'Most popular' boxes can be a valuable reference tool

A popular feature on media Web sites is the "most popular" ranking, which can be a valuable reference tool for PR pros looking for trends to tap in their media relation's efforts.

A popular feature on media Web sites is the "most popular" ranking, which can be a valuable reference tool for PR pros looking for trends to tap in their media relation's efforts.

"We have to keep our fingers on the pulse of what the general public wants," says Jennifer Conway, SAE with Dotted Line Communications. "We're using those boxes to craft our ideas around compelling thoughts from the general public."

At a time when PR professional-journalist relations are tense over untargeted PR pitches, "the box" indicates what reporters and editors are interested in hearing about.

"[It's] most useful [for] getting a good understanding of [how] to tailor pitches around what journalists are writing," Conway adds.

This box also reveals what might be most popular on news aggregation Web sites. Digg, for example, is a complimentary resource that is media-outlet agnostic.

"The easiest connection [to the most-viewed box] is to look at a site like Digg," says Doug Winfield, VP of Waggener Edstrom's digital strategies group. "Through the ratings... of others, stories rise to the top."

Greg Jarboe, president and cofounder of SEO-PR, says the information culled from the most popular box on individual media outlets can be limited. However, he sees the value of coupling the information with sites like Digg to see what is going from the blogosphere to the mainstream media.

"There are [millions] of active bloggers in the US and there's no way to focus on all of them," he says. "But if you know that the top 100 are being pulled into the mainstream media, focusing becomes a little more straight-forward."

Key points:
  • The "most popular" box taps into what readers and journalists are interested in
  • It shows what is moving from the blogosphere to mainstream media
  • It is also useful for media relations and search optimization strategies

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