Bloomberg's chart of the day on Thursday showed that the Tiger Woods Sponsorship Index has faired surprisingly well since the golfer's indiscretions became public. This follows last week's news that the 12 Days of Christmas Index (an aggregate price list of all the items in the carol) has increased by only 1.8% over last year. Since the publication of the Economist's Big Mac Index in 1986 - a purchasing power index seen through the price of a McDonald's Big Mac - light-hearted indices seem to have grown in popularity. From a PR perspective, indices make such an effective profile raising tool because they adhere to an, indeed, embody some of the most fundamental elements of good PR outreach:
They are informational: Indices provide us with new information or a new way of looking at a lot of existing information. They usually concern a lot of things - a large number of people or issues or companies - and thus are more powerful than individual product or company news.
They are easily comprehensible: Indices help journalists and readers make sense of a lot of complex data and often point to an underlying trend or theme. Helping a journalist or blogger make sense of a situation is one of the most effective ways to ensure your voice is heard.
They are repeatable: By their nature, indices are either ongoing, real-time measurements (like the VIX) or monthly, quarterly and annual reviews (the Big Mac Index). For PR professionals this is where indices deliver the most ROI as, providing they are successful and popular they can become an 'invent once, use forever' PR tool.
The popularity of the Tiger Woods and Christmas indices prove that you don't have to be a quantitative genius to develop a successful index. Creativity and timing could be all that stands between you and some great exposure.