Top 10 Lists: A Proven Publicity Tool That Is Simple To Create, Yet Powerful

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You don’t have to be a trained journalist or even a particularly capable writer to create content for your blog, website or social networking accounts that will generate visibility and buzz for you and your business.

If you can create a shopping or a To-Do list, you already have the basic skill set required to produce one of the easiest publicity magnets in a sophisticated PR person’s bag of tricks.

Top 10 lists are as old as the Bible itself. The Almighty, in His infinite wisdom, knew way back at the dawn of civilization that if you want to deliver a powerful message in a manner that people will remember, generate a list (which for Him was a snap, after creating the earth, the heavens, and the rest of the universe.)

The Bible is a narrative full of rich characters and compelling stories. Many people believe it is also great literature. Yet millennia before the dawn of the Internet, the Ten Commandments synthesized the essence of the entire Old Testament into easy-to-comprehend rules that could readily have been Tweeted out to the flock, if only smartphones had been around back then.

“You shall have no other gods before me.” Simple enough. “You shall not murder.” Got it. “You shall not steal.” A perfect slogan for a meme.

In the 2,000 or so years since God delivered the Ten Commandments to Moses, the magic of such lists hasn’t lost is luster or drawing power. In fact, Top 10 lists are more popular today – fueled by the viral nature of social networks – than at anytime since the ten plagues that moved Pharaoh to set the Hebrew slaves free.

In the modern era, David Letterman picked up the Top 10 mantle 30 years ago, and his nightly Top 10 generated billions of views and – once the Internet came along – reposts.

When Letterman announced his upcoming retirement last August, Business Insider forecast that the entertainer’s “greatest legacy” would be his nightly top 10 pronouncements. Business Insider ranked some of its favorite Letterman tabulations, including:

  • Ricky Gervaise shares the Top Ten Stupid Things Americans Say to Brits
  • Top Ten Reasons I’m Glad to be Named Justin Bieber
  • Top 10 George Bush Moments

God and The Economist

While Letterman is a talented professional, backed by a well-paid team of writers, his best Top 10 lists really aren’t that brilliant – are they? But they work, nonetheless, and they have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in ad revenues for CBS and the Letterman show.

In recent years, entire Internet sites have cropped up dedicated to Top 10 lists, including Listverse.com, TopTenz.net, and UltimateTop10s.com, to list only a few.

Time magazine, at the end of 2014, published its Top 10 Everything of the year. BuzzFeed is a list addict; and even sober news organizations such as The Wall Street Journal (The 10 Wealthiest People Under 40) and The Economist (Top 10 best MBA universities in UK) can’t but help themselves.

If it’s good enough for God and The Economist, who are you to argue?

Okay, then, how do you create your own viral-enabled Top 10 lists? Here’s the first secret: 10 is not a magic number. If you want to show some originality try an odd number, such as 7 or 11. They work just as well.

For topic ideas, look at what you know and what you do on a daily basis. If possible sprinkle in some of these eye-catching words into your list titles: Best, Dumbest, Sexiest, Amazing, Unbelievable, Naked, Fantasy, Profitable, or Inspiring.

For example:

  • 7 Best Ways to Avoid an IRS Audit (For an accountant, lawyer, bookkeeper, wealth manager or personal finance writer.)
  • 11 Dumbest Things Homeowners Do To Drain Their Bank Accounts (For home repair people of all stripes, wealth managers, or real estate agents)
  • 10 Sexiest Hair Cuts for Middle-Age Women (For beauticians, fashion retailers, cosmetic salespeople, or fitness coaches)
  • 10 Unbelievable Uses for Baking Soda (For grocery or supermarket blogs, do-it-yourself websites, or repair people)
  • 9 Celebrities Who Would Look Great Naked (For fitness centers, tanning salons, tattoo parlors or gossip websites.)

Naked Celebrities and Aluminum Siding

Believe me, if you post “9 Celebrities Who Would Look Great Naked” on your website and promote it, the number of clicks your site will receive in the following week on that article will more than double what you garnered in total the previous week – if not the previous month.

The good news is that you don’t have to be a Robert Frost or Hemingway to generate great lists. “You shall not steal,” is no Shakespearean sonnet.

