PR blog lists: not so much who, more how

Keep calm, it's not rocket science
What’s the first thing you do when you come across a list of blogs, ranked in an order of some kind with ‘1’ being the best ranked?

a). Post comments about the list to highlight the blogs that aren’t in it that you think should be?

b). Look for mention of yourself and, depending on where you find yourself in the ranking, tell everyone?

c). Dismiss it out of hand as being hardly credible – “it’s just a list” – and a waste of time?

d). Look for explanations of the measurement and ranking methodologies to help you decide whether the list is worth your attention or not?

Yes I know, it is a bit of a ‘leading list,’ as it were, contrived a little to conclude with my preference.

But it does seem to me that a-to-c have been the popular choices I’ve seen online recently about a handful of blog lists that have been published this month that rank PR bloggers. I’m included in these lists although that fact has no bearing on why I’m writing this blog post.

Specifically, about these two lists:

1. 60 of the best global PR blogs published by Forth Metrics on July 24. Forth Metrics is the firm behind the Inkybee blogger outreach web service.

What interests me about this list is the explanation Inkybee goes into on why they came up with it, noting “what this list does do is demonstrate the power of Inkybee to assimilate relevant blogs according to a ‘linguistic fingerprint’ of a subject matter and present them for discussion.”

That sets the scene right away in terms of what to expect. Note the title is “60 of the best global PR blogs” rather than “The 60 best global PR blogs.” Quite a difference.

When you take a look at the version of the list you can manipulate in terms of what it ranks, you can choose to sort the 60 blogs and bloggers listed by overall rank, or by visibility, engagement or relevance. Each of those metrics is explained in the detailed Top 60 Lists: Methodology text.

And note the disclaimer:

We recognise that there is no definitive right answer to “the Top 60? and we’re not saying that the blogs listed are any better than any others not listed. We’re merely using this as a demonstration of Inkybee technology.

Backing that up, Inkybee makes multiples reference to its request for feedback and comments about the list and the methodology, about which there are some thoughtful responses in the blog post comments.

2. Top 50 UK PR Blogs 2013 published by The B2B PR Blog on July 18. The blog is managed by Heather Baker, founder of B2B PR consultancy TopLine Communications.

I recognize many of the UK blogs and bloggers mentioned.

My first thought was – how did they come up with this list? I couldn’t see any reference to how they did it.

So I wanted to know the research, analysis and ranking methodologies – the more I understood about the background to it, the more it would help me decide whether such a list is worth not only my attention but also referencing it in future and recommending it to others as a ‘good list.’

Heather pointed me to Top 50 UK PR Blogs FAQs, written to explain how they did the list in 2012 (I missed seeing that one), saying that “the methodology was much the same this year.” The FAQ outlines the three steps they took in compiling the list and then ranking it; I found step three being the most interesting:

3. We scored the blogs: We chose to score all 74 blogs [in a long list] on 10 criteria. We’re not going to share the specifics but we will let you know that we chose ten factors (from Alexa ranking to various measures of social engagement) that we know are relevant and we weighted them equally so that no single score or dimension could significantly influence the outcome. However, where two blogs achieved the same final score, we used their Alexa score to order their ranking.

Helpful and it certainly lets me see the list in a better context of relevance.

So, two lists of PR bloggers from two different perspectives.

Both lists are worth my attention as I understand more about how those included in the lists came to be included, as well as knowing a bit about the people and the companies behind the lists.

Which lets me make a point to those who compile such lists – please explain your methodology in detail so that it becomes an easier task to decide whether to give your list any attention or not. You need to do that proactively: don’t wait to be asked about it.

Lists like these would be places I’d include in my research when I’m looking into discovering influencers, for instance, and learning more about them. They’re not the only nor the most authoritative places I’d use, and I don’t limit this to PR blogs and bloggers. But I would certainly have them in my research toolbox.

Here are a few other lists and free resources I use that provide detailed information on  the ‘how’ – thus adding to their credibility and making them worth your attention – or are from sources that have already demonstrated their credibility and trustworthiness:

  • BlogLevel, a blog measurement tool created by Jonny Bentwood at the Edelman PR firm. It offers multiple ranking methods and explains in technical detail (check the equation) how its methodology works. (See also: TweetLevel.)
  • Top 50 Public Relations Blogs from Cision US, updated in June 2013. Predominantly US blogs, some Canadian. I see none outside North America. Cision says: “The list is ranked by user views per month and inbound links, using data from Cision’s media database.”
  • PR Blogs UK Top 10 from Cision UK, updated in January 2013. Cision says: “Cision’s blog ranking methodology takes into consideration social sharing, topic-related content and post frequency. Profiles of these PR Blogs and their authors can be found in the CisionPoint Media Database.”
  • AdAge Power 150. A venerable list started by Todd Andrlk in 2007 that today lists over 1,100 marketing and PR blogs worldwide. It was discontinued this month by AdAge. I think it will have continued validity at least for the rest of 2013 as it was last updated this month. I intend to still use it during this time (I suggest you download an OPML file of all the listings while you can).
  • Influencer-ranking tools and services like Klout, Kred and PeerIndex. Whatever you personally think of these, and the overall concept of influencer ranking, they are useful tools as part of your overall research approach.

What other free resources would you add  – for example, lists that explain their methodology – that you think would be worth paying attention to?

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Hugh Anderson (@hughforth)

    Thanks for your thoughts on this, Neville. As an accountant and analytics geek, I definitely fall into the same camp as you on this – methodology is all important. We know the result is imperfect and can never be definitive – hence, as you point out, it is “60 of the best”.

    It is also our first attempt at curating a list in this way, so the science behind it will get better, which is as important when researching a subject matter in detail, i.e. in Inkybee, as when curating a List.

    And watch out for an interesting follow-up on it later this week with a different spin. I’ll be sure to forward the link to the methodology straight to you :)

  2. andydrinks

    In the case of the Cision list, it’s just a bit of content marketing isn’t it? Just want you to sign up for the sector-based blog lists?

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