Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Be Kind and Help a Reporter

Working in both public relations and print journalism, I understand both sides to the media. Clients want to get coverage and journalists want interesting stories and sources to support those stories. PR gets a lot of flack from the journalism side but the way I see it is journalists need PR just as much as PR needs journalists. It's a symbiotic relationship. Not that I'm saying reporters don't and can't come up with great stories on their own--that's so far from true. But the PR world can sometimes help nudge some new ideas into journalists' heads.

Why not support that symbiotic relationship with a site like Peter Shankman's Help a Reporter Web site? What started out as a Facebook group turned into a full Web site for the publicist who charges nothing for the service and wittingly noted that "the good Karma is immeasurable."

Okay, so some are going to be a little skeptical and question whether this will turn into a ploy for media-hungry publicists to go wild but Shankman is doing his best to ensure that this is a serious way for reporters to get the appropriate sources through the appropriate people.

On the site he states:

This is really the only thing I ask: By joining this list, just promise me and yourself that you'll ask yourself before you send a response: Is this response really on target? Is this response really going to help the journalist, or is this just a BS way for me to get my client in front of the reporter? If you have to think for more than three seconds, chances are, you shouldn't send the response.

This doesn't mean that there isn't potential for things to go awry as pointed out in this blog post from the New York Times' Small Business Blog, Shifting Careers. But with all projects, there's a risk of being taken advantage of.

Profnet has been a major player in linking together journalists and experts but the catch is PR professionals have to pay. Help a Reporter may bring some hefty competition given its no-cost stance.

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