Ever find yourself frantically looking for a source -- an expert on concussions among college athletes, for example, or someone who has done research on grade inflation?
Peter Shankman wants to help. Shankman, who describes himself on his Web site as a "CEO, entrepreneur, adventurist," has launched helpareporter.com. The idea of this new social networking site is simple: to connect reporters looking for sources with people who have knowledge and something to say.
"I built this list because a lot of my friends are reporters, and they call me all the time for sources," Shankman, founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc., a boutique Marketing and PR strategy firm in New York City, says in his introduction to the site. "Rather than go through my contact lists each time, I figured I could push the requests out to people who actually have something to say."
I checked with Shankman about whether he takes requests from students working for college publications. "Of course I do!" was his speedy response.
If you're looking for sources, email Shankman your query, with "QUERY" in the subject line, and he'll post it to his list.
PR Newswire has run a similar service, called Profnet, since 1992, but it has restrictions on student journalists. The service cannot be used for class assignments, only for stories that will be published. And it will only accept queries from students in a university-level journalism program.
Phil Gomes, a VP with Edelman Digital, muses in his blog today on the effect homegrown services like helpareporter.com will have on Profnet. "How will ProfNet and its ilk defend its brand when pretty much anyone can/will develop a similar service?" Gomes writes.
Give helpareporter.com and try and let me know how it goes. Post a comment here.