Does HARO’s Larger Audience Equal Better Results?

The Flack blogger and Flatiron Communications Principal Peter Himler asked the question this week, in attempt to determine if journalists get better results from open, crowded sourced services like Help A Reporter Out as compared to closed subscription services such as ProfNet.

As Himler stated, “HARO’s users increasingly come from outside the PR world and I wonder whether this really is such a good thing.” Himler then points to a mom entrepreneur blogger who seems to be taking advantage of the HARO, which we’ve seen frequently. Himler tells PRNewser the post was sparked by that mom entrepreneur blogger, and that he “began to wonder whether this big unwieldy crowd was a good thing or bad thing, which brought me around to the notion of the redeeming value of the PR pro in a crowd-sourced environment.”

It is an interesting question, and in our conversations with journalists, especially at larger media outlets, using either service tends to be frowned upon as reporters are expected to build out their source lists and not have to rely on services (paid or free) to help them along. Regardless, this by no means indicates reporters aren’t using these services. A quick scan of ProfNet or HARO queries will show many queries from a variety of media outlets, small and large.

HARO founder Peter Shankman responded to Himler’s post and made several points:

1) Everyone who uses ProfNet also uses HARO (since HARO is free) but not everyone who uses HARO uses ProfNet (since Profnet is not free).

2) HARO gives reporters ‘main street’ sources; not just ‘experts’ pitched by PR pros.

3) HARO doesn’t necessarily consider ProfNet to be a direct competitor since HARO is a free service geared towards small businesses while ProfNet is a paid service geared towards agencies.

However, we still haven’t addressed Himler’s initial question – with which service do reporters find better results?