James N. Klapthor

When a Little Effort Goes a Long Way
Rule No. 1 when providing information to the news media: Treat every news outlet the same. You never know when or where your information may appear.

With today’s content sharing, international newswires, and media conglomerates, what’s published in one news outlet can be repeated in another. And another. And another.

Sure, it may seem natural for some to place more importance on interaction with The Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times. But if the source of original information treats news organizations exactly the same, whether for an article in the Wall Street Journal or the Albuquerque Journal, odds are likely no one will be disappointed in the results; more likely they’ll be pleasantly surprised.

This is certainly the case with this publication.

IFT regularly offers trend information published in Food Technology to other news outlets. So there was little fanfare when The Peachtree (Ga.) Citizen Review referenced Food Technology in the lead paragraph of its August 20 article, “Make over your menu with one dish meals.” With the paper’s circulation of only 9,000, IFT simply waited and watched where the story might go from there.

First, it was distributed throughout Citizen Review Newspapers, a chain of four Georgia papers with a total circulation of 50,000—a respectable number. The next day, the article was featured in the Centerville (Iowa) Daily Iowegian, a newspaper with an even more modest 3,000 circulation.

If the longest journey begins with the first step, this was it. Months later, the article was still appearing in similar outlets, at least 75 of them with a cumulative circulation of more than 375,000. That’s comparable in size to The Denver Post and the San Diego Union-Tribune, newspapers ranking among the 25 largest in the country, and having circulation greater than that of the Miami Herald or the Detroit Free Press. Also comparable to receiving exposure in one issue of those readily recognizable newspapers, this article highlighting Food Technology appeared again and again and again for no fewer than eight weeks.

In the day and age when fewer, larger media groups are controlling the operations and content of more news outlets, Food Technology was exposed to likely new audiences in no fewer than 25 states.

On the opposite end of the spectrum with similar, favorable results, are comments made by Mark Kantor, University of Maryland, to Rosie Mestal of the Los Angeles Times.

In an interview arranged in part through the assistance of IFT, Kantor spoke with Mestal in late September on the attributes of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils. His scientific insight appears in the October 4 article, “The lure of fish oil.” And its placement within the article helps to counter the perspective offered by an opponent of farmed salmon consumption. Kantor said, “I feel very strongly that people should eat salmon of all kinds—farmed, wild, whatever.” By the strategic placement of their comments in the article, Kantor and others immediately contradicted the advice of an outspoken critic of farmed salmon. Kantor stressed that the amount of polychlorinated biphenyls in the fish is far below the safety levels set by the Food and Drug Administration.

The article appeared less than one week later in the Sacramento Bee via the Times news wire. The Los Angeles Times circulates nearly 1 million papers daily. The Bee accounts for more than 300,000. That’s a lot of papers.

But numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

On September 7, the Chicago Sun-Times published an article focusing on the fat-reducing claims made by the manufacturer of a new oven appliance. Upon asking for and receiving commentary from Barry Swanson, Washington State University, the article supplied an opposing point of view. “It’s comparable to what you’d do on a barbeque grill,” said Swanson, calling the product’s fat-reduction properties not novel. And he disputed claims that the oven can reheat fried foods and still leave them crisp. “Unless the batter is pretty resistant to moisture, it’s going to get soggy.”

Until recently, the Sun-Times claimed a circulation base far greater than 400,000. Then the Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating inflated circulation reports by many large newspapers, including the Sun-Times. Its figures have since been reduced by 50,000. As circulation totals at major national newspapers are adjusted and confirmed, there’s no better time to abide by Rule No. 1.

by JAMES N. KLAPTHOR
Media Relations Manager
[email protected]