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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 14-Dec-14


Sunday 14-December-14

Get famous -- do yourself an index

I came across a neat way of gaining influence recently famous that I've known about for ages. It was on BBC's More or Less and is called the index. Not heard about it? Of course you have. Here's how it goes.

First do yourself a survey. Pick a controversial topic of you can, or you can just chew into any issue that is bothering you. The most important thing is that it should be about something where a category of some sort is being judged. For example you could run a survey about what people think about hospitals, politicians, beers, tourist attractions and so on. Be a bit more specific in your questions that just asking 'What do you think?', for example asking about cleanliness, taste, communication skills, etc.

Now do some magic sums on the answers to your survey that ends up with a single number that sums up how good or bad the item under investigation is. Then publish the results as an 'index', a 'top ten' that helps people decide which is the best item in the category. For example you could publish an index on the cleanest hospitals, tastiest beers, clearest politicians etc. You can also do a reversal, starting from the bottom up with an index on the dirtiest hospitals, blandest beers, etc. In fact such an index can be rather more newsworthy than to top ten.

You can dress up the index with a big and snazzy report. Hardly anyone will read beyond the front-page list or the executive summary, but the thud factor will add impressive credibility. Your survey also doesn't have to be that careful. In fact statisticians could drive a whole herd of horses through some of the most reported indices out there. All it needs to be is plausible.

In fact you don't have to do a survey at all. If there in information already available, your numerical magic in turning sorted data into a ranked index may be all you need.

Why do this? Well, it can support issues you care about. You can sell the report. You can use the attention you get to link in what you really want to promote. Many consultancies get well-paid work of the back of insights they publish, for example in helping hospitals impure their services.

So there you are. If you want to make money, make a point out just get attention, just publish an index.


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