How HARO, The Email Newsletter, Grosses $1+ Mil A Year

His business model is pretty basic. Reporters fill out a form on Peter Shankman’s web site describing the source they’d like to interview. Three times a day, he collects those requests and emails them to 100,000 people who want to generate publicity for themselves, their companies or their non-profits. And the revenue comes from the ads at the top of the emails.

It’s called HARO, Help A Reporter Out, and Peter says it brings in over $1 million annually. I invited him to Mixergy to talk about how he built it and why competitors haven’t been able to match his service even though the concept is so basic. (Don’t stop listening to the interview until you get to that section about the competition. It may be the best part.)

Peter Shankman is Social Media CEO Adventurist, founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO). You can read his blog on Shankman.com or say hi to him on Twitter.

 

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Full Interview Transcript

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Andrew Warner: Hey everyone its Andrew Warner, I’m the founder of Mixergy.com

Home of the ambitious upstart. And as you guys know i like talking to entrepreneurs about how they start their businesses, i like learning from their experiences.

And I’ve got an entrepreneur here that Ive been very curious about for a while now.

His name is Peter Shankman, he’s the founder of Help A Reporter Out.

And, Peter, for anyone that doesn’t know what Help A Reporter Out (is) Can you describe it for them?

Peter Shankman: Sure! It is the most widely used resource in the world that connect journalists with sources.

If you are an expert in anything, sign up for free, and you get three emails a day, with roughly 50-60 queries from journalists all over the world, asking

for information on anything ranging from jet fighters to Family Guy to Miley Cyrus. Whatever you can answer you email the reporter directly and you get quoted from the paper.

Its 100 percent free

Andrew Warner: Okay, and one of the reasons why i wanted to interview you is that, when people talk about

the potential, the business potential behind email news letters, your company, your news letter is the one that they keep bringing up.

And the stats that I’ve seen are, you have 100,000 people subscribed to Help A Reporter Out, is that true?

Peter Shankman: That is correct

Andy Warner: And, from what Ive read in the Observer, you bring in about a million dollars in revenue?

Peter Shankman: A little more than that, yup.

Andy Warner: A little bit more than a million now?

Peter Shankman: Yup.

Andy Warner: Okay, we’ve talked about the content of the emails that go out three times a day. Its what people who are reporters

are looking for. And if you respond the way that i did to a couple of queries on there you end up on

the reporters blogs or in news papers and so on.

Where does the revenue come from?

Peter Shankman: There is a small text ad, its about four lines long at the top of each email.

And those little text ads generate all the revenue.

Andy Warner: And its just that one text ad, there are not other revenue resources?

Peter Shankman: Nope. My goal is not to spam my people. My people go to the list

and subscribe because they know what they are going to get out of it. And that is those

quality leads every single day. So we don’t change that, the function works. And so as such

there is one small add. People are happy to use that to look at that one small ad. We don’t

put anything else on there. There is no reason to start diluting the list at all.

Andy Warner: I see, and how long have you been running this?

Peter Shankman: It launched as a face book group in summer of 2007, and it moved to the web in March of 2008

Andy Warner: And you say moved to the web, but from what i saw on the website its——–

Peter Shankman: Moved to an email list as opposed to a face book group.

Andy Warner: Why did you decide to do it as an email group instead of putting it on a web page?

Peter Shankman: Several reasons, email is much more interruptive, if you are a journalist and your deadline

is 11:00 am, getting someone to just happen to look at a website, you know, doesn’t really help you.

I did not want my content indexed by Google, because reporters don’t want their information on the web.

They don’t want their emails being picked up by spam bots. There’s nothing indexed. One of the rules is

that you do not

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Interviewee: …One of the rules is that you’d not post what we give you on the Web. And then, finally, end result is, at the end of the day, one of the oldest tools on the Internet is email. Why reinvent the wheel?

Andrew: I talked to the founder of 5:12 and he said that one of the reasons that they decided to go with email newsletters is that once you get a customer in the door, you keep them in the door. Versus a website where, when somebody pops in, they’re just as likely to pop out and you have to hope that they’re going to come back and market to them to bring them back. Is that one of the considerations?

