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The problem with “top” lists

I was just ruder on twitter than I think I’ve ever been. I surprised myself, and I’m a bit embarrassed. And while I do wish I had been more tactful in my tweet, the sentiment is still true.

This morning when I woke up I was greeted by this:

Top 100 Bloggers? You might think I’d be excited. And this may sound very jerky, but I wasn’t. I sighed and clicked.

I know I should appreciate being included in things that are meant as a compliment, but it’s lists like these that cause me to spend a ridiculous amount of my time dealing with pitches that are way, way off base. And while I appreciate (sincerely) the article’s suggestion that PR people print out the last 30 days of blog posts from the 100 bloggers on the list, the trees are safe – they won’t do it.

Instead, many many lazy PR people will just pitch anything and everything to the people on the list. (And please note carefully that I’m not calling all PR people lazy – I work with many many wonderful PR people who are the opposite of lazy, and would never just blindly pitch people on a list.)

As I scrolled down the list of mommy bloggers (not all bloggers, or moms, or even women, I might add) and found my name, I clicked on my “direct contact” link with apprehension while muttering “Please don’t be my email address. Please don’t be my email address.” See, if people actually go to my contact page to find my address, they see a list of things I don’t want to be pitched about. Hopefully they pay attention and that list saves us both some time and trouble.

But if they just get my email address from a list online, or a list they purchased, then my inbox gets clogged with even more that the hundreds of off-base pitches I’m already getting every week. Even if I’m just skimming and deleting, it still takes time I would rather spend doing just about anything else.

Well, the link didn’t go to my contact page (damn) or my email (phew), but it did go to my twitter page. Almost as bad as my email. While that won’t put me on any lists I didn’t subscribe to, it will cause me to get pitched publicly, something I can’t stand.

So back to the part where I acted like a jerk. Burning bridges never does anyone any good. I wish I’d kept that in mind when I saw the following:

And then without giving it enough thought I tweeted back this:

Yeah. I know.

But I was still aggravated from this morning, and then got aggravated more when he thanked me for feedback I hadn’t given. Add to that the record number of times he’d used my least favorite term – “Mommy Blogger” – in the post and I just snapped.

I’m not against lists completely. I proudly display my inclusion on some of them on my press page. But here are some suggestions for how I think lists can be productive. These suggestions start with things that are really easy to do, and get progressively harder. The farther down the list you get, the more relevant and helpful your list will be.

  1. No voting.
  2. Link to the blog, not the contact info.
  3. Give some context for how the list came to be. Was it based on traffic? A poll of people in your office? Blogs you personally like to read?
  4. Scrutinize and edit your list. Go past the obvious. If you really and truly think that Dooce is the very best writer out there and needs to be pitched more, fine. But your list will be a lot more useful (not just to the PR people, but to the people on it) if it explores new territory and is not a carbon copy of half of the other lists already out there.
  5. Go niche. Know what’s better than a list of 100 bloggers where the (supposed) tie-in is that they’re all mom bloggers? A list of 15 great blogs about fashion from a mom’s perspective. Or 20 blogs about balancing home life and work life. Or 50 bloggers who write meaningful, in-depth reviews about baby products.
  6. Give a description of each blog. If you’ve done your homework, it should be easy to write a sentence or two about each blog on your list.

When someone lands on your list, it should put them in a good mood and have them racing to their twitter account to brag about it. If that happens, you’ve done it right.

Originally posted on Behind the Screen. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 0. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.

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6 Responses to “The problem with “top” lists”

  1. Holly on August 25th, 2012 11:38 pm

    The premise of the article is insulting, that bloggers will do anything for free and are cheap marketing. How can it be an honor for anyone to be on it? As a marketer myself, they clearly don’t understand blogger outreach or who we are as professionals.

    As soon as I saw Melanie Notkin on the list, and Resourceful Mommy and The Motherhood, who are not “mommy bloggers”, I realized the list was a hoax and ploy to bring more attention to their site. Total SEO stunt.
    Holly´s last [type] ..Join the MamaDrama/Every Beat Matters Twitter Party, a Campaign to Save the Children


    Amy Reply:

    @Holly, Agreed. There was something for everyone to hate in that post.


    Mom101 Reply:

    @Holly, I felt the same way. You want to be like, yay for all these bloggers to feel included!

    And then you’re like, fuck…the guy just did a twit search of anyone with “mom” in their name or bio. So what’s the value in that? As I’ve said, I love Lisa Stone and Marisa Thalberg and Melanie Notkin and Maggie Mason. But mommy bloggers they are not. Nor is the guy who calls himself “mommybloggers best friend” but offers SEO services (seriously, he’s on the list). And the plagiarist who shall not be named? Don’t get me started on that.

    The one consolation is that if bad PR people start using that list as a valid one, they’re going to start right with The Bloggess.
    Mom101´s last [type] ..How advertising works


    Amy Reply:

    @Mom101, Ha! Exactly. And she’ll know how to take care of them. :-)


  2. Nicole Feliciano on August 26th, 2012 12:01 pm

    it’s obviously a lazy pitch for page hits, but he does expose some big problems with blogger pitches and for that we can say hurrah since we are all loudly agreeing that none of us want to be pitched for the chance to win.

    Your tweet was right in line.
    Nicole Feliciano´s last [type] ..Chic Looks from Mezzmer Eyewear


    Amy Reply:

    @Nicole Feliciano, :-) Thanks. I feel bad for being so rude, but that was just too much.


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