How One PR Pro Used Facebook to Connect Hungry Journalists to Hungry Publicity Seekers

Talk about moving the free line!

Peter Shankman didn’t start out thinking that he’d be giving the well-known PR service ProfNet a run for their money when he decided to post emails he was already getting from reporters asking if he had sources for their stories to his Facebook Page. He decided to call this free service “Help a Reporter” – it helps hungry reporters looking for sources connect with hungry sources looking for publicity.

What is interesting is that he was already getting reporters emailing him to help them find sources, so he has some credibility and influence with this audience. They have recognized that he is skilled using a new resource – social media – which makes him attractive to say the least. (Let’s face it, besides us information marketers and life-long learners, most people would rather not learn something new, they just want the answers.)

So he decided to take action to help them by exposing them to his existing network, using his already existing Facebook profile. Free to use, simple to execute – reporters emailed him their queries, and he posted them on his profile. A lot easier than answering them all one on one.

Then word hit the street – freelancers (who obviously must have been a part of his network) started telling friends, then publicists (also probably already in his network) realized these were prime opps for additional ways to spread the word about their clients. He created some buzz by buzzing it on his own blog, shankman.com. An A-list NY Times blogger wrote a nice post (notice, at this point he still hasn’t asked anyone to actually help him promote this service)

The free service got so popular he had to move it off of his Facebook Page and onto it’s own site at www.HelpAReporter.com.

Now, here’s where the story takes a counterintuitive twist…because it’s STILL FREE!

He clearly could have monetized it, because it’s clearly meeting a huge want in the market – which he says doesn’t surprise him that reporters are seeking an alternative to ProfNet. He says they get tons of queries from their posts there, but so many of them are “misguided”. (and he firmly says he will dump list members who don’t send a response that is on target in his welcome email)

Reporters report that they get a lot more on-target answers from Shankman’s list. Another plus is they get fresh faces from many of the smaller PR folks and even entrepreneurs themselves who can’t necessarily afford the pricey ProfNet service.

Maybe at some point in the future he will start to charge. However, my guess is that he’s getting a lot more visibility and more business doing what he really loves to do anyway this way.

There’s a lot more meat to this story here:
Tired of ProfNet? Start Your Own PR-Journalist Service

What could you do that would provide a similar effect to your target audience? I’ve got some ideas now myself that would help my expert authors…stay tuned!

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