Interviewee: Yes. Well, it’s definitely a factor. One of the benefits of what I do on HARO is [xx] our content is so decisive, you need to read our queries [xx]. The day you delete the emails without reading it is the day that a reporter from a major publication is looking for something like you do and you missed it. So, we’re very, very into having our sources be aware of that, you’re giving them a very, very high [xx] because of that.

Andrew: Do you have a couple of success stories that you can share with us?

Interviewee: Countless. I have people who used HARO and winded up on…from one article that they got quoted in HARO, they wounded up on a shark tank, for instance. I have other people who have been on HARO and there’s one who had a company in the Midwest and he wants [xx] to close down because of the economy. Then he winded up in a Wall Street Journal article and now he has more business that he knows what to do with. I mean, everyday, I get emails like that, every single day.

Andrew: Is it mostly individuals who are opening up the emails to see if they could find reporters looking for them?

Interviewee: It’s individuals, it’s companies, it’s small businesses, it’s mom and pops, it’s Fortune 100s. You know, if you are in charge of marketing your PR for your business, there’s no reason not to use it. That’s really the most logical thing to say that it’s free, you don’t have to request a budget spend for it. There’s no reason not to get the email.

Andrew: It’s three times a day, that’s a lot of email to send to people. Why did you decide to do it three times?

Interviewee: If we did it once a day, let’s say we did it at 12 o’clock, once a day. At 2 o’clock, reporters send this email and their deadline is 5 o’clock. Sending it out the next day at 12 o’clock isn’t going to help. We have about 50-60 queries per email, so we certainly have enough content. We have a table of context at the very beginning, if you know how to read the email, takes you anywhere from 10-12 seconds to read the entire email. It’s really not that hard, 10-12 seconds three times a day is under a minute.

Andrew: We’re getting a couple of questions about the advertising. The first question is coming from Chris [xx] who’s watching us live. He’s asking how much does it cost to advertise.

Interviewee: Advertising ranges from $1,500 to $2,500 per ad per email.

Andrew: Based on what?

Interviewee: If they email me together, I’ll give them the demographics, I’ll give them all the info they could want.

Andrew: OK. From what I’ve seen, you’re sold out for a few weeks now. Right?

Interviewee: I was sold out for a few months, so that’s until the end of March.

Andrew: Till the end of March. Wow! We’re now at the end of December to give people to a sense of how far into the future you’re sold out. The cost, you’re using just AWEber.com to send out your emails?

Interviewee: No, we’re not. No, we actually moved to a professional provider about two months ago. AWeber was wonderful, they were awesome, they really were, they’re also very, very inexpensive. Because of that, they really can’t guarantee perfect deliverability. That’s not to say that they’re not great, I had a great experience with them for over a year that we used them. In the end, we moved to a higher level of service provider, because we did need a higher level of distribution. But, if anyone was starting a mailing list or newsletter, I would recommend them wholeheartedly.

Andrew: But you’re saying that there’s somebody else who could guarantee deliverabilities but AWeber isn’t getting them?

Interviewee: No, that’s not what I’m saying. AWeber is great for someone who has a mailing list of a couple of thousand emails a week, one-time emails a week. We’re sending out over 2.4 million emails a month, which needed some of the bigger [xx] provide. That’s really all it is. We need some who could put us in a dedicated box, and so we just moved to a higher level of service. But it had absolutely nothing to do with AWeber, they were spectacular.

Andrew: Oh, yes. A lot of people use them and love them. I’m just trying understand what happens when you use a service like AWeber and you have the amount of emails that you have going out.

Interviewee: I don’t know a lot of people use AWeber with that many emails. I mean, the people that use AWeber primarily have smaller lists from what I can tell, and they’re not really that concerned about deliverability, time-wise. For instance, sometimes, when a lot of people are sending out emails on AWeber, they back up a little bit. So, on a Monday morning or a Monday afternoon, our emails might be delayed up to an hour. That’s fine if you’re sending out a mailing for like your weekly specials. That’s not great if you have deadlines or reporters that are inching up on 20 minutes [xx]. So, our thing was really to just make sure the mails get out. But again, I recommend AWeber for virtually anything, and I keep my account with them just in case I ever want to do other stuff or test other things.

Andrew: OK. I use AWeber, too. From my understanding, if you have a list as big as yours – and I can’t imagine they have many people with list anywhere near your size – but that size audience cost less than $800 a month with them, so you’re expensive.

