Help A Reporter Out (HARO) Joins Vocus Family

Vocus kicked off its 2010 User’s Conference with a huge announcement of interest to PR professionals and journalists alike: Vocus has acquired Help A Reporter Out (HARO). HARO has built an impressive base of users over the past two years, becoming one of the most popular PR services. HARO’s success is largely due to its foundation as a journalist-friendly PR service.

From day one, HARO founder Peter Shankman (@skydiver) has gone to great lengths to protect journalists from the persistent problem of PR spam – the sending of off-topic pitches to journalists. By being strict about the rules of engagement for pitching journalists through HARO, the service has also become one of the most popular tools used by journalists in the news gathering process.

While I suspect a lot of long-time HARO purists will worry about how the service will change once it becomes part of the Vocus offering, both sides know users don’t want that. According to Peter Shankman, “Nothing will change.” He’s joining the Vocus team and will be working with the company on further extending the value of HARO to users, as part of the Vocus family – while preserving the integrity of HARO, and finding ways to make it even better.

Bill Wagner, CMO for Vocus, reinforced that HARO will not change, assuring me that the company plans to keep HARO free – but they want to make it even better. He says, “HARO is staying free, we’re just going to make it more valuable for users. We’re still exploring our options here, but want  users to know we’re not getting rid of anything that’s there.”

Wagner hinted at some ways Vocus might expand HARO in the months to come. For starters, he said Vocus will work to educate its 500,000 U.S.-based journalists about HARO. “HARO currently has about 30,000 journalists using its service, while we have more than 500,000 U.S. -based journalists in our database. The first thing we’ll do is work to educate those journalists on the benefits of using HARO.”

This is the most significant piece of this announcement for me. Vocus has the reach and ability to significantly expand the number of journalist users for HARO – which means more queries and PR opportunities for PR users. It’s realistic that Vocus could grow beyond 100,000 journalists within the next year.

Another area Vocus may expand on HARO is around social media monitoring and analytics. While users can subscribe to different categories of queries through the service, Wagner envisions being able to customize searches and monitoring to alert users as soon as relevant queries are generated.

It will be exciting to see how HARO evolves as part of the Vocus family.

What do you think? Do you think this is a good move for HARO and Vocus? Share your thoughts.

About Jeremy Porter 214 Articles
Jeremy Porter has been passionate about the intersection of public relations and journalism since studying both Public Relations and Journalism at Utica College of Syracuse University in the late 90s. Porter launched Journalistics in 2009 to share his ideas and insights around both professions and how trends and developments in modern day marketing, communications, and technology impact those working in these fields. Porter also values the traditions and history of both professions and regularly shares his perspective in these areas - and related topics geared toward the next generation of journalism and public relations professionals.

8 Comments

  1. It sounds like great news for Peter Shankman. I trust him to make the right decisions. But unfortunately, I don’t trust Vocus to make the right decisions. I hope it all turns out like Peter says it will. I like HARO the way it is.

  2. I second the first comment. Congrats to Shankman, based on his “OMG advertising is sold out for months” messaging I hope he got a nice chunk of change. He created something of value so good for him. Remains to be seen what changes are in store — will Vocus be as eager to banish bad actors?

  3. I use HARO!! I didn’t think that many people new about it. I mean the emails get intense sometimes but it helps keep me focused and writing about relevant topics for Financially Digital. Like those that commented before me I hope that Vocus stays true to their focus on improving HARO’s reach without changing how we interact with it.

  4. I congratulate Peter on his big payday, which is really what this is – assuming Vocus stock does ok. But those of us who went through all the dot com acquisitions in the late ’90’s know that “nothing will change” is the mantra of someone who’s never been acquired by a publicly held corporation. At first, nothing will change. Then everything will change. I just hope the employees got some nice options packages in the deal – although by the way they’re all screaming joyfully “we were acquired” they must have. Or they’re all incredibly naive about what happens in this type of deal.

  5. I think this was cheap way for VOCUS to stop competitors from advertising to the niche audience of independent PR people and overcome their SPAMMER reputation with press.

    Have you noticed all the ads are now for people hawking books? MyMediaInfo, Cision, PRNewswire, etc will no longer dominate this ads. No changes my a$$

  6. Only problem I have with HARO is that, as an editor, I also need to find people to contribute articles. Many of my PR sources have started using HARO and have told me so, but I posted a query for contributions and received a reply from the service that I could not use it to solicit contributions. With more editors being pressured by their publishers to harvest expert content from outside sources and with staff layoffs making in-house reporting tougher and tougher, it seems HARO should allow all journalists to use the service whether it’s requesting interviews or contributions.

  7. Hey Jeremy… I’m bored at an airport, so I was googling and looking up random stuff, came across your fun post from when this happened last year…

    Guess I just wanted to say to Bonnie Harris:

    NYAH NYAH! Told you nothing would change! 🙂

    Hope you’re well, Jeremy!

    🙂

    -Peter

    • Better late than never on the comment… I’ll take it.

      I’m glad things didn’t change. Thanks for stopping by to leave a ‘mature’ comment Peter. 🙂

      Let me know if you have any suggestions for improving the blog.

      I hope you’re well as well. JP

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