Electronic Mail & ProfNet
Electronic mail is the most basic, but one of the most useful, Internet tools for journalists. Reporters can use e-mail to speedily ask routine questions of a source, contact hard to reach sources, contact multiple sources simultaneously, receive press releases and connect more frequently with readers.
Finding E-Mail Addresses:
ProfNet is an e-mail system for finding expert sources. ProfNet will take a reporters e-mail request for a particular type of expert source and distribute it to public relations officers in about 7,000 institutions worldwide, including 1,200 universities, 4,000 corporations, 1,200 PR firms, 1,000 non-profit organizations and government agencies and 100 think tanks, scientific associations and labs. Reporter requests are sent out three times a day (10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern time) to the 14,000 participating public relations officials. It is the same idea as calling your local university for an expert source, but instead of making one phone call, you are making 14,000 simultaneously. ProfNet has grown dramatically since it was started by Daniel Forbush at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in the early 1990s. It is now a subsidiary of PR NewsWire and handles 130 to 200 reporter requests a day in North America and Europe.
To use ProfNet, send an e-mail query to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the e-mail form available
at ProfNet. Reporters also can phone in ProfNet requests (1-800-PROFNET) or fax
Government agencies, companies and non-profit organizations are beginning to create mailing lists that automatically send out press releases, news alerts and other information to reporters who subscribe. Bill Dedman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former head of The Associated Press computer-assisted reporting team, has put together a list of some of the best news alerts.
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