Interviewee: It was very, very cheap. It was very, very cheap. But again, you are in a traffic queue, and for someone with a really big list that isn’t time-sensitive, they’re the best option out there, hands down.

Andrew: OK. All right, so now, we got a sense of the business, we know where the revenues are coming from, and revenue size, we’ve got a sense of the expenses. Actually, no, we don’t. Who beyond you is working on HARO?

Interviewee: I’ve formed [xx] including two editors and marketing person and a COO, chief operating officer.

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Interviewee: We never spent penny one on marketing. It is all been word of mouth. Everyone’s come down to us and everyone’s said… the logic is very much there. “Hey this makes sense. There’s no reason I shouldn’t sign up.” And so friends tell friends, people tell people, site builds.

Andrew: Do you do anything to encourage word of mouth?

Interviewee: We ask people to talk about it on twitter if they get a win, if they have a success story. Our facebook dot com slash help reporter where they can post all their success stories. But yeah, it’s almost entirely word of mouth.

Andrew: I think I saw on twitter today that you said the first people to tweet at you will get a free t-shirt so…

Interviewee: Yeah. We gave a bunch of sweatshirts away to our biggest advertisers this year and we had a few left so I’m just giving them out.

Andrew: I see. Let’s see…you’re starting now to break down the list by categories so that people can get a list that’s more finely tuned to them. It seems like this is a request that you’ve gotten in the past?

Interviewee: A lot of people have asked for that. Yep. So it’s very, very easy to do. Come mid-January we’re going to break the list into different divisions so you can get whatever sectors you want, depending on what you’re doing and what your forte is, what your feature is. Yeah. It’ll make it much easier for everyone.

Andrew: What are the divisions you’re thinking of?

Interviewee: The same ones that are in the HARO right now, they’ll just be in individual emails.

Andrew: I see. Why break it up? I mean if, as you said earlier, people can just scan the table of contents and find out what they get, what’s in the rest of the email?

Interviewee: Because people have asked for it.

Andrew: Okay.

Interviewee: If we can do things that people ask for, we’re happy to. I mean, it really is that simple. If it doesn’t take too much time, if it doesn’t take too much extra money and a lot of people want it, easiest thing in the world.

Andrew: Okay. All right. And the travelling that you’re doing, is it all business? Or are you getting to travel more for pleasure now that you’ve got this business going?

Interviewee: I don’t understand that pleasure thing that people talk about. No it’s entirely work but I love what I do. I think I’m home, between January and February, I think I’m home 14 days the entire month…the entire two months and I love it.

Andrew: What kind of business do you need to travel for? Beyond speaking.

Interviewee: I do public speaking. I teach corporations and governments all around the world how to use social media effectively.

Andrew: I see. And what kinds of lessons are you teaching them about how to use social media effectively? What are they missing? What do they come to you for?

Interviewee: It’s very basic common sense. It’s a lot of stuff like transparency and relevance and brevity and understanding that social media is not going to save the world or take 20 pounds off your ass but it will definitely, if used correctly, it will definitely help you communicate better with your audience.

Andrew: Do you have an example of a company that you’ve helped out and a success story that you can share?

Interviewee: NASA. They’re a small, little agency that handles anything the US does with space. We’re very actively involved in working with them to create a social media policy and different social media roles for their different divisions to better communicate with the public and really increase the goodwill towards space travel now and into the future. Our goal is to really… we’d like to get them back to where they were in ’69.

Andrew: What is that kind of excitement for them and that kind of engagement. Do you have another success story that you can tell us about?

Interviewee: Yeah. We worked with Hayworth is a giant company in the mid-West that manufactures a ton of office furniture. We’re working with them to design what the social media office will look like in five years, ten years. Will there be TV’s on every wall? Will people be getting information in various ways? It’s really kind of fascinating. Very, very cool stuff. I’m very fortunate that I have these kind of clients. They’re just spectacular.

Andrew: If you guys are watching this live and have any questions just type them right in. I’m going to be reading them as we talk. What do you think the office of the future is going to look like? The social media office in the future?

