A few months ago, Peter Shankman, a semi-famous social media expert became a full blow Internet celebrity with the launch of Help A Reporter Out, also known as HARO. This is a free service designed to connect you to journalists and bloggers that might be able to help you in your PR efforts. It’s the best way to get free publicity if your company is strapped for cash or you don’t have much experience in PR.
According to his website, he had a lot friends that were reporters who often asked him to connect them with sources for their stories. Instead of referring them to his own sources, he decided to publish the list of queries out to the public. Maybe they would have the information that the reporters needed.
His decision was a smart one. Originally started as a Facebook group, its popularity exploded, and soon its membership exceeded the 1,200-person maximum that Facebook places on group emails. To continue the service, he made it into an email newsletter, which currently goes out to around 40,000 people three times a day.
Sometimes the queries from reporters can be a little off the wall (like a story about “Blasting Music at Work”), but every once in a while, you are bound to find a reporter looking for you to comment in one of their stories. With enough reporters asking questions, you are bound to find that you are, indeed, an expert on something.
It only takes a few minutes to read the emails everyday, and Shankman’s emails tend to be entertaining anyway. When you finally find a reporter that is interested in your story, you’ll be glad you get the emails. It’s pretty much the easiest way to do in-house PR for any small business. It takes very little time and potential rewards are huge, especially considering that major news outlets like the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times regularly ask questions to the HARO community.
DISCLAIMER: Neither I not the Consumer Spending Journal is associated with or is an affiliate of Peter Shankman or HARO. It’s merely a service that we thought should be publicized.