NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

September 18, 2013

Turkey Talk Line to have first male spokesman

This year, if you call Butterball’s Turkey Talk Line for some cooking advice, you might get a male voice on the line.

For the first time, Butterball is enlisting the help of men, as well as women, for its Turkey Talk Line during the holidays. And the turkey seller is seeking the first male talk-line spokesman this year, as well.

The talk line, which is 32 years old this year, has long offered advice to anyone overwhelmed by making the perfect turkey for Thanksgiving Day and the rest of the year-end holiday season.

It has been improving its services, last year launching a smartphone app, Facebook live chats, Pinterest posts and other social media tools.

But the line, which has grown from six operators to about 60 since it launched in 1981, has never hired men before. The company says it wasn’t specifically excluding men, but it usually relied on word-of-mouth to hire its talk line operators and its hires were always women.

Now, it’s taking a more active approach.

“It’s the perfect time, because we have seen more and more men involved in Thanksgiving dinner,” said Mary Clingman, director of the Butterball Turkey Talk Line.

When the talk line started, only about 9 percent of calls that came in were from men. But now, about 1 in every 4 calls are from men, she says.

Butterball, based in Garner, N.C., will offer an online application for men age 25 and up to apply to be the spokesman for the line or one of the operators, via its Facebook page. The spokesman, who will man the help line and offer turkey tips via media appearances, can be based anywhere, but hotline operators should live near Chicago, where the hotline is operated.

Most operators have a background in food or nutrition and have culinary degrees or are dietitians, food stylists or scientists. They all take a crash course in turkey making at the Butterball University training program, as well.

But the main requirement: “You have to want to help people,” Clingman says.

The talk line will be staffed during business hours in November and December, reaching up to 1 million turkey makers via all of its channels.

The online application is available until Oct. 20 at www.facebook.com/Butterball.

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