Another word…or two…on HARO

August 27, 2008 at 5:54 pm Leave a comment

Sally Saville Hodge

In my humble opinion, the new Help A Reporter Out (HARO) media matchmaking service comes out ahead of the venerable ProfNet by virtue of the KISS factor, if nothing else.

I did a down and dirty, point-by-point comparison a week or so ago from my perspective as a communications professional who’s been using ProfNet almost since its inception, and who has now added HARO to my bag of tricks.

But here’s the deal. The scuttlebutt I’m hearing from my friends on the other side of the fence is that journalists actually like it too. Who knew? Especially since I’ve lost track of the times I’ve listened to them complain about how so many PR folks abuse the ProfNet service.

By not being an abuser myself is how I met Deborah Cohen, a Chicago freelancer who, among other assignments, writes a weekly small business column for Reuters. I actually knew how to respond effectively to a ProfNet post in February, and she called me minutes later to tell me so, and get more information.

Today, she’s pretty much abandoned ProfNet for HARO. “I’m seeing a lot more legitimate sources on it, instead,” she tells me.

Legitimate?

What she means by that is, primarily, sources who have not been filtered through a PR functionary. Deborah recalls posting on HARO for people who could share their experiences utilizing merchant cash advances or were experts on the topic. She got some very on-target responses, including one from a business owner who had been burned using this financial tool.

“On-target” may be the operative words. She would consider “illegitimate” the number of responses she got off many of her posts with ProfNet that were often not even remotely related to the query and/or broke the accepted rules, like including attachments (massive case studies, for example), waaaaaaay long pitches, and the obligatory follow-up call for the unwary who make the mistake of including their numbers. In short, so-called PR pros who are looking to get lucky even if their clients’ relevance to the query is marginal, at best.

What I find interesting is that apparently, a fair number of non-PR types subscribe to HARO, no doubt a function of the pricing structure (like free), which makes it all the more attractive to savvy bootstrappers, who may just get how to work the deal better than a lot of so-called professionals. That’s a pretty sad commentary.

C’mon people. Let’s all do better. HARO’s Peter Shankman plans a teleseminar to help at 1 p.m. (EST) September 9. Keep checking the HARO site for info as it develops.

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Entry filed under: Media Relations, Resources.

Is HARO a new PR HERO? A few choice words: What makes a good slogan?

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