Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why Forbes Rankings are Useless

Normally, most magazine rankings of the top schools, b-schools, hospitals, destinations, and many other marketable things, burnish the Media brand first, and then go on to become useful testimonial/marketing tools for the names/brands mentioned in the rankings. The poor end-user is just an afterthought. But, sometimes rankings go so bad they hurt the ranked names as well.

Forbes magazine, which has built most of its recent image (and web site traffic) on the basis of its many facile rankings, has now pissed off people from an American college.

From an article in the Chronicle of higher education:

Wheaton College in Illinois is one of "America's Best Colleges," according to's 2010 rankings of public and private colleges and universities. So is Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

One of the Wheatons is No. 59, and the other is No. 244, but neither college is certain which is which.

... two days after Forbes posted its rankings guide, it still listed his college's data (enrollment, tuition, athletics, etc.) alongside the Illinois Wheaton's logo, and vice-versa.

"We do not have a football team," he says. "We have a great athletics program. It just doesn't include football.

Mr. Graca and his media-relations counterparts in Illinois both e-mailed Forbes about the errors but so far have been unable to speak to a live human.
Coming soon: Why most Media events are useless.