Chances are good that if you visit any number of popular Internet news outlets like BuzzFeed, Thrillist, and The Huffington Post then you have seen a listicle about some topic or another.
A listicle, for those not in the know, is combination of article and list where a media outlet essentially curates a topic and presents its top picks (or pans) for a given moment in time.
A few examples:
- Top hotels in New Orleans (Travel & Leisure)
- Best tacos in Austin (Bon Appetit)
- Best iPhone apps for productivity (tom’s GUIDE)
The benefits of listicles include buzz for your brand, clicks for your website and qualified leads for your business.
The beauty of listicles is that you can create your own for use on your blog or a guest post on another blog or as a sponsored listicle in an established media outlet – for a nice fee, mind you.
How to write a listicle:
Step 1: Subject.
Pick a topic to write about that relates to your business directly or indirectly. Avoid picking your top 10 products as that would make the listicle appear self serving and turn off readers interested in finding a ‘reasonably’ objective list. Also, decide on a particular angle for the list. Say you are an all-inclusive beach resort in Florida that caters to snow birds. You might try any one of these angles:
- 10 beaches in Florida that cater to seniors
- 7 secret ways to save on airfare to Florida
- 8 best golf package deals for seniors
Step 2: Research.
To be taken seriously, research your topic thoroughly. Figure out what key details you want to share with readers. Say you want to create a list of Vermont bed & breakfasts with the best view of fall foliage, you will need to decide what factors will drive the ranking and why some made it into the list while others did not. For instance, I recently wrote a listicle for Culturemap about the top 10 coffee shops in Austin for professionals. I addressed such items as WiFi network, parking, popular drinks, power outlet availability, etc. In the end, I gave each of the coffee shops on the list a score out of five coffee cups.
Step 3: Layout.
How will you present your listicle? Will it be in paragraph form with a smartly written description of each contender? How about as a bullet list with terse explanations or numeric ratings of specific features? Or perhaps you will go with a blended approach in order to be free to describe something without sacrificing directness. No matter what you decide, you should prepare a summary layout of the finished listicle to use as a kind of template for later.
Step 4: Short, sweet and error free.
A necessary ingredient to successful listicles is brevity. Avoid rambling descriptions or stuffing the piece with too many details. You might consider letting colleagues and friends read the listicle and incorporate their feedback. Plus, let the piece sit for a couple of days and then go back over it with your editorial glasses to pick out any weak sentences or bad grammar.
Step 5: Visual.
To make a listicle pop you should use high quality images. The listicle idea above on golf packages for seniors in Florida should have pictures of manicured putting greens, breathtaking bunker shots and plenty of seniors enjoying a round of links. You can also use vines or GIFS (short looping still photos) to capture an animated version of your subjects – think best Mardi Gras parades or top Spring Break destinations.
Step 6: Byline.
You are providing a media outlet with fresh, free content so the least it can do is provide you with a short byline (author description mentioning your name and business.) with a chance to get a linkback (embedded URL of your website’s domain name). This is the golden nugget you are mining with a listicle – a chance for increased buzz for your name, your brand and business website.
Step 7: Publish.
After you write your listicle you want to see it published, right? Finding the most relevant media outlet will make that job a lot easier. Continuing our example about the Florida beach resort catering to seniors, the author would be wise to approach websites focused on Florida tourism and senior lifestyle. Hyper-local media outlets like to publish listicles about all kinds of topics from where to go for Mother’s Day brunch to the best summer camps for kids. If you can’t find an established media outlet to publish your listicle, approach industry blogs that may have smaller audiences but will still provide you with a strong linkback to your website.
Step 8: Promote.
A no-brainer, really. Promote the heck out of every listicle you publish. Use your own social media assets to spread the word several times over the week the piece is published, then spread mentions out over the next few weeks and months to keep it circulating. Ask friends and collaborators to share as well in order to maximize the reach on social networks. Consider pre-composing tweets to make it easier for friendly mentions. Thank any shares on the platform used in order to show your gratitude (and prime your friends for future shares).
Final thought: don’t take rejection the wrong way. It often takes many tries before you strike gold with a publication, especially in a national media outlet. Keep trying, learn from feedback, make connections with media professionals and eventually you will be rewarded.
About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin tech startup PR firm for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare, consumer and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave about the PR over Coffee blog, feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.