Marketing Tool: Help a Reporter Out
Written by: Bill Sherman on Thursday, 3 July 2008, 9:46 AM
One of my friends, Dana vanDen Heuvel, recently sent me a link to a very interesting project: Help a Reporter. This project is the brainchild of Peter Shankman.
The premise is simple, and it relies on the “Strength of Weak Ties” with a digital twist.
- Reporters/writers go on to “Help a Reporter” and describe the type of interview they would like to conduct.
- The site aggregates these requests and sends out an e-mail blast 3x/day.
- If you have a relevant story or quote to share, you can send it to the reporter (who may choose a follow-up interview).
Can this process be abused? Certainly, PR spammers could swarm every request with non-relevant responses that promote themselves or their company. However, if used judiciously, it can increase the quality of reporting (diverse interviewees and insights).
The tool allows reporters to expand their virtual networks (spanning structural holes) and still meet aggressive writing deadlines. In three months, it’s gone from a simple list to over 12,000 subscribers.
The tool creates an opportunity to create a relevant relationship. However, that’s all it is . . . an opportunity. It’s a social networking tool, but it’s not a social capital too. If you reply to a reporter with junk, you’ll hurt yourself more than you’ll help. You still need to invest time to create a meaningful relationship.
However, if you’ve got a great story that fits a reporter’s current need, you can be a hero. Think of it as “speed-dating” for the journalist/PR world.