NST’s Role in Protecting California’s Citrus

It’s hard to believe, but one tiny bug is capable of wiping out California’s $1.8 billion citrus industry. The aphid-like insect is called the Asian citrus psyllid and it can carry a disease that kills citrus trees. There is no cure for the disease, and once a tree becomes infected, it will produce bitter, inedible fruit and eventually die.

Three years ago, members of our state’s citrus industry called on Nuffer, Smith, Tucker to help stop this pest from wiping out California’s beloved citrus trees. The goal was simple: convince homeowners to go outside and inspect their backyard trees for this pest, and report any possible finds to agriculture officials.

Ted Batkin, president of the California Citrus Research Board and NST client, and Kerry Tucker, who has a long history of being involved in strategic planning for the agriculture industry through Food Foresight, recently bylined an article for the agriculture industry publication The Packer. The article explains the approach Nuffer, Smith, Tucker took in combating this issue. Here is a recap of NST’s activities and results:

    First we conducted qualitative research to identify the emotional drivers that would help us craft key messages, which led to the formation of a “death sentence” messaging strategy that would resonate with homeowners. Then, NST developed a comprehensive outreach plan that included a combination of broad-reaching tactics and hyperlocal activities in areas where the Asian citrus psyllid has been found.

    Recent statewide media tours reached an audience of more than 1.3 million. Another 39.4 million impressions were earned through public service announcements, and radio and traffic spots aired throughout the Southern California region. The message is making its way to homeowners. With continued outreach, we can help save California citrus from a dangerous pest.

Read Tucker’s full article to get a more in-depth look at the strategies involved in raising awareness of the Asian citrus psyllid, and learn more about the pest by visiting CaliforniaCitrusThreat.org.