Sometimes being a features journalist means putting yourself in difficult situations. If that sounds weird (it’s not like we’re in war zones or anything), it’s more about interpersonal awkwardness than anything else.
This week I volunteered to organise a taste test between a basket of groceries from Waitrose and one from Aldi. There had been a news report on price discrepancies and I was interested in how they compared on taste as well as price. I included two food writers, a food editor and a group of colleagues of differing ages and life stages to make it as clear and fair as possible – and everything was out of the packets and unidentifiable to make sure it was a real blind test.
So… Aldi won in a surprising number of categories and there were interesting insights.
Alas, as with most subjects, there wasn’t space in the feature for much nuance but as a snapshot for Telegraph audiences, I thought it worked well. Very well, as it turned out – there were 1,650 comments online!
Feelings were running very high and many felt Waitrose was unfairly treated – I was conflicted as I do love a Waitrose shop myself from time to time; it’s not just about price or even flavour sometimes, there’s the convenience of self-scanning, the range available and the displays too.
In addition – and this is where the difficult situation comes in – I have a terrific working relationship with the Waitrose PR team and have been lucky enough to attend events and taste products with them on many occasions. But being an independent and thorough journalist does mean critiquing brands we like.
I was reminded of the years I was a restaurant critic and had to discuss why I had given a new opening a bad review with its PR – sometimes someone I was good friends with.
Almost always it was grown-up and practical – I hope it can always be that way.
… and now my editors want lots of more these taste tests as they do so well. I’m braced!
What Lisa thinks…
“This M&S release about a new fruit variety is a demonstration of both the importance for brands of social media and the absence of seasonality when it comes to grabbing headlines!”