By Denise Purcell, Editor & Senior Director at NASFT/Specialty Food Media
We in the industry know what a big deal the sofi Awards are. For the past few weeks our phones at the NASFT have been ringing off the hook with suppliers asking questions about submissions and trying to decide which of their products they should send in for next week’s judging. The core sofi team is ready for what will be months of logging in submissions, facilitating several rounds of evaluations and, of course, the big event—the June revelation of the sofi Gold Winners at the Summer Fancy Food Show. And with all the packages flowing into our offices, they have already become good friends with the new UPS guy.
From the manufacturers who make the products to the retailers who look to the sofi Awards to help guide buying decisions, the specialty food industry follows the sofi process closely. Up until now though, consumers’ interaction with sofi has been mostly limited to the release of the Gold Winner and Silver Finalist products. These announcements do garner a ton of attention in the press—last year, NASFT estimates that sofi received nearly 25 million impressions between print articles in newspapers and magazines, television and radio spots and online features. All of that coverage generates a lot of consumer curiosity around the Awards and, through its own connection to the consumer, foodspring.com, NASFT has the ideal channel to harness that curiosity.
With all of that in mind, this year we’re ramping up consumers’ interaction with the whole sofi process, not just the end results. Through foodspring, we will be giving them an insider’s view of sofi from the beginning, letting users get caught up in the excitement and along the way gain a better understanding of the products and the awards, increasing our brand awareness.
Starting with next week’s judging of 31 categories in Part 1 of the 2010 sofis, the editors of Specialty Food Media will be tweeting live from the sofi Awards on twitter.com/foodspring as well as posting updates on facebook.com/foodspring to give followers a window into this year’s judging. We’ve already begun with initial announcements to alert foodspring followers who might not know what sofi is and what it entails. They’re being given a look at the onslaught of entries arriving at our offices, the unpacking of the thousands of boxes and the sofi team setting up the shelves and the kitchen for judging to start.
All posts will link back to the foodspring site where users can find more information about the Awards, take a look at previous years’ Winners and Finalists, and have an opportunity to participate in discussions about sofi. Contributing editor Nicole Potenza Denis, who is acting as culinary manager for this year’s judging, will also write about her experience in her popular foodspring blog FoodieMom. And shortly after the Part 1 Finalists are announced, we’ll be posting a brief description of each product on foodspring, as well as on specialtyfood.com, to create continuing excitement and anticipation for this year’s sofi Awards.
Each year the staff of the NASFT find the sofi Awards to be an exciting (and exhausting) journey and we are eager to be sharing it with the people who will ultimately be enjoying these products in their own homes.