Interviewee: I think there’s going to be a lot of what I’m calling “clustering” which is, you know, right now if you’re in an office with 100 people and you have four people near your cubicle you call them over to look at something on your desktop. I think you’ll be able to almost push something from you…there won’t be a screen. Everything will be on your desk top. You’ll look straight down or straight ahead to get the work out of it and you’ll just push it over to someone else’s desk via…if you can imagine that really crappy movie with Tom Cruise and the [INAUDIBLE]. When he was a cop…

Andrew: Minority Report?

Interviewee: Minority Report. Where he’s moving everything on the desk and one by one and piece by piece, you’ll be able to push it over and, “Oh. That’s a cute video file. Let me push that to John’s desk,” whatever the case may be. It’ll show up on his wall. It’s going to be fun and I think it’s going to be relatively simple to do and so I’m seeing a lot of that. That will prevent the… and then when you want to show something to an audience, to a room, you push it to the closest wall monitor and people will see it from there. It’s going to be pretty exciting in terms of where we’re going with that.

Andrew: S.G. Andrews’s watching us live and he’s saying, “What do you think is more effective for social media? Facebook or twitter?”

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Interviewee: I think it varies. It varies on what do you want to reach? Do you want to reach an audience with really interesting information that can’t fit within 140 characters, use Facebook. You know, if you want to reach some immediately with a sale going right on right now, log on to Twitter. I don’t think there’s a difference…I think they’re both, they both have acceptability, they both have way…places to be. I think it determines what your audience…first of all, it’s what Casey Stengel said, you know, “How do you win baseball games? You hit ‘em where they ain’t.” How do you win social media? You hit em where they are. Where are they? If they’re all on Facebook and not on Twitter, I’d say Facebook is probably your better bet. If they’re all on Twitter and not Facebook…

Andrew: Okay, and how does public speaking fit into this? Are you evangelizing or are you looking for customers? Is it…?

Interviewee: No, it’s I get called from big companies and from trade shows, organizations to talk on everything from a little motivation to a little futuristing futurism and a little future planning…where we’re going to be in ten years, things like that.

Andrew: Okay, alright. Well, thank you for doing this interview with me. I imagine you must have a busy Friday or busy Monday.

Interviewee: It feels like Friday, doesn’t it? Strange, last week of the year.

Andrew: It does.

Interviewee: Yeah, little crazy. I’m going to try to escape later in the week, we get down to Florida and get some sky diving in, but still work.

Andrew: You know what actually, somebody’s talking in the chatroom about a competing product. Why haven’t there been, why haven’t your competitors done well, what are they missing?

Interviewee: I think one of the biggest reasons…I think the biggest reason and you know, look, it’s, there’s me and there’s ProfNet. And ProfNet’s been around for 20 years. I’m a couple years old now, but the big thing about me and I don’t think a lot of people realize is there’ve been 4 companies in the past year that have tried to start and do what I do. The thing about HARO, I’ve been doing this for 10 years. It feels like 2 years, but I’ve been talking to reporters and making friends and have been creating trust with reporters for over 10 years. You know, I know their company, there are a couple of companies that launched a few months ago and, or several months ago, and they shut down a few months ago and their whole thing was, “Well hell, Peter can do it, we’ll just buy a list of a hundred thousand people. Boom!” Fine, but you’re not going to get any content. The content has to come from reporters that trust you enough to give you their email, to give you what they’re looking for and know that if they say, “Hey, I want this to be anonymous,” they have to trust you. And that comes from ten years of my being in this PR game and doing this and reporters trusting me and never violating that trust. And the other side, the flip side of the coin is that, look, ProfNet has been here forever, they’re the grandfather, I’m the upstart that’s doing, you know, I’m bigger than them, but if you’re a journalist, you’ll post to me and you’ll post to ProfNet. After that, what? Are you going to post to five other individual websites, hoping you get twenty-five more people?

Andrew: Should they have focused on a specific niche and then at least gotten that right before they tried to grow to be as big as you?

