The word ‘carbohydrate’ has come to have such a negative connotation in our society today, that even being in the presence of a potato will make us gain weight. Well, I am here to mash (no pun intended) this myth now! In the 1990’s, Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution became a best seller and gave people the impression that everyone should stay away from carbohydrates. This epidemic became such a craze that many Americans were doing. But there are many health benefits to certain carbohydrate foods. One company, came to the rescue with a genius campaign with the potato as the hero.
The U.S. Potato Board saw this new trend as a great threat to the potato industry. In 2004, they came up with, “Get the Skinny on America’s Favorite Vegetable.” They created a website, http://www.healthypotato.com to inform the public about how great potatoes are. They showed all nutritional information about potatoes; high in potassium, fiber, vitamin C, low in calories and zero fat! The website came along with “Health Educators,” “Food Resources,” “Recipes,” “Media Center,” and “Nutrition and Information” sections. They are not trying to hide anything, and are telling you exactly what a potato is and how it can benefit YOU.
The health educators portion of the website included a Q&A fact sheet that would address confusion on carbohydrates and PowerPoint presentations on the nutritional benefits of potatoes.
The results of this public relations campaign was outstanding. It made 62 million impressions in national print and broadcast consumer media in a short six months. It took on great interest with many media outlets such as the New York Times and USA Today by printing the campaign advertisement as well as nutritional label. The radio aired the Healthy Potato message, according to Flieshman-Hillard, was heard by 28 million listeners.
I was overjoyed when I heard about this public relations effort by The U.S. Potato Board. The myth about potatoes not being healthy almost brings a tear to my eye. To get most of your daily dose of potassium, eat a potato! This will help reduce blood pressure levels. Potatoes actually have MORE vitamin C than a sweet potato does which will support that immune system of yours. Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that cannot be absorbed be digested. Therefore, when it cannot be absorbed, it comes out of our system..in other ways, which can aid for weight loss.
Patrica Swann, Cases in Public Relations Management