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Marketing Tool: Help a Reporter Out

Written by: Bill Sherman on Thursday, 3 July 2008, 9:46 AM

One of my friends, Dana vanDen Heuvel, recently sent me a link to a very interesting project: Help a Reporter. This project is the brainchild of Peter Shankman.

The premise is simple, and it relies on the “Strength of Weak Ties” with a digital twist.

  1. Reporters/writers go on to “Help a Reporter” and describe the type of interview they would like to conduct.
  2. The site aggregates these requests and sends out an e-mail blast 3x/day.
  3. If you have a relevant story or quote to share, you can send it to the reporter (who may choose a follow-up interview).

Can this process be abused? Certainly, PR spammers could swarm every request with non-relevant responses that promote themselves or their company. However, if used judiciously, it can increase the quality of reporting (diverse interviewees and insights).

The tool allows reporters to expand their virtual networks (spanning structural holes) and still meet aggressive writing deadlines. In three months, it’s gone from a simple list to over 12,000 subscribers.

The tool creates an opportunity to create a relevant relationship. However, that’s all it is . . . an opportunity. It’s a social networking tool, but it’s not a social capital too. If you reply to a reporter with junk, you’ll hurt yourself more than you’ll help. You still need to invest time to create a meaningful relationship.

However, if you’ve got a great story that fits a reporter’s current need, you can be a hero. Think of it as “speed-dating” for the journalist/PR world.

2 Responses to “Marketing Tool: Help a Reporter Out”

  1. Rajesh Setty Says:

    Bill,

    The incumbent in the space is a company called PRLeads. They solve the spammer problem by charging people who want to receive these leads – about $100 per month. So, only serious people are on the list. Please take a look:

    http://www.prleads.com

    Best,
    Raj

    July 4th, 2008 11:19 am

  2. Bridgette Mongeon Says:

    I LOVE HARO!
    I read your article on (HARO) Help A Reporter Out. I created a video on the subject and I thought I would send it. Here is a blip.tv rendition http://www.creativeendeavors.blip.tv/#1123448 or a You Tube version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23biQbZjWBk that you can share with your readers and even embed in your blog. Each give you code to do just that.

    GO HARO!

    Bridgette Mongeon

    July 30th, 2008 12:21 pm

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