Surveyed to death

The poll, presented as a hard news fact, has become the PR person’s easiest option for getting extra media attention.

Come up with a jolly topic, survey a couple of hundred people, write a press release and wait for the headlines. There have been a string of useful such polls.
For example, – a map and route-finding website – timed its poll of 531 people to coincide with the weekend’s holiday rush. And what astounding fact did it come up with? A car trip to an unknown destination is the most common cause of rows between couples. Surprise surprise.
Or take environmental organisation Natuur en Milieu which proclaims that seven out of 10 Dutch people will not buy dairy products from Friesche Vlag. That headline is based on a survey of ‘over 500 people’.
These respondents were asked if they were aware that Friesche Vlag was involved in chopping down tropical rainforests (to create fields for soya production which in turn is used to feed cattle). A hardly surprising 90% of people were not aware of that fact.
But now they know, seven out of 10 say they will not buy the company’s products any more. Headline worthy stuff indeed.
Of course, both these press releases did in fact achieve their aims because Sidelines has now written about them.

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