How a Facebook Group Grew Into a $1 Million Annual Business

by Ashley Pinder

One year ago I saw fast-talking Peter Shankman speak in Orlando. He told a story about being jobless several years earlier in Manhattan and relying on creative methods to get his resume in front of employers. He had recently started distributing a free e-mail service to PR folks and doing all the work himself. That was then and this is now.

Shankman is responsible for the wildly popular Help A Reporter Out service, commonly known as HARO, which now boasts a subscriber base of more than 90,000 business and communications professionals. Created as a way to connect journalists with quotable sources and ideas for stories, HARO is a must-use service for those in PR. HARO e-mails have an unheard of average 90 percent open rate, which Shankman’s advertising team proudly proclaims as “e-mail crack.”

I remember that day hearing Shankman say he might begin to allow companies to sponsor his e-mails through paid advertising. Here in late 2009, not only does HARO accept paid sponsors for its three-times-a-day e-mails, it also allows companies to pay to place job postings and giveaways, all the while generating thousands of dollars of revenue five days a week with little overhead.

Peter Shankman struck me as unique, and as successful as HARO has become, something about the service he created is just as unique as him.

Maybe it’s the fact that Shankman’s team does the write-up of the sponsored company in “his voice;” or that HARO continually threatens to blacklist subscribers if they SPAM others or pitch journalists off-topic; or even that HARO’s plain text rate card (an important tool for ad-generating businesses) includes too many exclamation points and three “P.S.” thoughts after the closing; whatever it is, these attributes combine to make this successful business venture that much more surprising.

I sent an e-mail this morning to advertise and received a reply in less than two minutes … ads are booked through February 2010. I bet Shankman isn’t on the street corner in Manhattan any longer looking for work.

Do you think your company can benefit from HARO? C&P frequently identifies opportunities for our clients monitoring this service each day.

One Response to How a Facebook Group Grew Into a $1 Million Annual Business

  1. These are extremely useful points you have written regarding job resumes. All resumes are all different (as it is a representation of you professionally) so a template only should be only considered to guide you in crafting it.

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