By The Numbers

By The Numbers child page title

The guys on American Pickers are the kindred spirits to my brother-in-law Randy. He’s turned his two-car garage into a museum of found objects.

Every time my husband and I visit, Randy has added more new treasures—old musical instruments and movie posters are a particular passion, as are motorcycle signage and helmets.

This week when we went, he had a 2010 book of lists from The Business Journal of the Triad.

Certainly it’s hard to predict what Randy will turn up, but I wouldn’t have guessed he’d be interested business journalism. Then again, The Business Journal’s lists are so popular, they have one in almost every weekly edition, and they sell the complete book of the year’s lists at a premium price.

We all spent about an hour poring over the information, which ranged from the area’s largest employers to the companies in the area that are winning small business loans. Everyone, from my 20-something niece to the 70-something grandmothers, had something they wanted to look up. Helpfully, the book is supplemented with an index of both names of people and names of companies.

The conclusion for this editor: Numbers make news.

And it’s a conclusion, a strategy that I’ve seen played out in custom content. Field sales people in the financial services industry use research reports, census data and other numbers to persuade prospects to make a purchase. At Pace Communications, not only do we help create that client-facing, number-rich content, we may also create sales training materials and one-sheets that help the field use content strategically.

Many organizations bring the effort full circle: They commission research and disseminate it not only to their clients, but also to the whole media ecosystem. Wells Fargo, for example, is partnering with Gallup for a number of polling and research initiatives, including the Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index.

Americans aren’t very optimistic for 2011, but that still made for engaging content. Wells Fargo promoted the survey results on their own Web properties, and in appearances such as this one on CNBC.

Like I said, numbers make news.