Vocus Acquires Crowdsourcing HARO's Free Social Media News Service

Today, Peter Shankman, the hard-working matchmaker of reporters and sources, and self-proclaimed 'adventurist' sold his company HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to Vocus, an on-demand software company. A true success story - what outgrew its confines as a small Facebook group, HARO's Web site and newsletter service has expanded exponentially to a mailing list of 100k+ journalists and experts.

HARO, dissimilar to other journalists' resource sites that either charge a fee or are part of a bidding auction, is a completely free service that has become the de-facto standard for journalists looking for sources on a deadline. I personally have used the service a number of times and have never been disappointed in the results.

According the the Web site, HARO is currently the largest free source repository in the world, sending out over 1,200 queries from worldwide media each week. Based on the premise, "everyone is an expert at something," the site is not only used by journalists but also those that specialize in various industries, run charities, invest in hobbies, green initiatives - the list goes on, an on.

In this video, sculptor Bridgette Mongeon shares her insights as how HARO has worked for her and her business.

On Shankman's blog
today, he wants his loyal fan base of journalists and experts to know that "nothing changes." HARO will continue to be a free service, and "You’ll still get the most helpful media queries in the world, three times a day, right to your inbox.' He also notes he remain in charge of the operation, "still writing the ads, and updating you with my little blurbs each day."

Vocus CMO Bill Wagner in a Mashable report, characterized HARO as being "in line with where social media is taking public relations - the old world of PR is changing and it's not coming back."  He values the new acquisition as an opportunity for both HARO and Vocus to continue to break down barriers and directly connect newsmakers with sources, essentially turning the process of tradition PR "on its ear."

Dan Martelli, seasoned blogger and executive editor for Technorati, see HARO as a "great test case for those online services that are looking for high adoption quickly." He notes that had Shankman chose to monetize the service, it would have never worked. "This move wouldn't have happened if HARO was launched as a pay service from the outset. The social aspect of the service simply made it accessible to everyone — agency types, client side execs, non-profits and the like," he says.

“HARO is a journalist-driven model for sourcing stories that is more in keeping with today’s social approach toRick RudmanRick Rudman relationship building,” said Rick Rudman, president and CEO, Vocus. “As a free service, HARO is a perfect on-ramp to the Vocus suite for new customers and complements our existing product portfolio.”

One of the most exciting things to happen to PR is social media. It's opened p the opportunity for the news industry's storytellers and networkers to conduct their jobs a more direct fashion - reaching influencers in ways never before possible, and extending reach well beyond traditional PR. HARO is a thought-leader in moving the boundaries of this new tradition forward.