MF Communication is a Belfast PR & Marketing Communications agency that provides corporate and brand PR and Marketing solutions to clients in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. Services range from proactive marketing, PR and stakeholder relations to crisis communications and corporate reputation management.

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From the land that gave us the classical composer, Giuseppe Verdi and opera legend, Pavarotti, Belfast PR Consultant Michele Filippi explores how Emilia Romagna's artistry extends to its food producers and how making and marketing their produce may provide insights for Northern Ireland's agri-food sector...

Emilia Romagna is home to some of the most well-known Italian food products. Names like Prosciutto di Parma (Parma Ham); Parmigiano di Reggiano (Parmesan); and Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena (Balsamic Vinegar) are music to many gourmands' ears. The popularity of these products has led to 'me-too' brands impersonating as the real thing. Italian words and emblems are used to create the perception that the copies are Italian. But in reality the origin of these imposter brands can be anywhere but Italy.

Not surprisingly then, the food producers I visited along the Via Emilia have been using the legal powers of the EU to protect their product names from misuse. Indeed, Italy gave birth to a seal to protect authentic Italian food in 1963 called the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC). This certificate of supervised origin was then adopted by the EU to introduce a system of protection regarding food production. Hence Prosciutto di Parma PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and Parmigiano di Reggiano PGI (Protected Geographical Indication). These are products with protected status and the classification verifies their authenticity and origin. This special status may be associated with various characteristics from breeds and breeding techniques used to origin of raw materials; from boundaries of the geographical area of production through to duration of aging and know-how used.

During a visit to Parmigiano Reggiano producer, Latteria Sociale San Lucio, Director Simone Ficarelli emphasised how important these classifications are to the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium of cheese makers. "If the packaging has an Italian flag, our advice to the consumer is to be wary and look instead for the PGI emblem."

From the number of registered products and marketing campaigns featuring the geographical indication (GI) protected status, it...

An extraordinary showcase of global agri-food marketing is taking place in Milan until the end of October. Expo Milano, an official World Fair, explores the theme 'Feeding the Planet, Food for Life'. I was there on its second day of opening as part of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists. This post reflects on how UK and Ireland were taking up the Expo theme then. The article also appeared over the summer in Business Eye:

Expo Milano is a platform for the exchange of ideas and shared solutions on the theme of food. It represents a multibillion Euro investment from the Italian government and the 140 countries and sponsors taking part. The organisers estimate 20M visitors will have the opportunity to find out about and taste the world's best food & drink. Having spent my professional life in PR & marketing in both Belfast and Dublin, which has included for agri-business & drink brands, I was particularly keen to see how the UK and Ireland had taken up the marketing opportunity and the Expo theme.

 

The UK's slogan for Expo is 'Grown in Britain and Northern Ireland'. It is led by UK Trade and Investment. The Pavilion is inspired by the journey of the honey bee, highlighting the vital role of pollination in the food chain. A mesmerising aluminium beehive perches above a real apple orchard. Through the metaphor of the beehive the UK is intended to be seen as a hive of innovation in helping to feed the planet. A terrace restaurant features a menu of British food showcased by Royal Warrant holders Mosimann’s. Disappointingly, the chef, who told us he was from Germany, couldn't point to anything from Northern Ireland. (An omission that hopefully has been rectified.) However, as a result of an exclusive arrangement with Diageo, I did spot a bottle of Baileys behind the bar. Yet the fact it is made here as well as in Dublin might escape the average 'Giovanni Soap'.

Next up, was the...

MF Communication is seeking a recent graduate (past 3 years) to fill its popular Ulster University (UU) summer internship position based in Belfast. If you have a degree or post-graduate qualification from UU in a Marketing or PR related discipline and previous, as well as relevant employment/ placement experience working in a marketing or PR job then we want to hear from you. In the first instance, please drop a cover letter & CV to b.byers@ulster.ac.uk.

 The successful applicant will be a recent graduate with a hunger to pursue a job in PR & marketing. A working knowledge and previous business-related experience of online content development and use of Google & social media analytics is also required. You will be able to demonstrate the following competencies and personal attributes:

•    Creativity and ideas-generation for client-related PR and marketing activities as well as a high degree of accuracy and attention-to-detail
•    Full computer literacy and fluency in use of Microsoft Office Suite (additional ICT/multi-media skills are a bonus)
•    Good organisational and analytical / research skills
•    Confident, professional manner and ability to easily establish a rapport
•    Personal integrity & honesty

Preferred qualifications & experience:
A third level qualification/s in a relevant discipline e.g. PR; digital marketing; marketing; business studies; entrepreneurship; CAM

or

A third level qualification in a non-related discipline but with previous employment experience of min. 1 year in a PR/marketing or digital marketing role. It is desirable but not essential that applicants have a full, clean driving licence and access to a car.

For further information contact: b.byers@ulster.ac.uk 

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