I’ve been working in the PR industry for more than a decade and I’m a firm believer that developing a relationship with a reporter/producer/editor is the best way to become a respected, valued professional. I don’t think that will ever change. But technology has certainly had an effect on the PR/Media relationship. Two relatively new tools, Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and #Journchat reveal a great truth about how the media and PR professions work at their best: Open communication and relevant information can provide real value to all.
HARO is the brainchild of Peter Shankman, founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc. By signing up for HARO, a PR professional receives three emails a day with details from reporters who are looking for information or sources for stories they are working on. The service is free and it works because of a simple rule. Here’s what Peter says:
“By joining this list, just promise me and yourself that you’ll ask yourself before you send a response: Is this response really on target? Is this response really going to help the journalist, or is this just a BS way for me to get my client in front of the reporter? If you have to think for more than three seconds, chances are, you shouldn’t send the response.”
Peter is militant about this rule and as a result the service is respected and trusted by members of the media. More than 30,000 people are currently signed up for the email service, I wouldn’t be surprised if it doubled in size in 2009.
Journchat takes advantage of THE social media platform of 2008: Twitter. Every Monday from 8-10pm eastern, PR professionals, journalists, freelancers and PR students have an open, free-wheeling discussion on how the media and PR folks can work together more effectively for the benefit of both groups. To participate, you simply type your comments in Twitter and include #journchat. By using a service such as search.twitter.com you can search for and follow all Tweets that included #journchat. Last night’s session was two+ hours of non-stop discussion. I have a feeling #journchat is going to explode over the next several weeks and the organizer, Sarah Evans, is going to need to make some modifications to keep up with the growth. You should probably follow her on Twitter as well.
HARO and #journchat aren’t cheats or shortcuts, they are tools that can help PR professionals build relationships which leads to trust and respect, two qualities more valuable to PR people than being able to write well or even talk on the phone.