HARO & News Wires: New Way for Journalists to Promote their Work?
by Pam Baker, veteran freelance journalist
These days, freelance journalists and the few remaining mainstream media staffers are pressured to gasp! MARKET their own work. Page views trump reporting quality (yeah, who needs truth when it's eyeballs that sell to advertisers!?) Get the numbers or be gone, say publishers! So we writers rush to push every article via slashdot, reddit, digg, stumbleupon, etc ad nauseum. But now Peter Shankman, of Help A Reporter Out (HARO) fame may just prove to be reporters' surprise! saving grace.
A good many mainstream journalists are already familiar with HARO and the majority find Peter's service tremendously helpful in locating reliable news sources. In general, we journalists post our queries, reap the email responses, do our research, write our stories, and then move on. Rarely do we take a moment to say thanks to the sources (especially those who answered our call but didn't make the story).
In our own defense, that odious behavior comes from our having to do the work of ten journos these days (without the aid of a massive newsroom) AND market our work to the masses. In any case, we are not great at following up with folks on the other side of Peter's table -- no matter how great a feast was just served there.
We are even worse at letting Peter and his HARO gang know when our story is published. Overworked and sweating page view numbers (as publishers and bean-counters continue to scream at us yes! but what have you done for me LATELY!?) we focus on marketing our stories elsewhere and thus completely overlook the value of marketing our work before the collection of news consumers/participants in the HARO universe.
Peter says he'll soon be adding an easy way for journalists to notify HARO that the story behind the query is published. Sure, it's to Peter's advantage to do so. No doubt a continuous list of published stories will give Peter bragging points and help him promote HARO. A published mention is after all the Holy Grail of PR, especially given the rarity of media exposure these days in light of harsh cutbacks, layoffs and outright media crashes. But, such will also help journalists promote their work as HARO members click on the stories and pass on links to clients, friends and public places on the Web.
There has always been an uneasy relationship between journalists and PR pros. Today is no different. But what is different is the journalists' need to self-promote and Peter's HARO can inadvertently help with that. So can his competitors.
The next time you have to promote your article and/or your brand as a journalist, look for help in places you already work within -- like HARO, Profnet (PR Newswire), Businesswire, and NewsWise.
Will news services promoting articles buy favor from journalists? No, they won't. Good journalists don't play that game. Wires and services will have to be content with promoting themselves and their clients this way -- the byproduct will be that it also promotes individual journalists.
However, aggressive article promotion could attract journalists to using services like HARO, ProfNet and NewsWise much more often. Indeed, a brilliant way to attract journalists would be to add a clip service and automatically list stories by journalists that used your news service. THAT would help tons as it would reduce the time we journalists spend on marketing (an activity we detest, btw).
What are your thoughts on how journalists can promote their articles to readers?
UPDATE: Peter Shankman had this to say to me and fellow reporters "We encourage you to post all your completed stories at http://facebook.com/helpareporter - close to 10k fans in there, all waiting to read your work!!"