Stories “behind” the food people eat and great visual content are now most likely to keep readers and users engaged, according to the panellists at Gorkana’s Future of Food panel event.

Laurel Ives, food editor at The Sunday Times and editor of The Dish and Tony Turnbull, food & drink editor at The Times, as well as Helen Best-Shaw, creator and blogger at Fuss Free Flavours agreed that readers are interested in the details of food more than ever before. Here are just three of the top tips for getting ahead in food media that they shared at the exclusive Gorkana panel event yesterday:

Look for the story behind the food
The panellists agreed that readers are now inspired from stories of people doing great things with food, from how it’s produced to how it’s distributed and, ultimately, consumed.

Turnbull said that spinning stories around food has now entered ‘the realm of fashion’. Previously food writing was solely about accuracy but now he says it’s more about “fashionable” ingredients; the particular grapes used for orange wine, for example.

He said it puts a bigger pressure on journalists to try and find an angle for a bigger story. “It’s far more about trying to find details which you can then put into a wider context,” he added.

Visual material is becoming more important
Video and photography is becoming much more important according to the panellists, with Ives and Turnbull both urging PRs to supply more high quality pictures.

Ives said: “With The Dish (The Sunday Times food supplement) I try to produce a very visual product and it’s brilliant for magazine content, so I find [digital] platforms very interesting.”

Journalists are also looking to incorporate more video into their work. Ives added:  “We have started making videos; we love food videos and would like to do more. It’s a great thing.”

Concepts that turn readers off
Sustainability, the GMO debate and veganism are all concepts the panellists noted as “turn-offs” for readers. All three areas are important topics but not necessarily as engaging for readers as they once were.

Ives noted it’s about creating an engaging idea “around” such concepts. However, Best-Shaw said one of her most popular blog posts is a vegan recipe.

However, themes and trends, such as ‘flexitarianism’, still resonate with audiences:

The pop-up is dead!

Each of the panellists believe that the concept of the ‘pop-up’ is dead as a way to generate media coverage in its own right. None of the panel said that they would be likely to attend one if invited.

More than 130 people from the Gorkana community turned out for the panel event, which was chaired and moderated by Philip Smith, head of news and content at Gorkana. Here is just some of what what they had to say on social: