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Work vs the dinner party

The latest headline to catch my eye was this: “Hosting a dinner party is ‘more stressful than going to work’”. Now, I can perhaps understand if you have a very easy job (was going to insert example here but wouldn’t want to offend any dog walkers etc) or you’re arranging a dinner party for 500 celebrity guests. But I did ask myself how making the table look pretty and looking up some Jamie Oliver recipes is more taxing than juggling a heavy workload, dealing with office politics, handling angry customers and everything else the workplace can hold.

But then I read the first paragraph and realised it was a case of a quirky headline and a clever PR angle. PR is great at masking what doesn’t seem a groundbreaking story when faced with the basic info. That’s the wonder of PR! Let’s look at the facts:

57% of those surveyed said that entertaining friends for a meal is more nerve wracking than commuting to work. So “going” to work in fact meant the process of travelling to work, not working in general. Not really a surprise there, but it makes a good story. (As an aside, since when did stressful and nerve wracking mean the same thing? I think someone has been using Microsoft Word’s synonyms feature too much. I should hope that hopping on the train or into the car isn’t a nerve wracking experience.)

Surveys like these are great ways of attracting some press attention – you don’t need a huge research project; just a few stats, an interesting angle and an attention grabbing headline. Seeing as though the PR in this case obviously worked, I had better give them the credit – thanks to After Eights for the story.

Just in case you wanted to know the other results of the survey: a quarter of respondents said dinner parties were more testing than a job interview – they must have their technique sussed. Hosts’ biggest fear was that the food will go wrong, and 15% of men claimed to have secured a job through a dinner party – there may be a separate blog post there…

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