Peter Shankman’s (@skydiver on Twitter) HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a great public relations network to be involved in as a professional. Peter’s free service connects journalists with 30,000 (and growing) sources. Journalists submit a form with specific requests and these requests (and a few thoughts from Peter) are forwarded via email to HARO’s subscribers. On Friday afternoons, Peter includes gift bag requests from event planners, which can be a straight path into the hands of some of the most influential people.

Although Peter recently pulled the plug on bloggers seeking guest bloggers, there are still ample public relations opportunities for professionals and companies of any size in both large and small markets. I understand Peter’s logic on discontinuing guest blogger requests, but I think reform would suffice and  cut off the lazy bloggers. Maybe include reciprocal bloggng requests? Using HARO, those without PR firms or Marcomm departments can even connect with some of the heavy hitting online and traditional media such as Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, as well as niche publications like Hospital News.

I’ve heard that many times these journalists get inundated by pitches from both agencies and little fish alike. The key to getting noticed is relevancy, creativity and credibility, and not spamming reporters with off-topic BS. Brush up on your PR skills and strongly consider using “Social Media Template”, when appropriate. This template was created by SHIFT Communications and is free to use by anyone in the marketing and public relations community. To check it out in action, here is SHIFT’s release via PRNewswire. I could spend a lot of time writing about the SM Press Release (or PR 2.0 Template), but I’ll save it for a another post. In the meantime, for your PR reading pleasure;

PR 2.0 – Brian Solis

Conversation Agent

PR Squared

Copyblogger – Great copywriting resources and ideas

Buzz Bin – Livingston Communications