James N. Klapthor

It should come as no surprise that a great deal of IFT Media Relations time and effort goes directly toward the IFT Annual Meeting & Food ExpoSM. As a significant revenue resource for IFT and a significant intellectual clearinghouse for the IFT membership, it is also the single greatest IFT event that annually promises to contain information possibly deemed interesting by the news media.

At this year’s event in Chicago, 175 members of the news media registered for credentials, and confirmed attendance among those reporters reached 90%. This trumped journalist attendance from the previous year in Orlando, reached beyond predictions for 2007, and surpassed the press corps roster from 2003—the last time IFT held its Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Chicago.

This enhanced attention to the meeting came concurrently with the omnipresent demands by IFT to curtail costs where possible and keep a critical eye on squeezed budgets and bottom-line results. Thus, IFT Media Relations utilized less-expensive electronic communications over the traditional, time-worn, and mostly antiquated printed media kits for alerting reporters and editors of presentations and presenters scheduled for the meeting.

These efforts went a long way toward fulfilling IFT’s stated goals for 2007 to increase coverage of the Annual Meeting & Food Expo by the news media.

Although neither IFT nor anyone else has any control over the amount and type of coverage—if any—that will result from the news media’s interest in and attendance at any event, here is the resulting coverage to date:

CanWest news group—Canada’s media conglomerate of newspapers, television stations, and other communication outlets—published articles originating from the IFT Annual Meeting and based on information presented there. 

On July 31, the headline "Trans fat under fire in the food industry" was distributed via CanWest and appeared in the Calgary Herald and other outlets.

"We’re in a hard spot," the Herald attributed to Carol Culhane, a Toronto-based food consultant who spoke at the IFT Annual Meeting. "I know of one particular manufacturer where their saturated fat is maxed out. The only way they can remove the trans fats is to add more saturated fat. They are shaking their heads saying, ‘We do not believe this is a healthier outcome.’"

In addition to the Herald, CanWest owns and publishes the Montreal Gazette, the Vancouver Sun, the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, and others. In all, CanWest published at least three separate articles, which can be accessed online at www.canada.com.

The ABC-TV affiliate in Los Angeles covered the Food Expo with its own personnel and produced two separate stories in August, one termed "Sci-Fi Food" and another, more contemporary, story on functional foods. Airing three separate times in the nation’s second-largest television market, these stories involving IFT reached an audience surpassing 750,000 viewers. That does not take into account the Web audience, where these KABC-TV stories are also accessible via the Food Coach (reporter Lori Corbin) link.

Registrants at the Annual Meeting who also attended IFT’s Food Safety and Quality Conference or IFT’s Food Nanoscience Conference immediately following the Annual Meeting were also able to read the news media’s interest in the show as it occurred, as covered by the New York Times.

The article "I’ll Have the Fish Paste Sushi With the Green Tea Rice" on p. 3 of the Business section of the August 1 issue led off with the sentence, "If you believe the vendors at the annual Institute of Food Technologists convention, you may soon be able to eat and drink your way to better health."

That captured the essence of this year’s show floor perhaps as well as any reporting could.

The New York Times circulates more than one million copies a day. Its Web site, where this article was also made available, boasts more than 13 million unique users monthly. That article also appeared on August 2 in the TimesInternational Herald Tribune. Compiled in Paris and in Hong Kong, that newspaper is distributed worldwide, including in the United States, where circulation is 183,000.

More news coverage involving the IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo is available online at www.ift.org/cms/?pid=1001593.

It is, of course, unknown whether IFT will be as successful in 2008 in providing an Annual Meeting & Food Expo deemed interesting by the news media and whether the news media will respond with as favorable coverage as demonstrated here. But, certainly, IFT Media Relations will do all it can to make this intentional connection in order to deliver to vast public audiences perspective and information on the impact of food science on their lives. 

by James N. Klapthor,
Media Relations Manager
[email protected]