TVNewser AgencySpy TVSpy LostRemote FishbowlNY FishbowlDC SocialTimes AllFacebook 10,000 Words GalleyCat UnBeige MediaJobsDaily

Peter Shankman’s Lawyer Sends Cease and Desist to HARO Competitor

shankman11.jpg

Peter Shankman‘s connect journalists with sources service – Help A Reporter Out (HARO) – has become wildly popular over the last two years since it was founded. So popular, in fact, that HARO imitators have been sprouting up.

Recently, a law firm hired by Shankman sent a cease and desist letter to Ryan Waggoner, who set up a site called PRManna.com that functions very much like HARO.

Shankman’s lawyer, Jerry S. Goldman of Anderson Kill & Olick, P.C. told PRNewser today via email, “my client has no qualms with legitimate competition and welcomes new and original ideas. HARO, like any other company, will protect its valuable intellectual property.”

This news is interesting to us for a few reasons.


1) Shankman is all about transparency, or so it seems. Why wouldn’t he post this news on his blog and frame the story himself? Why just send a cease and desist, and hope this all never bubbles up? It seems like risky PR for a man who is known for his PR savvy.

2) Shankman promoted HARO as the cool, free, upstart alternative to the stodgy, established ProfNet, which is owned by PRNewswire. With this move, HARO now looks like the stodgy, scared company.

3) In January 2008, Shankman received what he called a threatening call from a Profnet rep, and said the company was mad at him for infringing on their turf. Shankman then wrote sarcastically, in defense of how his service would never take business from ProfNet:

Oh, well, now that I get Peter’s group emails once every few days, with maybe one or two requests in it, I’ll just cancel Profnet.

So, if HARO would never have an effect on Profnet, as Shankman claimed, how could HARO now be threatened by a service that only has five total queries on its site.

4) What about the many other HARO competitors, such as Reporter’s Source and PitchRate.

5) HARO benefits from Shankman’s massive network – at least it especially did at the start. Very few people, if anyone, can match his network of PR people and journalists.

One veteran copyright lawyer we spoke to said, “Shankman can’t stop Waggoner from being in the same business, he can only stop him from either using a confusingly similar name, or mark, or logo, or web page, or domain name that just causes the consumers to think – they intended to go to Shankman’s site and are on Waggoners. They can’t tell the difference.”

“They want this guy to back off, that’s clear. It’s not clear whether he has legitimately violated any rights,” the lawyer said.

We’ve posted screen-shots of both Website’s homepages below so you can compare. More to come…

HARO homepage11.bmp

prmanna.bmp

Mediabistro Course

Social Media 101

Social Media 101Get hands-on social media training in our online boot camp, Social Media 101! Starting September 4, social media and marketing experts will help you determine the social media sites that matter most to you, based on your personal and professional goals. Register now!