New media can certainly be credited for filling the seats at the 2nd Annual Caribbean Fine Cocoa Conference & Chocolate Expo, which is underway at the Ritz Carlton, Montego Bay.

In planning the promotional campaign on a very limited budget, Panmedia relied heavily on online marketing and social media specifically to get the word out on the two-day conference, expo and investor forum.

The approach we used to build buzz around the event included Facebook advertising to targeted Caribbean countries; regular updates to the client’s Facebook page; weekly, targeted E-blasts; directory listings; and online press releases to targeted sites. Of course, we threw in a mix of traditional public relations (news releases, feature articles, and radio and television interviews).

Facebook was critical to the marketing strategy for promoting the cocoa conference. With the event’s stakeholders scattered across the Caribbean, we wanted a space where all their inputs could be recorded quickly. So sharing videos and photos was easy and efficient and, of course, everything links back to the Forum’s website for maximum exposure.

We found E-blasts to be the perfect distribution channel for the cocoa conference organizers to zero in on the event’s diverse target market that included farmers, investors, traders and processors throughout the Caribbean. Working with agriculture, private sector and business agencies, we compiled a master list of contacts and sent them weekly email updates.  In addition, we liaised with relevant business and agriculture organizations to have the conference and expo listed in the news and events sections of these websites.

Under the theme “Investing in Fine Cocoa and its Value Chain”, the two-day conference brings together Caribbean growers, producers associations, government agencies, cocoa processors, traders, exporters, manufacturers and retailers to explore value added opportunities in Caribbean fine cocoa and its commercial prospects.

The Forum will showcase a Chocolate Expo featuring products and companies from the emerging Caribbean cocoa value-add sector: cocoa drinks, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, truffles, bon bons, organic and dark chocolate delights. An Investor Forum will explore manufacturing and investment opportunities and consider global changes in the fine cocoa industry.

Now in its second year, the Forum was initiated as a European Union funded project under the ACP Science & Technology Programme in 2009. Its main partners include the Cocoa Industry Boards of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, the Ministry of Food Production in Trinidad & Tobago, and the University of Trinidad & Tobago.