Interviewee: You know, I, I think that I’m sure that would have been nice, I, I just don’t know, again, I think it’s a matter of, it’s a matter of as it grows, if we have 125,000 people on a list, 30,000 of whom are in technology, 60,000 whom are in business, 40,000 are in lifestyle, do you really need another company? Look, you know, it’s America, if every… I wanted to start one because I thought I had a better way of doing it. I did that. It worked. If anyone else wants to try it, I wish them luck, I really do. It’s, a great market out there. They have 300 million people out there who, you know, in this country who could be a source about something. If you can convince, we’ve had 57,000 reporters… Here’s the thing, I know one of these companies launches this, “We have a database of 51,000 reporters!” Great, how many of them actually trust you enough to use your service? I could go to media map or bacons and buy a database of a hundred thousand reporters. I can email them all and say, “Hey, use my service!”. That’s SPAM. You know, the reporters who are using me, know me, and they know who I am and they trust me. And that’s, I gotta tell you, that’s a great feeling, having that level of trust. Within HARO is one of the best feelings in the world, no question about it.

Andrew: And they are saying, some of your competitors actually went out there and bought email lists?

Interviewee: Yeah, yeah I’ve heard about that. I’ve heard that some have bought media lists and some have tried to you know… My favorite are the people who sign up to HARO and then email all the journalists and say, “Hey, we have a much better list!” And the journalists that email me go, “Who’s this idiot?” You know, “Why should I use him if he’s sitting there being a spammer off of your list, do we really think he’s going to have anything that’s good?” So I, I think that’s hysterical, personally.

Andrew: What about the ones what I’ve seen is people who compete with you and then they put “Inspired by” you? “Inspired by Peter Shankman”. Are you? Are you flattered enough to just enjoy the competition enough at that point, or …I see you’re laughing so I get your answer.

Interviewee: I, no again, I think that, I think that at the end of the day, you know, I want people to understand what they’re doing. I want people to under…look…

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Interviewee: Wherever they find the best possible use for their services, use them. OK. Right now we have over…here’s what it comes down to. We’ve had over 50,000 journalists that have used HARO. That have used HARO. Not just 50,000 journalists who we have a list of. But 50,000 journalists who have actually on their own merit submitted a query to HARO. OK? From that list, the research that we’ve done, from the 50,000 journalists that submitted queries on HARO, 93% of them have used us again. I don’t need to talk about how great we are. Let that number do it. You Know?

Andrew: OK. But I see what’s happening. People see your success. It seems simple. They are probably doing what I’m doing, which is finding out how much awebber would cost, probably figuring out “alright he’s got 4 people, I would only need 1 because I’m gonna be a super-dynamo” or whatever it is. “I’ll hire my girlfriend, my wife, my uncle, my brother. They’ll help me out.” They’re inspired and they want to do something. If this isn’t the area for them, what newsletter should they consider? What are you seeing out there that you don’t have the time to pursue?

Interviewee: They should consider whatever subject matter they find interesting. Ok, here’s the deal. The HARO queries interest the hell out of me. I love reading them. I love reading the HARO. “Oh, wow! Look at what Oprah’s working on! Look at what the Wallstreet Journal’s working on! Look at what CNN is working on!” That’s so cool. It’s such a window into culture. Create something, if you want to create a mailing list, if you want to do what I do, create something that is interesting to you. Because I guarantee you, until I hired my editors, dude, I was waking up at 4 in the morning for 7 months to send out the HARO every single morning. That was the morning run. The afternoon run, as soon as I did that, I was able to go to gym for an hour, come back, start on the afternoon run. Finish that. “Oh, this is really simple to do.” Driving a car is really simple. I push the gas pedal, the car goes. I push the brake, it stops. To build a car to make it go, dude, not so freaking simple. Do what you love because you’re going to be…you know, this new product, this competing product frm Kevin Dubrow asked the question. Good luck to the guy. I hope he knows what he’s getting into. OK, there is not a day that doesn’t start for me later than 5 a.m. and doesn’t end earlier than midnight.

Andrew: Still, to this day, even though you’ve got 4 people working on this?

Interviewee: Hells yes.

Andrew: Even though it’s pretty straight forward?

