An Angel in New York: Peter Shankman, CEO of The Geek Factory Inc.



New York City born and raised, Peter Shankman is the founder of Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a group that helps journalists crowd source their needs by submitting queries to public relations professionals who refer them to experts on specific topics. The database provides journalists with more than 200,000 sources willing to be quoted in the media. In June 2010, Vocus, Inc., for whom Shankman served as vice president and small business evangelist, acquired HARO.

Shankman is also the founder and CEO of The Geek Factory Inc., a boutique social media, marketing and PR firm located in New York City. His clients have included American Express, Sprint, Snapple Beverage Group, the U.S. Department of Defense, New Frontier Media and Napster, among others.

He is the author of three books and a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter at trade shows and conferences worldwide.

In March 2013, Shankman announced he was leaving HARO and Vocus as he awaited the birth of his first child and finished writing his third book.

He is a graduate of Boston University and began his career as a senior news editor at America Online.

Social media:


Companies Shankman Founded:

The Geek Factory Inc.




NASA Civilian Advisory Council

Memorable quotes:
On rules for social media
: “1. Be transparent. Transparency leads to trust. 2. Be relevant. Make people need your messages. 3. Brevity. Attention span is now just 2.7 seconds (or the time is takes to read 140 characters). Just say it. 4, Be top of mind. Let other people do your PR for you.”

On the difference between PR and journalists: “There will always be problems between PR people and journalists, no matter how much we try and repair the rift. Look, fundamentally, the two are simply designed to oppose. On one hand, you have journalists, who have the job of finding actual news – a good story, a trend, something interesting. That’s not easy to do, and they’re being asked every day to do more with less. On the flip side, you have PR people, who are beholden to the request of the clients – A very simple, yet incredibly complex request: ‘Get us press.’”

On how to narrow the gap between PR and journalism: “It’s a symbiotic balance. When journalists know what they’re looking for, it’s easy to find the information they need. PR people need to know that journalists spend almost all their time slammed on deadlines – it’s not the “come to our party” atmosphere it was years ago. A PR person’s best tactic is to anticipate what the journalist might need, what they might want and what they might most require to get their story done.”

On social media and branding: “Look at Apple. They love their brand, everybody loves their brand right now. If their sales started dropping, would they care or anyone care? No, Apple [could care less] about their brand. You can do both, build the brand and build sales. Social media has to be about more than just building the brand; you have to think about the endgame.”

On social media: “Social media is not ‘cool.’ Making money is cool. Social Media is simply another arrow in the quiver of marketing, and that quiver is designed to generate revenue.”

About the author: Kristen Mott

Kristen Mott is a senior at Cleveland State University studying Journalism and Promotional Communication and current editor-in-chief of The Cauldron, the student-run alternative newspaper on campus.

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