We’ve all seen the “best places” lists that national publications like to promote. Lists like “100 best places to live” or “100 worst places to work” and everything in between seem to saturate the marketplace. Communities at the top of the list tend to issue news releases promoting the “woo hoo” factor of a national publication’s “objective” analysis of communities.
Today I ran across a story on MSNBC’s website that delves into the business of best places lists.
Why is America suddenly thick with a bumper crop of alleged best places? It’s pure marketing fueled by a good dash of old-fashioned hometown pride. The lists sell magazines and lure Web site visitors. Fortune Small Business counted 9 million visitors to its online best-places list in April. That’s more traffic than the magazine’s entire Web site got the previous month, according to Web editor [Stacy] Cowley.
“It seems like nothing hits people so hard as talking about where they live,” Cowley said. “They do care a whole lot. Of all the lists we could run, talking about where people live is the one what makes people the most passionate and the most vocal.”
Did you catch that? It seems nothing hits people so hard as talking about where they live.
People are passionate and vocal about the place they live.
The concept of place is so basic and so crucial to our lives that we take it for granted. Rarely to we think about the emotional responses associated with being in our favorite places. Rarely do we think about why the place is special or how it shapes what we think of ourselves.
All the same, the minds that sell magazines and online content have figured out that we care much more about the place we live than, well, maybe not quite as much as we care about American Idol or Dancing with the Stars. But Forbes couldn’t very well get away with putting winners of those shows on the cover.
Place. It’s the thinking person’s passion.