Why did they do it like that? The IMechE’s food survey

How the IMechE did a great technical job
Many of you will have read or heard about the IMechE’s (Institution of Mechanical Engineers) food survey that was covered extensively on TV, radio and in the media last week. It was a great piece of technical PR and I think it has done wonders to raise the issue of food waste and also the profile of the IMechE itself. 

The questions I’m interested in today are, ‘why did they do it that way?’ and ‘why did it work so well?’ After all, putting aside the Engineering Employer’s Federation we rarely see the results of surveys conducted by engineering trade bodies getting this level of national media coverage.

To answer the question, let’s first take a look at the story itself, for the benefit of those readers who maybe didn’t pick up on it the first time. Here’s the text from the press release published on the IMechE’s web site:

New report: as much as two billion tonnes of all food produced ends up as waste
~ Institution of Mechanical Engineers calls on urgent action to prevent 50% of all food produced in the world ending up as waste ~

A new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers has found that as much as 50% of all food produced around the world never reaches a human stomach due to issues as varied as inadequate infrastructure and storage facilities through to overly strict sell-by dates, buy-one-get-one free offers and consumers demanding cosmetically perfect food /Read more here

There are three key reasons that the report generated so much coverage. The first is that the IMechE started the conversation early on the road that takes us from seed planted in the ground to consumer interest.

They could quite easily have issued a report that said, ‘Bad engineering practices contribute to food waste’, but it may well have been regarded by the national media as too obscure. However, by including the consumer interest angle in their release they were able to generate more coverage than they otherwise would have.

The second reason is timing. Putting out a high impact story like this immediately after the Christmas holidays, when news is likely to be thin on the ground is a great way of moving it up the news agenda.

The final reason is that the report represents a good piece of content PR. The document itself was interesting, well researched and well put together and that gave it weight in the face of the fact that, in all honesty, the revelation that we waste food isn’t really news!

So, all in all, well done to the IMechE – there are lessons to be learnt here.

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Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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