What is ProfNet?
ProfNet is a service of PR Newswire that helps connect journalists with expert sources.
When a journalist is working on an article and needs an expert source, she submits a query detailing the type of expertise she’s looking for, what her deadline is, and how she wants to be contacted. The query is then distributed to ProfNet subscribers by email (and archived in the subscriber’s online inbox). If the subscriber represents an expert that can help the reporter, the subscriber replies to her via email with the information she requested.
Who can use ProfNet?
PR professionals and subject-matter experts can use ProfNet to connect with reporters in need of their expertise.
Journalists, bloggers, authors and other content creators can use ProfNet to find the sources they need to complete their articles, blog posts, books, etc.
How much does ProfNet cost?
ProfNet is free for reporters and other content creators in need of sources.
On the PR side, ProfNet memberships are on a sliding scale, depending on the size and type of institution (i.e., small businesses and educational institutions pay less than large PR agencies). To get a quote or request a free trial, contact a ProfNet representative.
In addition to the query service, ProfNet also offers:
- Expert Alerts, via which subscribers can proactively pitch their experts to reporters. Expert Alerts are open only to ProfNet members, and are included in an email newsletter to thousands of registered reporters. You can read more about Expert Alerts here: Get Proactive With Expert Alerts and Roundups.
- Speaker Service, which connects event organizers with speakers, panelists, moderators and other types of presenters. An event organizer fills out the Speaker Service query form, and the request is then included in the ProfNet query emails. You can find out more about Speaker Service here: Speaker Service: Your Connection to Finding Speakers.
- ProfNet Connect, our interactive online network of more than 50,000 profiles of experts, PR professionals and influencers. Profiles are searchable by keyword and geographic location. ProfNet Connect is free and open to anyone. You can read more about it here: About ProfNet Connect.
Rules of Engagement
ProfNet succeeds because it gives reporters the ability to connect with high-quality experts quickly and conveniently. Here are some guidelines for both PR pros and journalists when interacting via ProfNet:
For PR pros:
- When responding, provide as much information about the expert as you can. This will help reporters know whether the expert fits their article needs. For our suggestions on what to include, read: Tips for Responding to ProfNet Queries.
- Do not pitch off-topic or use queries as stepping-off points for irrelevant pitches. Only respond to queries when you are able to provide reporters with the expertise they are asking for.
- Contact should be made only via the email address listed in the query, unless the reporter specifically requests another method of contact.
- Reporters’ emails should not be added to an email list without their permission.
- Follow through: If you promise to provide a reporter with information or connect them with an expert, make sure you fulfill that promise.
- Don’t use queries as a way to advance your own personal interests or agendas, except in cases where the reporter explicitly requests responses that are personal in nature.
- Read more about our guidelines for PR pros and experts here: Responding to Reporter Queries: Guidelines for PR Pros and Experts.
- Include as much detail as possible about the kind of expertise/responses you’re looking for. The more info you can provide, the better your responses will be.
- When choosing your deadline for responses, provide as much time as possible. Of course, there are always last-minute stories, but please remember that PR pros need time to get all the information together.
- If a query is on a controversial/political topic, keep it as unbiased as possible. Emotions tend to run high on certain topics.
- When requesting products, please keep in mind that PR pros need to account for samples they distribute. It’s ideal if you can return the sample after reviewing it; if not, make sure you indicate that in the query so companies are aware before they provide the sample to you.
- If you can, let respondents know you got their email. You don’t have to personally reply to every response, but a simple automated return message (“Thank you for your email. I’ll be reviewing all responses over the next few days, and will touch base if your expert is a fit.”) can help foster good working relationships with PR pros.
- If possible, follow up with PR reps when an article their expert is quoted in is published. While you might not always know when an article runs, sources would appreciate the head’s up when possible.
- Read more about our guidelines for reporters here: Submitting Queries: Guidelines for Reporters, Authors and Bloggers.
Above all, please be professional. Although technology is a key tool in our operation, it's the human dimension that makes ProfNet work. We all have a stake in observing a high standard of etiquette and professional courtesy.
Do you have a question that’s not addressed here? Drop me a line or leave a comment below and I’ll try to answer it as soon as possible.