipe and images. Feb. 12 kicked off the national radio campaign, which resulted in more than 2,000 on-air mentions on more than 450 radio stations, Myers said.

“What we did with the radio blitz was a win-win,” Myers said. “What we do is pay for a day to be on a number of radio stations, then give D.J.s talking points and prize packages as an incentive to get listeners to call in about potatoes.”

Its satellite media tour happened Feb. 17. Christine Palumbo, a registered dietician and potato advocate, was booked in 22 markets, including the national radio show Daily Buzz.

The board also changed its Peel Back the Truth ads, which run in women’s and health magazines, to contain a potassium-specific message for February, and started running Facebook ads to boost its fan base. In one week, the group went from 3,000 fans to 4,200, Myers said.

“So it’s a full picture,” Myers said. “We’re working around our entire audience with this message about potassium.”

Myers said the potato industry’s efforts this decade to recover from effects of the low-carb craze and negative potato nutrition messages are gaining ground. The board conducts annual attitude and usage research, which shows potato consumption has leveled off from a downward slope in recent years, and attitudes are improving. The board expects to release the results of the 2010 research at its annual meeting March 10-12 in Denver.

“Part of building long term demand is making sure the nutrition story is told over and over, but also in different ways,” Myers said. “And we’re getting that information to the decisions makers.”