What you need most is a mindset that asks, “What headline and list can I compile that will be irresistible to the audience I’m trying to reach?”

No topic is too dry or obscure if you truly understand your existing and prospective customers.

  • 10 Ways That Aluminum Siding Salespeople Can Turbocharge Their Profits
  • 5 Ways My Life Insurance Salesperson Inspired Me To Rethink Retirement
  • 15 Fantasies That Your Children’s Teachers Have But Will Never Confess

There is no fixed formula for Top 10 lists. They can be serious, humorous, useful, impractical, and just plain odd. The more original, the better.

Whatever you do, don’t stop at one list. You’ll be well advised to generate multiple lists at regular intervals and monitor which ones generate traction and which ones fall flat. There is no better way to discover what your existing customers and prospects will respond to than trial-and-error.

Finally, note that Top 10 lists are equally effective when the goal is to promote your individual reputation. In such a case, consider lists of authors you admire, destinations you favor, community leaders you respect, and the best advice you’ve ever received.

Based on experience, I can assure you that lists, executed well, are one of the best reputation tools you can deploy. I can think of at least 101 reasons why that’s the case, but I’ll restrain my temptation to list them all here.

 

If you would like help generating your own Top Ten lists to generate visibility for your business or your personal brand, I encourage you to contact Pan Prestige to discover how we can dramatically bolster your online visibilty.

Be sure to read our exclusive four-part series on putting Wikipedia to work for you.

4 Reasons You Must Harness the Titanic Branding Power of Wikipedia

Can We Quote You? – Wikipedia Loves Citations

Enlisting Complete Strangers To Help Secure Your Wikipedia Profile

Want To Be Featured On Wikipedia? Planning Is A Prerequisite

Want To Be Featured On Wikipedia? Planning Is A Prerequisite

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If it were easy to have your own Wikipedia profile, everyone in the business world would have one, not only for themselves individually, but for their businesses and for their products or services as well.

But just because it isn’t easy, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the effort. It is.

Wikipedia is, arguably, the most exclusive club in the reputation universe. It’s hard to get accepted. But once you become a member, it is like a lifetime marketing annuity that pays impressive online visibility dividends.

For all but the most select Wikipedia profile candidates – those whose high visibility makes them a shoo-in for inclusion – planning your petition to include your biography is a process akin to applying to a prestigious graduate school program. There are competencies that the Wikipedia admissions committee* will expect you to meet before they’ll open the gates to you.

The graduate school analogy is appropriate. If you want to attend an Ivy League school or other esteemed university, you must begin positioning yourself well ahead of the actual application. There are tests to take, courses to complete, real-world experiences to accrue, and recommendations to obtain.

So it is with Wikipedia, which – as an encyclopedia – wants proof that you are sufficiently notable to be of permanent interest to the public at large.

Proving You’re Noteworthy

If you are a business owner or entrepreneur with little or no current public visibility – a complete blank slate – the Wikipedia enrollment process is one that could take up to two years to prepare, sometimes even longer. Many people don’t have the patience to apply themselves for 24 months to achieve a business goal, so they don’t bother.

Often, Wikipedia profile candidates already meet some, but not all, of the qualifications that Wikipedia requires to approve a biographical profile. In such cases, the approval process could take as few as four to six weeks.

But whether you need several weeks or several years to clear the Wikipedia entrance hurdle, here’s the good news: you’ll see tangible – profitable – results from your efforts to qualify for a Wikipedia profile long before you’re actually ready to make your case to the Wikipedia admissions committee*.

Once you resolve to land your own personal real estate on Wikipedia, persistence and patience will pay. The site already contains hundreds of thousands of articles about living individuals, the majority of who are not widely known. If these people can plant their Wikipedia flag, so can you.

The formal criteria that Wikipedia sets for including biographies of living persons – which it dubs “BLPs” – is that the individuals must be noteworthy. The rub comes in deciphering how Wikipedia defines who is and who isn’t noteworthy.

According to Wikipedia’s definition, the barometer of notability is whether credible people independent of you find you notable enough that they have written or broadcast non-trivial works of their own that focus on you.

