Getting Media Coverage The Easy Way

Last Updated Oct 7, 2008 6:58 AM EDT

There are basically two ways to use PR to get a story in the media: pitch an idea to a journalist and have them do a story, or respond to a journalist seeking information for a story.

The latter, of course, is somewhat easier and infinitely less stressful.

Within the category of responding to queries, there are two subsets: call them the "retail" method and the "wholesale" method.

"Retail": Having personal relationships with journalists so that when they need a source or quote for a story, they call or email you.
"Wholesale": Subscribing to a service that sends you queries from journalists you don't know, allowing you to respond and pitch your angle for the story.
Until recently, the wholesale method has been dominated by ProfNet, a service of PRNewswire. ProfNet's service is free for journalists seeking sources, but costs PR agencies and other practitioners hundreds or thousands of dollars a year to subscribe, depending on size. Nevertheless, legions of PR pros subscribe to ProfNet for the simple reason that it works.

ProfNet now has significant competition from HARO, or "Help a Reporter Out." It's the quirky service run by New York PR guy Peter Shankman, who started it as a Facebook group. But it has grown and grown, and now claims 33,000 members who receive Shankman's daily emails with queries from journalists. Unlike ProfNet, HARO is free to both journalists and subscribers, with Shankman making money on it by selling ads on his emails.

So if you're looking to beef up your access to media queries, check out ProfNet and HARO. And if you're interested in more of the backstory about these two rivals, check out this in-depth article from AdWeek.

  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.