When we discussed the 10 Ways to Measure the ROI of Public Relations, we didn’t tell you that it is possible, even without the help of a PR expert, to score great media mentions for your business, on mainstream publications, from Forbes, to Inc.com, the Wall Street Journal and beyond. It’s not a matter of reinventing the wheel, it’s just a matter of knowing the right tools, and making use of them. Tools available to PR pro’s, like HARO (Help a Reporter Out), deliver immediate access that was previously never available within the industry.
Many business owners may already be familiar with tools that connect journalists and bloggers to sources. But there are still many who are fully unaware of such tools, and are missing out on powerful PR strategies that could come without the price tag of a professional agency. Although they do not replace the need of a PR agency to manage tailored campaigns, these channels provide added value to the PR arsenal of a business, especially if the message sent out on pitches to journalists and bloggers is aligned with the overall PR strategy defined by the company’s agency of record. It is also advisable for the PR agency to be briefed that a pitch was sent, to avoid overlapping – most PR companies are already familiar with the ten platforms listed below, and are actively monitoring all opportunities for their customers.
ProfNet from PR Newswire
Around since 1992, ProfNet is a veteran in the industry. It helps connect journalists, experts and PR professionals. This is not a free service for sources (businesses), but it has major benefits, because ProfNet is trusted by mainstream journalists from the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, etc., and by A-list bloggers. Besides, it’s not just journalists and bloggers who are quoting experts (sources). The service claims to have government officials, academic researchers, publishers, industry analysts and more in the network. For sources, ProfNet is easy to use: it’s an email-based model, where the source gets emails with queries from journalists and others looking for expert commentary, and may answer specifically to what applies to her/his business, personal experience and professional expertise. Even more advantages are listed along the benefits of membership.
HARO – Help a Reporter Out
Peter Shankman’s “original baby” has been around, initially as a Facebook group, since 2008. It works just like ProfNet, and it is currently owned by Vocus, whose services (for example PRWeb) are in direct competition to PR Newswire. HARO, or Help a Report Out is more popular than ProfNet, because it is widely based on a freemium model, although there are paid subscription packages too, each with its own benefits. HARO offers sources real-time media opportunities, straight from journalists on a deadline needing a source. Trusted by reporters from Yahoo!, Reuters, Inc.com, SheKnows.com and many others.
MyLocalReporter – is what I called a reversed HARO and ProfNet platform, where business owners can target local media to gain coverage. Reversed, because businesses can use it to search and find local mainstream media journalists for specific niches. Instead of submitting a lengthy email with fluffy press releases, MyLocalReporter forces you to consider the most relevant facts of your news announcement, and send those in your pitch instead. And that’s how MyLocalReporter helps you refine your PR pitch, to better capture journalists’ interest and attention. Unfortunately, not all journalists on MyLocalReporter are opt-in – the database is likely to have countless of reporters who didn’t sign up for the service, which, in a way, defeats the purpose.
Just like HARO, Steve and Bill Harrison’s Reporter Connection is a free daily email service that connects busy journalists with experts available for media interviews. Steve and Bill Harrison are savvy book marketers, with many journalist connections, so the service got some traction, but it failed to grow at the same pace as HARO. Still, worth a try.
MediaSpot.Me is an interesting startup – a combination of LinkedIn and Help a Reporter Out (HARO) in their own words. The video below explains how the service works. One downside: the service doesn’t seem to be available for international users (outside USA and Canada):
SourceBottle is an interesting platform, also designed to help journalists & bloggers find sources. But unlike HARO, ProfNet and Reporter Connection, which rely on email queries to deliver the pitches, SourceBottle makes them searchable online, in a directory of sorts. SourceBottle also provides PR professionals with timely insight into publicity opportunities to help them gain brand awareness for their clients’ products and services. Interestingly, SourceBottle was founded by a “momtrepreneur”, Rebecca Derrington, who is also behind the next tool:
The Media Bag
The Media Bag is rather new – and we will do an in-depth coverage on the service in a couple of days. The Media Bag seems to be designed for businesses that need product review placements. PR professionals and product vendors sign up for The Media Bag, upload their product information — images, descriptions, price — and wait for the review requests to come to them. Journalists and bloggers select their topics of interest and start receiving information via email about relevant products and services that are available for review—all for free.
Muck Rack is designed for communications professionals, to connect with journalists and bloggers in meaningful ways. It’s membership based, with the cheapest plan at $99 per month. All plans include awesome features like: custom media lists which update live as journalists change jobs or positions; alerts when a journalist tweets or links to a story about your company, industry, client or competitors so you can pitch them; find journalists to follow and hire or scoop by searching their beats, titles, tweets and full text articles; pitches and much more.
Around since 2001, Media Kitty looks a bit outdated when you land on its home page, but it claims to have about 9,478 journalists and PR pros active on the network. I mention this because it was initially designed for travel and hospitality, and this is still the main strength of the network. Sources get connections with top journalists and possible placements for their news. Trusted by jurnos from the KFNC FM News Channel 975, Washington Times, FamilyTravel.com and others.
In private beta, ExpertEngine was created to help journalists find experts faster. It’s the brainchild of the people behind Journalistics.com and it doesn’t look very active in its preview stage – only a couple of recent experts are suggesting pitches. It would be interesting to see this evolving – for now, it only makes for a great bookmark, and it cannot hurt to give it a go.
And because HARO is already on the list, and we are supposed to provide 10 HARO-like tools, at number 11 on the list you find Pitching Notes – a tool designed to give PR pros the chance to review and talk about their personal experiences with specific journalists, and to help PR pros make better pitches and manage client expectations when a story is in the works. This is interesting for sources too, because it shows how some bloggers and journalists would like to be pitched, and what will most likely get them to respond to a pitch.