Sunday, November 9, 2008

Help a Reporter Out

Prior to my current state of unemployment (not a big fan, feel free to rescue me :), I worked with Quixote Group, a PR, marketing and market research agency in Greensboro. The folks at QG can do great things, sort of like Ghostbusters - "no job is too big, no fee is too big!" ~ End ex-employer plug ~

During my time with QG, I did my fair share of media relations. You name it - email pitches, cold calls (hate that), mailings, desksides, gifts, tours and all the like while establishing relationships with more than a few media contacts along the way. The one gripe they all have with PR folks is that many of us spam the hell out of them with off-target pitches (in general, this obviously doesn't apply to everyone in the profession). "Why don't more of you take the time to learn about our publication and pitch the appropriate editor?" they would ask me. "Well, I thought that's what we did..." (Insert naivity comment)

As simple a concept as this may appear, I'm still surprised to hear how many PR people fail to pitch on-target and seemingly refuse to do so despite clear and concise feedback from the media. Alas, my griping about the obvious has a point to it today!

There is a young "CEO, Entrepreneur and Adventurist" named Peter Shankman who developed a newsletter (more of a service really), called Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Nuts and bolts: media from across the country send story requests to Shankman who then emails them to PR and marketing pros so that both parties can get what they want (you can sign up here). Media get expert sources and relevant story content, and PR people get their clients in front of media that actually want to cover their product, idea, story, etc. It's a win-win situation. The network is well over 30,000 strong now with regular inquiries from the likes of USA Today, NY Times and many regional, industry, consumer and other media across the country. Tip: Don't think you can sign up and then blast irrelevant pitches to these media - Shankman will out you in front of the entire group; I've seen it happen (pretty funny actually :)

So basic. So genius. So check it out!

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