Help a Reporter Out

I almost had lunch with Peter Shankman the other day, but his client cancelled on him so he cancelled on me. He did promise to reschedule our lunch, though, so I can easily forgive him and look forward to getting together the next time he visits his client near here.

So, who’s Peter Shankman, you ask? Well, he’s what some would call a “serial entrepreneur.” Or perhaps he’s just a lunatic who has jumped out of one too many airplanes. Either way, he’s got some great ideas and some terrific accomplishments

What I wanted specifically to talk about is a new connection community of his that is very cool and useful to business professionals and members of the media–his new venture, Help a Reporter (HARO). The premise is simple: reporters need good sources and businessfolk like marketers, publicists, biz owners, etc., want to be experts. So through Peter’s daily emails, journalists can ask for–and receive–sources for their stories.

There is a catch, though–and it’s not money. (In fact, signing up for HARO as either a journalist or a source is free.) The catch is that you have to reply to a journalist’s query only if your response is on target. Seems a fair trade to me.

And if you aren’t kind and good and, you know, on target, you may find yourself summarily barred from being on the list–and possibly losing out on the opportunity to be a source in an article. Just ask the viaticals lady who willingly signed up for the service then dissed Peter for sending the emails she had signed up for! Yikes! (Frankly, the comments on this blog entry are hilarious!)

So, if you have a business or an expertise in something that you want to share potentially with a journalist–or you’re a journalist looking to find sources for a story–sign up now. I myself have responded to a few journalists with sources appropriate to their requests–and I get nothing out of that except the joy of knowing/hoping that I’ve helped. As a former journalist, I can tell you that finding credible sources, especially on a tight deadline, isn’t that easy to do. I would have been happy in those pre-email/pre-internet dinosaur days if someone had set up a service like this.

So go on. Help a Reporter Out now. Here’s an interview of Peter discussing HARO with David Brain, CEO of Edelman Europe.

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