Interviewee: Even more so. Even more so. No, you’re right. He’s not. But he’s clearly… I am going to answer Kevin. You’re right. He’s not & he is clearly copying me, but more important, I looked at the kind of stuff he does & everything he’s does comes with an upsell. And that’s, dude, if that works for him, that’s great. But everything he does, every single one of his lists comes with an upsell. “Hey! Here’s one journalist query and 8 things that you can buy from me! Here starting at 59.99 and it slices and it dices it!” You know. That’s kind of funny to me. I’ve never sold anything on HARO. HARO has a four-line ad. You get that. At the end of the day, you get to those 4 lines. That’s it. You are never going to be charged. I’m never at the bottom of the email and put “And buy my book!” That is just not the way I work. So, you know, good for Steve. If that works for him, more power to him. I’m curious, what I’d love to know, how many queries is he going to get? You know, how many queries per day? And look dude, were are doing upwards of 200 queries a day. Once we split the list, the whole reason we have to throttle back to 200 queries a day is because we don’t want to overrun you and give you 100. If we were to give you 100 or 150 queries per email, you’d kill yourself. How the hell could you read that? So we’re throttling back and we’re holding back queries. Once the new system launches, it’s going to be automatic. You hit a certain threshold of queries, BOOM! Email sends. So, all the tech queries, BOOM! Tech queries send. BOOM! Lifestyle queries send. So, you might get 3 or 4 emails a day with 30 or 40 queries just in that topic. So, if you work in the tech field and you only want tech queries. BOOM! There’s 200 tech queries a day for you. Knock yourself out. And those are targeted. Those are targeted. If you work in the tech field and I am sending you that, I am sending it to you as a targeted subscriber, that’s worth a lot more money to an advertiser. “Hey, I have a tech product. I just want to hit tech people.” Fine. Here’s 40,000 tech people. That’s worth a lot more money for an advertiser.

Andrew: And you are saying to me, if someone runs an online community and subscribes to your newsletter and sees a couple of posts that their audience would be into, that they can post it on their website? All they could say do is say they subscribe?

Interviewee: The problem I have with…That’s not…Look, I have no problem if they did it. It’s not my problem. I can’t allow it. Reporters get pissed off. Think about what the query is. The query is the reporter’s name and the reporter’s email. They have a google alert and that they see it posted on john’sblog.com. BOOM! Spammer picks it up, a spambot picks it up. 5 second…

Andrew: And if that part isn’t included? If there’s just a “We’re looking for somebody who’s in this space”?

Interviewee: How do you contact them otherwise?

Andrew: Have them…I see. I’ll send you a link to the person who is doing this and we’ll see if what they’re doing is OK.

Interviewee: Please do.

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Interviewee: I don’t know where any in the hell they are now. Um.

Andrew: Everything’s closed except for the chat board. Kevin, do you know Peter directly or where’s this love and where’s all, where are all these questions coming from?

Interviewee: I’m looking, I could tell you that, um, uh, a woman sold a book, and I don’t have, I don’t have it in front of me ’cause I closed my email and if I launch it it’ll slow things down. A woman sold a book about four weeks ago, sold 200 books in the first 10 minutes that HARO hard running. Mike Michalowicz at The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur sent me an email he goes, “First sale, 30 seconds after he received his HARO.”

Andrew: Sale of his book?

Interview: Sale of his, sale of his book, 30 seconds after sold, sold HARO. Um, we did a, um, a huge, um, SG Andrew, shoot me an email offline and I’ll tell you all the, uh, all the, all the details on that.

Andrew: He’s asking you, SG Andrew’s asking you, “What’s the click through rate?” And you’re saying that if he emails you offline, you’ll send him the click through rates offline.

Interviewee: Yeah, I just have, I have all the stuff all the info. Um, we have, um, trying to think who else. Westin Hotels have advertised with us, uh, Singapore Airlines had sold a bunch of seats, you know, a lot of hotels and companies are doing HARO discounts, like, for the HARO family. You know, so that’s kinda cool too.

Andrew: That’s what I’m hearing, actually, the thing to do is to offer some kind of discount, because then [overspoken].

Interviewee: No question about it. Yeah.

Andrew: And you don’t have a salesperson who’s actua-, actively going out and soliciting? He’s just taking inbound calls?

Interviewee: Yep.

Andrew: Alright. Impressive and, um, guys, any more questions, here? It sounds like you guys are asking the better questions today. Much better than I am.

Interviewee: Last question I’ll take from Kevin then I actually have to bail to get to my next meeting. Um, we are going to be, like I said, we’re gonna be splitting lists into different verticals. So if you want technology lists and entertainment lists, lifestyle lists, health and green lists, whatever. Um, that’s a new format and each one of those will have, um, probably a higher targeted, um, ad rate because they are targeted emails.

