I’ve recently subscribed to a new service for journalists and public relations professionals, and it’s so great that I decided to blog about it.
Help a Reporter Out, affectionately abbreviated to HARO, was formed by Peter Shankman, founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc., a boutique Marketing and PR Strategy firm located in New York City. He is rather famous in the public relations world and has his hand in many networking ventures. He also has a funny blog– I’ll probably reference it again soon.
Through HARO, Shankman sends out up to three e-mails a day to “source” subscribers (public relations professionals) with a list of requests from journalists. This way, PR people can identify journalists’ needs across the country and find places where their clients fit. This helps the journalist find sources for their stories, and help public relations professionals get their clients in the news and reinforce messaging. In addition to being an incredibly useful, free service, Shankman’s e-mails are usually quite entertaining to read.
Although the relationship between PR people and journalists has historically been somewhat adversarial, I feel that the tide is turning. As newsrooms decrease in size and budgets tighten, journalists are becoming increasingly willing to work with public relations people. In fact, it seems like they rely on them for story ideas much more now. I’m glad to see this happening, because it sure is good news for me. (But I still find pitching media INCREDIBLY intimidating.)
HARO takes a risk by giving out journalist contact info, because not all PR people make sure their pitches are on target with the journalist’s needs. This gives PR people a bad rap, and it looked at as spam e-mail. But Shankman keeps pretty good tabs on this kind of thing, and I think people are mostly respectful of the service.