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Michael Sebastian and I had an interesting chat about list posts yesterday.

In social media and PR circles the “helpful tip” blog post is very common. There are several reasons, chief among them the ability to craft google-friendly headlines, the ability to demonstrate expertise, and the ability to be reductive/simple.

I write these posts sometimes. I read them sometimes, too. These are both choices made of my own free will.

Here’s the thing: after awhile the lion’s share of them start to sound the same.

If one more person tells me to “engage” or “interact with my community” I may throw up.

I am equally tired of the fact that a zillion PR bloggers constantly point out – in helpful list format –  that I am supposed to interact differently with bloggers than traditional journalists when trying to ply my craft. Funny, I had figured both groups were human (at least most of the time).

The blogosphere and internet have created a situation where everyone is giving everyone advice on complex subjects in ridiculous reductive terms.

The problem is that only a few people are actually good at dispensing this advice in this manner.

What do you think?

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • I agree wholeheartedly! As a PR teacher, I find those blogs that give me lists of steps or tip lists (such as your “6 tips on a designing and staging a successful PR stunt”) are extremely helpful. And even better when using a real example to help give detail to the list. Students of PR (and really, aren’t we all “students of PR”?) can really engage with these kinds of blogs and use them as check lists when they put together project for classes. Keep those lists coming!

  • I should say, keep those concentrated, helpful lists coming, not the trite and reductive ones 😉

  • Scott Meis says:

    Agree, lists do become repetitive and can easily play into the social media echo chamber but lists can also be incredibly powerful when the content is unique. Personally, I love quick, digestable content that I can quickly understand and can easily help clients understand. Humans are naturally methodical beings and I think the nature of bulleted or numbered content (again, when done with unique, creative insight) is a great approach.

  • Diana and Scott:

    Thanks for the the insights.

    I like lists too for the same reasons you outline. And I fully agree re there power as a digestive tool.

    But this is getting a bit much in our particular space. Your pts are very well taken.

  • Marla Lepore says:

    Agreed, Jackson!

    I, too, love the easily scannable, easily digestible nature of lists, but they’ve become so ubiquitous, I’m starting to tune them out. At best, many of the “top 5 ways to…” and “top 3 tips for…” posts are blending into the background noise. At worst, they seem gimmicky or forced.

  • Kelly Misevich says:

    I rarely read list blog posts unless it is on a topic that I’m not familiar with. The exception to that is a list that has some comedic value. Kudos to you Mr. Wightman for doing a good job of adding some humor into your lists!

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