Andrew: Alright, well, thank you. The question was, “What’s the next move for, for Peter.” Alright, Peter, thank you for doing this interview. Guys who are watching this live, listening to us on tape delay, thank you, I will link you over to the list so you can join in and if you see anything that fits Mixergy that you think I should be, um, that I should be responding to, send it over. Even though I’m a subscriber, I sometimes miss things online.

Interviewee: I’ll say one last thing, I think, you asked about the growth of the email. I think one of the biggest reasons for the growth of the email is because you can sign up for the email in less than 8 seconds. First name, last name, email, company, you’re in.

Andrew: Alright, well, let’s leave it there. Thank you guys. I’m Andrew, I’ll see you in the comments.

Full program includes

– See where the revenue and expenses are in this business.

– Understand why competitors haven’t been able to duplicate HARO’s success.

– Learn why email newsletters are still profitable, even though the technology behind them has been around for about a decade.

 


  • Can't wait to listen! I subscribe to HARO and have since been quoted in The New York Times, and Eye Weekly.

  • That's awesome! Could you send me a link if you have it handy?

  • Matt

    Haha, I got a kick out of this one….

    Andrew, a bit hungover today? Perhaps a little rudeness put you off… I don't expect you to comment if that latter. :)

  • NYT article (with photo): http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/27/business/your

    Eye Weekly article: http://www.eyeweekly.com/article/55882

    In both cases not the most uplifting subject matter (unemployment and twentysomething bemusement) but everyone's an expert in _something_, right? I believe I was quoted in another article regarding health insurance, but I can't seem to recall where. Hope that helps.

  • Tobin

    I'm mixed on this one.

    I typically like watching/listening to these for some great nuggets about what the entrepreneur went through to get to where they are. Lessons learned, pain they've felt getting off the ground, what inspired them to build the businesses that brought them success.

    I like Andrew's moderation of the interview, but I feel like Peter kind of neglected focus on what Mixergy is about and focused on proving points about HARO. I would have liked to have heard more anecdotes about growth and challenges. What did Peter learn, what was he wrong about, what was he right about…

  • nextpulse

    Wow – this Peter is probably the rudest, most arrogant person I've seen being interviewed on here.

  • ohms

    Andrew lends towards my understanding of the rich: they don't need to be eloquent, friendly or cohesive.

  • I think the interview was great but I don't know why some interviewees have such a “I don't have time for you” attitude. Maybe it's just a matter of perception or maybe he was having a busy day or that's his style of communication. I've noticed people with companies 10x as large who were more patient, attentive, and polite to the interviewer.

  • Mark

    Andrew, you're great, but Peter is rude, yawning, disengaged and his body language is very alpha male. Interesting points, but his arrogance is very off-putting.

  • roscojo

    Peter is total riot.

    He is such a straight shooter and a hard-ass, but then the cat rolls up and he instantly becomes very meek and amicable.

    He truly is very Rupert Murdoch/Mother Theresa.

    That is why he has tapped into a business model that has worked well for him, but others can't seem to grasp or duplicate.

    This interview is proof positive that a successful business is always a reflection of its founder's personality.

  • Peter is total riot.

    He is such a straight shooter and a hard-ass, but then his cat Karma rolls up and he instantly becomes very meek and amicable.

    He truly is very Rupert Murdoch/Mother Theresa.

    That is why he has tapped into a business model that has worked well for him, but others can't seem to grasp or duplicate.

    This interview is proof positive that successful businesses are a reflection of their founder's personality.

  • Excellent interview with Peter. I never get tired of hearing him talk about his craft, what he does and how he does it. He is a genuine guy and I'm also happy to have found you and your site. I am subscribing. Peter wrote the foreword for my book and it seems that no matter how much HARO grows he still makes time for people, answers his own emails and speaks from the heart. I look forward to perusing your archives and seeing what you do in 2010.

  • I agree with the other listeners/viewers here about the interview, it seemed like Peter was more defensive than anything else and didn't really give many tips for how to build a business. I loved Peter's book, but felt he was being short with you Andrew and it sucked that he had to leave early for a meeting because there could have been some juicy stuff come out eventually.

  • Wow good job Scott, that's amazing!

  • nextpulse

    @ohms – its about respect. Many successful (and rich) folks: Branson, Sugar etc are very respectful(?) people.

