Monday, August 25, 2008

Helping A Reporter Out - Playing The Expert

A couple weeks back I learned about Peter Shankman's Help A Reporter Out service over at the TPE Discussion Group. It's a terrifically simple service: every day, Peter sends out a basic e-mail with queries from reporters. They range from "DIY Waxing (AAAAGH!)" to "The Evolution of Product Design."

Here's a sample query:

4) Summary: ROI for meetings
Category: Business & Finance
Name: Sandi Cain
Email: *****
Title: freelance journalist
Media Outlet/Publication: National Business Publication
Anonymous? No
Specific Geographic Region? Yes (See below)
Region: Western U.S.
Deadline: 5:00 PM PACIFIC - September 2

"Seeking case studies from meeting planners who have implemented
any method of measuring ROI for their meetings within the past two
years. Corporate, association or SMERF planners welcome. Must
include comment on how objectives were determined and how they were
measured. Phone interviews preferred; email responses okay as
second choice.

The theory behind the service is simple: everyone is an expert on something. Today I responded to my first query which asked for uses of the Twitter service (a topic near and dear to my heart). I have no idea if the reporter will actually respond back to me, or if my input will be of any use.

There are two aspects of the service that caught my attention: first, it's such an obvious win-win for everyone. The small business owner, such as myself gets to play the role of expert and gets a dollop of PR, while the reporter gets useful source information.

Second, the whole service appears to be powered by basic e-mail list technology that's been around for the last 10 years (which is ancient in Internet years). Sure, you could have built a fancy Web 2.0 website to solve this problem, but free mailing list software works just fine (for now, anyway).

What a nice example of doing more with less.

Click Here to sign up for HARO (Help A Reporter Out)

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