Tyson Foods: Share Our Strength
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Tyson Foods: Share Our Strength

Golin/Harris worked with Tyson Foods, Inc. and leading anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength to develop a three-year, $10 million cause-related marketing partnership. The partnership helped Tyson focus its long-standing commitment to giving back to

Paul Holmes

Golin/Harris worked with Tyson Foods, Inc. and leading anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength to develop a three-year, $10 million cause-related marketing partnership.  The partnership helped Tyson focus its long-standing commitment to giving back to communities with a national cause, build its brand by positioning the company as a leader in anti-hunger efforts, and raise consumer approval of the poultry giant.  To announce the partnership, Golin/Harris conducted a made-for-media kick-off event; 20 local market media events surrounding food donations; and an internal communications campaign to create enthusiasm and participation among Tyson team members.  Following the kick-off, the number of consumers who have a favorable impression of Tyson jumped 10 percent, and the company’s image as a good corporate citizen jumped 23 percent.


For several years, the poultry industry has been negatively portrayed in the media.  Despite many proactive efforts by industry leaders like Tyson Foods, Inc., this depiction has provided consumers with an inaccurate view of the industry.  According to a Custom Research, Inc. (CRI) study, only 61 percent of people had a favorable impression of Tyson Foods in April 2000.

Despite the company’s commitment to communities across the country and their involvement in everything from Little League, to local schools, to the March of Dimes, only 32 percent of those surveyed in the CRI study responded “yes” when asked if Tyson cares about communities.  Based on this research, it was decided that Tyson needed to identify and support a leading national cause in order to more effectively communicate the company’s commitment to the community.

Using the Golin/Harris point-of-view document on corporate strategic philanthropy, an internal audit was conducted to distinguish areas of giving that were receiving the most support from corporate headquarters and the 80-plus local facilities.  The results revealed that the majority of the company’s charitable efforts was geared towards alleviating hunger, children’s programs and community initiatives.  Because the company is a leader in the food industry and can provide protein, a much sought-after nutrient in food banks, it was decided that fighting hunger would be the most strategic fit.


Next, Golin/Harris conducted an extensive search for the appropriate partner, identified leading anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength (SOS), and helped Tyson develop a partnership with SOS.  The three-year, $10 million commitment includes a donation of 6.5 million pounds of chicken; national sponsorship of Operation Frontline; volunteer programs for Tyson team members; and advertising and marketing support.

Working with Tyson and SOS, Golin/Harris identified the following objectives for the partnership:

  • Generate national and local publicity for Tyson's role in the fight against hunger
  • Increase public awareness among customers and consumers of Tyson as a good corporate citizen
  • Create excitement for the SOS partnership among Tyson team members

Targeting three key audiences, including “Kitchen Executive Officers” (KEO), women aged 25-54 who are mothers and/or the primary grocery shopper in a household; shareholders and customers of Tyson; and Tyson’s 65,000 team members, a comprehensive plan was developed using the following strategies:

·        Introduce the program through a media event at company headquarters
·        Conduct local market media events in conjunction with donations to food banks across the country
·        Execute a multi-faceted internal communication campaign for Tyson team members

Key messages for the announcement included:

  • For the past 65 years, Tyson has been committed to giving back to the community.  Now, Tyson is extending that commitment by partnering with SOS and joining in the fight against hunger. 
  • As part of its 3-year, $10 million commitment to SOS, Tyson will donate 6.5 million pounds of product, which equals 32.5 million meals, to food banks across the country. 
  • Because it takes more than food to fight hunger, Tyson is proud to be the national sponsor of Operation Frontline, SOS’s nutrition education initiative.