A single flurry of publicity is probably not enough to win you a permanent place on Wikipedia. But a sustained presence in the public spotlight usually will lead to Wikipedia admittance.

You Profit By Trying

Making yourself more visible elsewhere, first, is a price well worth paying. It boils down to good, old-fashioned reputation management. Done well, you’ll reap plenty of financial rewards for your efforts long before Wikipedia bestows its official seal of approval upon your accomplishments.

In future installments of this column, we’ll discuss various techniques you can use to bolster your online reputation and general visibility. Doing so will also greatly increase the likelihood of meriting a permanent profile on Wikipedia.

These reputation enhancement steps include:

  • Generate publicity about yourself in mainstream newspapers, magazines, documentaries, and broadcasts.
  • Be featured in academic journals, books, and e-books written by third-party authors.
  • Speak or moderate panels at respected industry and professional conferences.
  • Win recognition for your achievements from professional trade groups, nonprofit community organizations, government agencies, universities, and other recognized institutions.
  • Build a following for yourself and your ideas on third-party websites, such as The Huffington Post, About.com, Examiner.com, and HubPages.com.
  • Use social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and others to fortify your reputation as a thought-leader and notable individual.

Obtaining your own Wikipedia profile is somewhat akin to attaining a degree with honors from a prestigious graduate school. You don’t need one to succeed in business and earning one is no guarantee of success.

But appearing on Wikipedia does tell the world that you are among an elite group of men and women who have sufficiently applied themselves, attained success, and dedicated the necessary energy and commitment to count yourself in the business world summa cum laude – an individual with highest praise.

[*Note: If you have not read my three previous posts in this PanPrestige Wikipedia series, you should know that there is no actual “application” that you must submit to be approved by Wikipedia and no “committee” that sits in judgment. When you understand what Wikipedia will and will not publish, and you’ve taken the necessary steps to merit inclusion, your profile submission will be reviewed by a single Wikipedia editor who has the authority to grant you admission. Your profile, as noted in my column titled, Enlisting Complete Strangers To Help Secure Your Wikipedia Profile, stands a much better shot at being accepted if you don’t submit it on your own behalf.]

Read our previous Wikipedia columns:

4 Reasons You Must Harness the Titanic Branding Power of Wikipedia

Can We Quote You? – Wikipedia Loves Citations

Enlisting Complete Strangers To Help Secure Your Wikipedia Profile

If you would like a strong Wikipedia presence to strengthen your personal or business brand, I encourage you to contact Pan Prestige to discover how we can make getting your own Wikipedia listings and citations pain-free. If you already have one or more Wikipedia pages, contact us for a free evaluation of how effectively you’re harnessing the titanic power of the service.

Enlisting Complete Strangers To Help Secure Your Wikipedia Profile

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Secure Your Wikipedia Profile

Well just meet her. Maybe she’ll be somebody you’d LIKE to kill.”

Owen (Danny DeVito) to Larry (Billy Crystal) referring to Owen’s mother. – Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

 

Wikipedia doesn’t like self-promoters and goes to great lengths to discourage contributors from posting autobiographical or self-interested entries.

“If your life and achievements are verifiable and genuinely notable, someone else will probably create an article about you sooner or later,” Wikipedia writes in its voluminous “dos and don’ts” set of instructions.

I added the italics above – probably – because Wikipedia’s rules beg the question, what do you do if you or your company do merit an article on Wikipedia and no one has gotten around to writing one?

That is what I’ll discuss in this column, the third in PanPrestige’s Wikipedia series.

Wikipedia is so intent on preventing people from “gaming” the system that it throws up all sorts of obstacles and warnings. These speed bumps can prevent legitimate articles from ever seeing the light of day on the site.

I know from firsthand experience. Facing an ever-expanding Wikipedia rulebook and thousands of random volunteer Wikipedia editors – each of whom makes judgment calls that at times can seem illogical – even veteran journalists such as me find posting to Wikipedia a hit-and-miss adventure.

When you’re justified, and Wikipedia is just slow to acknowledge it, persistence pays.

