What's Your Magic Number?
There isn't a day that goes by where I don't receive at least 30 emails with headlines like, "Top Ten X," or "Six Best Tips for Y," or "Five Ways to Maximize Your Presence on Z." For those of us in PR, and in particular for those of us who spend hours working in Technology PR, the number varies. Sure, many can point to David Letterman and Late Night TV for some of the best "Top Ten" list creations but the numbers can be numbing. So, what is the magic number? What number resonates with readers most? What's that one number that makes the most sense and wants us to act, to do something?
When I sent out a quick tweet the other day, asking that same question, I received two responses. Good to know I have at least two followers, but that's a blog for another day. One response mentioned it's always been 10, in honor of the Top Ten. Another response mentioned it was five. Okay, that helped. So, I did what I thought made the most sense, I posed the question to my colleagues. Again, I got some creative responses but overwhelmingly, the number boiled down to three choices: 3, 5 and 10. Here are a few of the reasons provided:
Three tends to be the quintessential number to communicate a ‘wholeness’ message, but five is a number that conveys completeness without overwhelming an audience. I always like a top five.
I give my kids the count of “1-2-3” to do what I say or else…I also notice that instructions, rationale’s, key ideas, all seem to come in “3s” think about ppt slides that typically have 3 bullets to explain…Key ingredient in cooking. E.g., Cajun cooking - onions, celery and bell peppers. Odd numbers look more balanced – flower arranging, a grouping of pictures – so 3 gets you that balance.
Five. Anything more is overkill.
With that said, there was one response for 11. And, lo and behold, the top story on eWEEK on 6/28 was, "11 Internet Security Myths That Delude Computer Users." Maybe one of my colleagues was on to something. So, what do you think, what's your magic number?