Opinion Surveys: Getting the right results

Posted on by Mike Evans

When I was a public relations professional I would always suggest a survey of opinion to help boost my clients' businesses and get a few column inches. It was a nice cheap way of generating a bit of a story, especially if it proved a client's products or services to be the best. The press is always up for a good story based on hard facts. These days, I take these things with a pinch of salt, especially when the results are the ones that pander to the client concerned.

Today, I read, the washing machine is the third most important invention in the history of man. Only the third? Yes, it comes behind the internet and broadband which, in most lay eyes are one and the same thing. So in reality, the humble washing machine is almost the most important, the most life changing, the most scintillating of inventions in the history of man. But who says this? Apparently it is the result of a survey of 2,000 independent individuals. Who did the survey? Hotpoint. What does Hotpoint make? Washing machines, of course. I am really surprised their washing machine didn't kick the internet into touch but there has to be a hint of realism and coming second proves the veracity of the information. I could have hoped for no less.

What lesser developments are there? Read the full list here in the Daily Mail and marvel at what some people consider to be of earth-shattering importance. Hair straighteners, anyone? Toasters? Double glazed windows? Sky TV?

All I can say is that this happy band of 2,000 must be a strange lot. What about the wheel, the bicycle, steam, the internal-combustion engine, air travel, penicillin, anaesthesia, railways, wireless, fire and hundreds more? These trifles are all far less important than a coffee machine or a washer, Hotpoint would have us believe. We shouldn't be too surprised the surveyed masses couldn't do without a washing machine when they have such limited horizons.

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