Because Wikipedia values the “consensus of the community through discussion,” it helps to know and network with other contributors to Wikipedia who can offer you valuable feedback – and when necessary, act directly on your behalf.

Danny DeVito

Danny DeVito

Several years ago, in teaching a class on how to use Wikipedia both properly and effectively, I created a sub-community within the broader Wikipedia universe that I call “Criss-Cross Communicators” or CCC for short.

The CCC concept was inspired by the 1987 comedy, Throw Momma from the Train, starring Danny DeVito and Billy Crystal. That film, likewise, drew inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1951 thriller, Strangers on a Train.

SWAPPING PROFILES

The plot of both films is simple. Two men, virtually complete strangers, each want to kill someone. To avoid detection, they agree to “swap” murders. DeVito has no motive to murder Crystal’s ex-wife, and Crystal has no reason to do away with DeVito’s mother. Criss-Cross.

Recognizing Wikipedia’s aversion to self-promotion, my loosely organized CCC group also set as its mission to bring together strangers to help one another and avoid suspicion. Only crime is not our motive. Addressing Wikipedia’s “probably… sooner or later” reasoning for why individuals should not promote themselves, is our intent.

When “later” is much, much, much later – meaning you’ve waited patiently and nothing about you has surfaced on Wikipedia – CCC provides a system whereby members can make the case to fellow strangers that they merit a biographical Wikipedia article (or an entry about a business, product, or service that they have created).

A MODERN WHO’S WHO

With the pre-condition that every CCC “stranger” must objectively qualify for a Wikipedia posting, our private group makes it possible for an entrepreneur in Waukesha, WI, to write a biographical profile of a prominent liability attorney in Augusta, ME, who contributes a post about an inventor in San Luis Obispo, CA, who generates an accurate article about the original Waukesha entrepreneur. Criss-Cross.

CCC is very much a microcosm of the giant, global Wikipedia ecosystem. Only we are a tiny alliance of like-minded men and women who don’t want to leave it to pure chance that our achievements will someday draw the attention of qualified Wikipedians.

Wikipedia warns – and it bears repeating – that those seeking to have their biographies appear on the global community encyclopedia should be mindful of what they desire.

Every biographical profile on Wikipedia is subject to edits by anyone and everyone. That means friend and foe alike.

It can take an extraordinarily long time for Wikipedia to detect and delete content added maliciously by other site users, known in Wikipedia parlance as “vandalism”. Moreover, if your critics chose to post negative – but accurate – information about you, those details may stick with your profile for the remainder of your life, and even beyond.

All the risks and hurdles aside, to my way of thinking, Wikipedia is the 21st century equivalent of Marquis Who’s Who, the noted American reference biographer that has been the definitive arbiter of global leaders and achievers since 1899.

If you are an individual of influence whose lifetime of accomplishment belongs in the public record for posterity, you owe it to yourself and to the general public to ensure that you receive your earned recognition on Wikipedia.

That is simply not a distinction that you should trust to serendipity.

 

 

Want To Join Our Criss-Cross Communicators Group?

CCC welcomes applicants to join our group of “strangers.” To be admitted you must:

  1. Already have a biography on Wikipedia or be eligible for one based on Wikipedia’s published criteria for Biographies of living persons.
  2. Be willing to evaluate, write and post to Wikipedia a biography of a complete stranger who also meets the Wikipedia criteria. (Don’t worry, you can submit your draft to our group for evaluation and help prior to submitting it “live” to Wikipedia.)
  3. Agree to respect the privacy of other members of CCC.
  4. Provide us your actual name, affiliation, title, email, and phone number.

CCC is comprised solely of volunteer members. There is no fee to join our group. To apply for membership or to contact us with questions and suggestions, visit: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/buzz-snatchers.

Read our previous Wikipedia columns:

4 Reasons You Must Harness the Titanic Branding Power of Wikipedia

Can We Quote You? – Wikipedia Loves Citations

If you would like a strong Wikipedia presence to strengthen your personal or business brand, I encourage you to contact Pan Prestige to discover how we can make getting your own Wikipedia listings and citations pain-free. If you already have one or more Wikipedia pages, contact us for a free evaluation of how effectively you’re harnessing the titanic power of the service.