Like me, Peter Shankman is in the marketing and PR biz. Unlike me, he has figured out a way to grow a 60,000-member mailing list. How did he do it? By offering a matchmaking service for journalists and sources.

Tired of opening his Rolodex every time a reporter called him to find a quote for a story, Peter set up a Facebook to “Help A Reporter Out.” Reporters emailed their story queries to Peter, Peter emailed the queries out to everyone on his list, and people who knew (or were) sources contacted the reporters.

Peter isn’t the first to launch such a service. PRNewswire’s ProfNet claims 14,000 subscribers. If you have to ask how much it costs (and yes, you have to ask) you can’t afford it. (One wonders how HARO will impact ProfNet’s business model.)

By offering a service that’s elegantly simple (and totally free for both journalists and sources), Peter has not only helped out many a reporter, he has also helped out many a PR maven and client. And now, with a five-figure subscriber base, Peter is selling ad space at the top of every email. So it’s helping his bank account, too.

I just love it when everybody wins.

Speaking of wins, a couple of weeks ago I responded to a HARO query from an Associated Press writer doing a story on online dating. She wanted to know how online daters deal with all the winks, emails, waves, nudges, etc. that online dating generates. As an online dating veteran, I responded with a pitch about my own personal dating site, which I use as a screening mechanism.

Incredibly, the reporter liked my pitch and interviewed me. Even more incredibly, the AP sent a photographer to snap me working on the laptop. And most incredibly of all, the story went out on the AP wire today. So far it has been picked up by a couple of community newspapers. Just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Clip to Evernote