  • While I admire Peter's straightforwardness and brevity, this interview felt more like a ping-pong match than a conversation. To put it another way, I heard more of Andrew than is comfortable. The shortness of the recording is evidence of this.

    I don't like to make negative comments on the interviews themselves, but this one genuinely felt awkward.

    I have spotted on HARO only a few times someone either offering or requesting a job. I wonder, would the format (a no-nonsense newsletter to an opt-in list) work for recruiting? It could get out of hand, of course, but could also serve as a sharp focus against other carpet-bomb tactics.

  • Thanks Jeremy. Unfortunately, my thinly-veiled begging (via the Times) didn't lead to any employment prospects. A number of old friends/teammates wrote in to say “I saw you in the paper!” but no one had even a reference for me. Things are a little better now, that was Nov. 2008, a rather low point for NYC employment.

  • shunshifu

    Angela,
    I just bought your book via your ad in HARO and I'm anxiously awaiting it. If the description is really true to the content it's exactly what I need.
    and thanks for the twitter link to this video.

  • Ted

    @ Flag “Peter came across as quite rude/arrogant.”Yeah I agree. At first it felt like Peter was in a hurry to get the interview over. But as the interview progressed he seem to open up a bit. Very fascinating business. A super simple and elegant business model. It seemed as though he grew it completely organically. I'm glad Peter did the interview as it was interesting and you could really feel his passion for his business.
    As always; Andrew did a good job.
    Thanks
    Pete & Andrew

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  • Hey guys… Thanks for all the comments – Wanted to add my own two cents, if I could, for whatever it's worth…

    First off, my apologies to anyone who might have watched this/listened to this interview and thought me arrogant, full of myself, etc… I certainly don't believe me to be, nor did I ever want to come across as that – So thank you – I'll use your comments as a learning point, and take them to heart the next time I'm speaking or being interviewed.

    At the end of the day, I'm just a guy who thought of a good idea – because I thought it could help two different types of people connect, for the good of them both – it was only several months in, (probably even a year in) that it occurred to me that this could be a venture that could generate revenue – and I've always believed in the concept of “do what you love – the money will follow” – and HARO is a perfect example of that.

    Are there other sites that believe they can copy that I've built? Sure. And that's fine – We're a society that embraces that kind of enthusiasm – do I personally think the new upstarts will succeed? I don't know – I DO know that countless reporters have told me that they use HARO, and occasionally, they use Profnet – because between the two of us, they're guaranteed to get enough sources for whatever article they happen to be working on. Will reporters want to submit the same information to 3, 4, 5, multiple sites? I don't know – But in the past year, it's been proven that their deadlines have prevented them from doing that – so they submit to HARO, or Profnet, or HARO AND Profnet, and they get results that satisfy them. Do they want more? I don't believe they do, but that's up to the reporters to decide.

    So in the end, I apologize if I sounded pompous – Ironically, Richard Branson is one of my heroes – I've studied him and tried to grow the businesses I've started in the past based on what worked for him – so I appreciate the comparison, whether it was well intended or not.

    At the end of the day, I'm very fortunate that I'm able to run a company that both helps so many people, and also generates enough revenue to help us continue to grow – it's a win-win – Am I 50% Rupert Murdoch and 50% Mother Theresa? Well, a reporter once called me that, and I'm flattered – let's just say it's what I strive to be.

    Happy holidays all – Andrew, thank you for having me as a guest on your show.

    Best,

    :)

    -Peter Shankman

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  • I enjoyed this interview. And I love Peter's book. Nice job Andrew.

  • HumblePie

    Peter definitely needs to work on sounding less arrogant and rude BUT glad he recognized the comments and is aware of it at least. Branson is charming, this interview was annoying.

  • Interesting interview. It's cool to see a Facebook group transform into a successful business.

    -Cory

    http://www.corylevy.com

  • I'm really glad you did the interview Peter. And thanks for this comment.

  • testing

    testing

  • Great interview. We have just awarded Peter with our top award for 2009. I think he really deserves it.

    http://www.techwankers.com/2009/12/31/top-3-tec

  • Cal

    very hard to watch interview. peter handled it well.

  • Cal

    Andrew was very balanced.

  • Cal

    very hard to watch interview. peter handled it well.

  • Cal

    Andrew was very balanced.

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