Sometimes, being a journalist is no different than being an ordinary consumer. Like the audiences they serve, journalists read newspapers, watch television, and visit the Internet. Certain headlines appeal to some, different topics attract others, and the time they all can dedicate to finding interesting nuggets of information is dwindling.
It is with this line of thinking that the Institute of Food Technologists repackages content from Food Technology into a form that lends itself to the interest of the consumer reporter. It can be a successful technique for gaining media attention for this periodical, and it was recently.
In their Food, Medicine, & Health column in the May issue, Roger Clemens, University of Southern California, and Peter Pressman, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, declared that detoxifying diets provide empty promises. Knowing how popular fad diets are, how helpful to reporters diet experts based in southern California can be, and how responsible journalists and their news outlets need opposing opinion to balance their articles, IFT jumped at the chance to supply this perspective beyond the Food Technology readership.
The response was slow. By May 17, the story had been picked up only overseas by The Hindustan Times, India’s English-language newspaper serving the metropolitan area of Delhi. But the early coverage was not to be discounted. The newspaper is comparable in circulation to the largest daily newspapers in the United States. With more than 700,000 daily readers, The Hindustan Times would be the fifth-largest newspaper in the U.S., behind the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
Still, IFT expected more and better results.
So, drawing on Food Technology’s April column on hyperhydration, IFT attempted to gain journalists’ attention to Clemens’ and Pressman’s concern over weekend athletes drinking too much water while exercising and ignoring critical electrolytes. When considered in combination with the detoxifying perspective, IFT was hopeful that journalists would recognize that Food Technology could be counted on for substantive information on contemporary topics. It wouldn’t take long to find out.
Soon, both topics were appearing in coverage overseas and in domestic outlets. The Hindustan Times provided coverage of hyperhydration, as did the Asian News International (ANI) news wire and, via ANI, Zones.com, an international news Web site boasting 30 million visitors. The Rocky Mountain News, in Denver, took word of overhydration to its nearly 300,000 readers.
By June, Clemens had been interviewed live by CBS Radio KNX-AM in Los Angeles and by a morning television program in London, England, called Good Morning TV. Similarly, coverage of Food Technology was appearing extensively in major news outlets in the United Kingdom, India, and Australia, including coverage by the respected Reuters Health news wire and British Broadcasting Corp.’s BBC.com. Topic-specific Web sites eDiets.com, NewsRx.com, MyDNA.com, and Detoxant.info referenced Food Technology magazine.
The most recent review available has Food Technology and IFT referenced as sources for these two health topics in 40 news outlets worldwide, with an audience potential of millions.
These millions are not included in the most recent 12-month compilation of media placements of Food Technology, Journal of Food Science, IFT, and IFT’s Food Science Communicators in news outlets worldwide.
There are various ways to quantify and qualify the placement of IFT-derived information as redistributed by news media. A basic method is to determine the breadth of coverage by tallying circulation or audience figures claimed by each news source. The total would provide a reference of all viewers to have potentially learned of IFT or IFT-derived information. In the period from June 2004 through May 2005, IFT has had thousands of news placements providing information to more than 90 million people.
With the coverage of these two recent Food Technology columns helping to lead IFT into a new 12-month recording period, prospects are high for more success in the future.
by James N. Klapthor,
IFT Media Relations Manager