The List

With the year winding down it’s that time of year – list season.  Top XX blog to follow in the new year, Top twitter users you should be paying attention to, Top New York canines who tweet about music you should follow.


Now being on a well curated list is exciting – a new audience finds your message and you can reach more people – both good things. Assuming you respect the person making the list all the better.

Now here’s the thing about making and building a list, and it’s based on a lesson my college newspaper boss told me during a period when we were having production issues (the images were constantly sub-par) – “Would you want your headshot printed if it came out like that?”  Do you want those on your list to be proud to be on the list?  If your list is of sub-par quality (by whatever standard you set) those who do belong there question whether they really want to be on it to begin with.

Consider, for example, this list.  It purports to list the Top Social Media Firms in NYC Who Have PR Public Relations Background. Forget for a moment that if it’s “firms” it should have been firms “that Have PR…” and the redundancy of “PR Public Relations.”  The post itself actually states that the list creators have “picked a list of 100 Top NYC Social Media Pros known who come with classical big picture public relations experience.”  So it’s a badly named list, but that’s forgivable.

The real problem lies deeper within.

I didn’t delve into any of these folks’  content or influence (using any measuring stick of any sort) to determine if they’re “worthy” to be on the list – that didn’t concern me.  I just read their bios, reproduced on the blog itself, for my ‘research.’  Theoretically no more than someone compiling the list would do.  All in, the entire review took under 5 minutes (so the numbers may actually be higher, particularly as I was working from a printout while afk) . Here’s what I found:

Of the 100 (I’m assuming they got that part right – I didn’t count) Twitter accounts of “100 Top NYC” SM pros with PR experience:

  • Two (2) are not PR pros – they’re students (not that students can’t be cool and all…)
  • Eight (8) are not in NYC – And yes – I’m including those in New Jersey and the outer boroughs as NYC.  What I don’t count – Albany, Rochester, Boston, Providence, Syracuse and Sweden.
  • Five (5) are not PR people – I am including anyone on the “push” side of communications as PR – whether that’s social media, marketing, advertising, etc.  What am I not including as PR? Recruiters, Bloggers (even if they blog about social media – sorry Cashmore), IT guys (even if it’s for a PR firm).  And in case you’re wondering – the “pull” side of communications would be the fourth estate.  Yeah, they’re terms of my own creation to my knowledge.

Are these big numbers? Certainly not.  Would I want to be on this list? actually.

The point?

If you’re holding yourself out there as a person/company that should be considered a leader in their field, shouldn’t your product (to the extent possible) be as bulletproof as possible, rather than Swiss-cheese-like (i.e. full of holes)?  I would hope so.  Could an eight-grader have looked at this list and figured out who wasn’t in NYC? Who wasn’t in PR?  Sadly – yes.

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  • Great post, I’m feeling the burn out on the lists. Is it a bad thing that the best take-away was

    “Top New York canines who tweet about music you should follow.”

    That’s got me LOL-ing in a week I haven’t been LOL-ing much! Thanks 🙂

    • Hey Ryan –

      Glad you liked the post and I was able to lighten the mood for you a bit. Have a great rest of the week!


  • Anonymous

    Great post as always. What about a list of the worst lists? 😉 In any case, I would follow a canine that could actually tweet about music.

    • Heh, that one would take some time to compile. I’ll see what I can do about that mutt you’re lookin’ for…

  • Jasmollica

    If you have taken the time to come up with a list, at least take the time to do it right. I’m not disparaging the folks on the list, but the group that put it together should have done a better job. Sadly, they’ve put their name to a list that isn’t what it says.

    • Hey Jas –

      Very true, I’ve got no issue w/ the list itself necessarily but you (should) be proud of something you put your name on. In this case, I wouldn’t be.

      Have a great one,

  • the only lists that matter to me are the 10 hottest PR chicks based on their pics (and tweets) and the 10 PR dudes with the smoothest moves (on twitter), which can be found here and here: shameless plug, but hey we’re PR Public Relations people. 🙂 granted, these lists are subjective, but they take a year to develop and a secret committee to decide who gets in. on a serious note, tweet me if you want to be on the committee. someone decided to leave, and has been dexter-ized. 🙂

  • Elizabeth Shelby

    I agree these lists are irritating. But they don’t JUST come out during the end of the year. Every PR blog I have ever read relies heavily on lists for their structure. “Top 10 ways to be an effective communicator,” “7 Essential Social Media Tips,” “20 Phrases to Cut Out of Your Headlines.” They are exhaustive and, personally, I find them irritating. These things aren’t so black and white that they can be broken down into bullet points. In fact, these lists diminish the value and expertise of a PR pro, as it appears one can be on top of her game if she simply were to follow the list!!

    Also, just a side note, it should ACTUALLY be “WHICH have PR…” 😉

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