The Engima of Business ...


Cloaked with a veneer of secrecy that leaves readers to wonder “Who the hell wrote that article?” The Economist takes pride in baffling the garden-variety PR person.

Its editorial decisions can at times seem quirky for the sake of being quirky. I mean, do we really need 499 words devoted to ornithology and a bio-acoustic monitor that can distinguish the chirps from 110,000 species of birds from the hiss of a snake?

Yet, contrary to popular belief, this is not some niche publication only serving the British intellectualazzi. Its readership tips 1.3 million with about half of those copies ending up on American doorsteps.

For this very reason, when we supported the announcement of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk a few years ago, we zeroed in on The Economist to tell the in-depth story. It didn’t hurt that our homework revealed that Economist technology editor Tom Standage had penned a book that also took liberties with the same topic, “The Turk: The Life and Times of the Famous Eighteenth-Century Chess-Playing Machine.”

But more than serendipity, our continued success with The Economist comes down to building the right content that aligns with the book’s approach to storytelling. I touched on the importance of anecdotes using one example from The Economist back in July.

Taking this a step further, we analyzed the tech-related articles (list of articles included at the end of this post) in The Economist, covering the April through November 2008 issues.

Seventeen percent of the content fell under the anecdotal umbrella.

It just goes to show that even high-brow business journalism depends on the amusing, provocative or downright weird to keep the reader’s interest.

Economist Articles Analyzed:

Green iron

November 14, 2008

Moving images into the future

November 5, 2008

A stitch whose time has come

October 29, 2008

A really secret ballot

October 22, 2008

Spinning a good tale

October 15, 2008


October 8, 2008

An order for disorder

October 1, 2008

Silence, please

September 24, 2008

Spot prices

September 17, 2008

Thanks for the memory

September 10, 2008

Speaking in tongues

September 2, 2008

Automated twitching

August 27, 2008

Every move you make

August 20, 2008

Tailpipe power

August 12, 2008

The computer says no

August 5, 2008

Brew your own

July 30, 2008

Whirlybirds go green

July 23, 2008

I, human

July 16, 2008

Liquid logic

July 9, 2008

Virtual fencing

July 2, 2008

Gas, gas, quick boys

June 18, 2008

Making no waves

June 11, 2008

Meshing together

June 4, 2008

The FAST track to better health

May 28, 2008

Enlightenment at last

May 21, 2008

Cores of the problem

May 14, 2008

Blowing at sea

May 7, 2008

Detecting T-rays

April 30, 2008


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