Kick-Off Event   To announce the partnership externally and internally, a national media event was held at Tyson’s Arkansas headquarters on May 16, 2000 and attended by hundreds of team members.  John Tyson, chairman, president and CEO of Tyson Foods, and Bill Shore, founder and executive director of SOS, gave brief remarks about the partnership and its expected impact.  The event culminated with Tyson team members cheering as four Tyson trucks drove off filled with a total of 65,000 pounds of chicken headed to Chicago for the first of 20 local market donation events.   Surrounding the kick-off event, Golin/Harris executed a comprehensive publicity campaign that included:

  • National media outreach:  Pitched national media opportunities and serviced wires with kick-off event releases and photos.   Pitch angles included the scope and impact of the partnership, and SOS’s strategy to battle hunger by employing the talents of large corporations, like Tyson.
  • Local media outreach: Secured broadcast, print and radio media in Arkansas to attend event.
  • Event b-roll: Produced and distributed a national b-roll package from kick-off event.
  • Satellite media tour:  Arranged for Tyson and Shore to participate in a satellite media tour immediately following kick-off event. Cities booked on the tour included those that were receiving product donations.
  • National mailing:  Distributed a press kit to targeted national media and the top 200 newspapers.  The kit included information about the details of the partnership, statistics on hunger in America and a call to action.
  • Audio news release:  Disseminated an audio news release that achieved more than 950 placements.
  • Mat release:  Distributed a mat release that reached more than 1.2 million people.
  • Web site component:  Included a section on the partnership on both the Tyson and SOS web sites.

Local Market Media Events  To continue momentum for the partnership, Tyson donated 650,000 pounds of product during the summer because this is often a time when food relief agencies see a lull in donations.  Through their network of food banks around the country, SOS identified the 20 markets most in need of food donations.  Golin/Harris coordinated a product delivery and media event in each market, including:

  •  Media Events:  Held media events as the donated product arrived in Tyson/SOS trucks at the local food banks.  Coordinated with the food banks to ensure the Tyson brand was visible through signage, t-shirts, etc.
  • Spokespersons:  Identified and media briefed local Tyson salespeople to serve as spokespersons at each event. 
  • Media outreach:  Secured broadcast and print media to attend event.

Internal Campaign  To create enthusiasm and participation among Tyson shareholders and team members, an ongoing internal communications campaign was developed, including:

  • Attendance at Events:  Invited team members to attend the kick-off event in Arkansas, and 650,000-pound milestone donation in Wilkesboro, N.C.  “Hometown” team members also attended the local media events
  •  Shareholder Letter:  Wrote letter to shareholders to introduce them to the partnership and encourage support.
  • Internal Publications and Intranet:  Featured information on the partnership on both the Tyson and SOS web sites, including the partnership details, photos from the kick-off event and a call to action for help
  •   Customer Letters: Drafted letters for local salespeople to share with their key retail and foodservice customers.


During the four months in which the announcement and local media events were executed, Tyson's image as a good corporate citizen jumped significantly, according to a CRI tracking study. When asked if Tyson cares about communities before the launch of the program, 32 percent of those surveyed responded "yes." Following the launch, 39 percent replied "yes" to the same question--reflecting a 23 percent increase.

Those who reported having a favorable impression of Tyson increased dramatically during the same four months.  Prior to the announcement of the program, 61 percent of those surveyed had a favorable impression of Tyson Foods.  After the launch, that percentage increased to 67 percent – reflecting a 10 percent increase.

News of the partnership reached more than 33 million consumers with branded messages, including:

  • Generating 225 television placements across the country, including the CBS Early Show; KABC-TV (ABC, Los Angeles); WMAQ-TV (NBC, Chicago); KHOU-TV (CBS, Houston); and WFOR-TV (CBS, Miami). 
  • Spawning more than 100 print placements across the country, including AP, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times.

Tyson received highly positive feedback from their team members following the announcement, including:

  • “I’m proud to belong to a company that likes to feed the hungry.” – Linda Briggs 
  • “Being part of the ceremony this morning made me proud to be part of Tyson.  People don’t realize how important it is to see what is closest to us and who we can touch the most.  Thank you for the time and money our company and people have spent on this project.” – Margaret Wiens 
  • “Thank you for allowing me to help with this…Thank you so much for everything you have done for this community.  You are greatly appreciated.” – Kristie Hamilton
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