PR Tips —and One PR Rip — for Helping A Reporter Out

The last blog looked at why Public Relations should never be confused with “spin” and “hype.” Today’s edition serves up something more tasty and nutritious — one of the best resources  enjoyed and highly appreciated by publicists, marketing communications folks, reporters and others. I’m talking about Help a Reporter Out — fondly known as HARO — among the many HARO-ites that utilize the FREE online service that allows reporters to post stories they’re working to PR people who then have the opportunity to pitch their clients as sources. Think of it as a killer social media PR app.

Conceived by social media guru and all around marketing/PR wiz, Peter Shankman in New York City (Google him, he’s kinda famous, is in-demand on the speaking circuit, occasionally outrageous and likes to skydive, train for the Ironman and other body-punishing disciplines), HARO is only two-plus-years old and yet its ranks have swollen to more than a 130,000 users both sides of the desk worldwide!

Three times a day, an average of 20-35 queries on subjects ranging from business to technology to life and leisure and other areas are delivered to your desktop with hungry reporters, producers and others from local newspapers to top-of-the-media-food-chain network news machines (potenially) in search of your clients. Herr Shankman floats a brief advertisement for various things with each post, from new and helpful books to professional services, cool, new or undiscovered products, and other stuff. These apparently work as powerfully as HARO’s matchmaking between PR people and media mavens. Plus they are usually a fun read since Shankman has the gift of a good scribe and the gift of gab.

There was/is a big PR news release distributor that charges a hefty fee for a similar service that doses exactly the same thing as HARO,  making it out of reach for many small PR concerns with tight budgets and small staff.  Not any more. HARO is a gift, don’t look it in the mouth.  Subscribe today. As subscriber number 3,000-something, I have been to its mountaintop and placed a client on The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, and other clients in a bunch of magazines, newspapers and websites. And I look forward to it dinging my inbox three times a day like a triple-A PR supplement that you just can’t do without.

Join the party. With the six-digit number of users, of course the competition has become fiercer — but so have the opportunities. The FREE service has been so successful that it was acquired last week by Vocus, a publicly-traded on-demand software company founded in 1992.  The new buyer promises to keep it FREE and upgrade its utility even more.  Stay tuned (did I mention it was FREE?!).

Now, from a fortified PR Tip to a real PR rip, in this “developing story” as they say in the real world that we will explore more on Friday: Someone today, June 16, 2010, put a phony news release on PR Newswire saying that the supply chain of General Mills — a publically traded company — was being investigated on orders from President Obama after several food product recalls. The phony news was reported by several large media orgs and later withdrawn. Talk about helping a reporter out. NOT.

Read the story here:

We’ll chew on this more right after our Breakfast of Champions (go Celtics!) come Friday morning.


For more resources, see the Library topic Public and Media Relations.


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